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Effective Business Communication
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Effective Business Communication


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Effective Business Communication

Success in business ability to communicate inside & outside the company

When is communication effective?

Only when others understand your message and respond to it the way you want them to

Effective communication:

manage your work flow

improve business relationships

enhance your professional image

other important benefits:

What do employers expect from you?

competent communication tasks

Specific skills advance in career

  • organizing ideas and information coherently and completely
  • expressing and presenting ideas coherently and persuasively
  • listening to others effectively (active listening)
  • communicating effectively with people from diverse backgrounds and having different experiences
  • using communication technologies effectively and efficiently
  • communicating in a civilised manner that reflects contemporary expectations of business etiquette
  • communicating ethically, even when choices are not crystal clear

Characteristics of Effective Communication

„Knowledge may be power, but communication skills are the primary raw materials of good client relationships.” (project manager at NASA's Marshal Space Flight Center)

provide practical information

give facts rather than impression

clarify and condense information

state precise responsibilities

persuade others and offer recommendations

Communication in Organizational Settings

Communication = vital link bet. people / information

Internal & external communication

Formal and Informal Communication


1. Formal Communication Network

Ideas & information along the lines of command (hierarchical levels)

Internal formal network information flows in three directions:

  • downward flow : executives employees
  • upward flow: employees executives
  • horizontal flow: lateral or diagonal communication flow (between departments)

2. Informal Communication Network (a grapevine)

e-mail and instant-messaging systems

Grapevines most active (when employees think the formal network is not providing the information they want or need)


  • flows in and out the organization along formal lines

(carefully prepared letters, announcements, e-mail messages, face-to-face meetings etc.)




Planned communication among insiders (letters, reports, memos, e-mail, instant messages ) that flows the company’s chain of command

Planned communication with outsiders (letters, reports, memos, speeches, websites, instant messages and news releases)


Casual communication among employees (e-mail, instant messages, face-to-face conversations, and phone calls that do not follow the company’s chain of command)

Casual communication with suppliers, customers, investors and other outsiders (face-to-face conversations, e-mail, instant messages, and phone calls)

The Communication process

Understanding why Business Communication is unique

Bus. Comm. far more demanding than the communication we are involved in with family, friends, and colleagues


expectations are higher on the job

business environment complex

(possible failure)

Factors that affect business communication:

globalization of business

increase in workforce diversity

increasing value of information

pervasiveness of technology

growing reliance on teamwork

evolution of organizational structures

other barriers

Globalization of business and the increase in workforce diversity

The increasing value of Business Information

  1. Competition for jobs, customers, resources continues to grow
  2. The importance of information continues to escalate
  3. For an organization, information is as important as money, raw materials and its people

Information Age

Knowledge workers at all levels of the organization

= employees who specialize in acquiring, processing and communicating information

Key areas are in view:

competitive insights

customer needs

regulations and guidelines

Competitive insights: competitors’ strengths and weaknesses (competitors’ plans)

Customer needs

  • information collected from a variety of sources
  • needs to be analysed
  • to develop goods and services that better satisfy customer needs)

Regulations and guidelines

government regulations and guidelines: employment, environment, taxes, and accounting

The pervasiveness of technology

  • Technical expertise to keep up with that of your colleagues
  • Imbalance can put you at a disadvantage

The evolution of organizational structures:

a) company structure relationships communication (nature, quality)

Tall structures

  • many layers of management (L/H positions) communication
  • breakdowns; delays
  • messages are passed up & down through multiple layers

Solution: adopting flatter structures (reduce the number of layers)

  • fewer links in the communication chain
  • pushing responsibility downward
  • more responsibility for lower-level employees
  • to pool the talent of employees and external partners

(externalization of certain operations)

b) the organization's corporate culture


traditions that give a company its atmosphere & personality


Successful companies

  • encourage employee contributions
  • communication flows freely up, down & across the organization chart
  • open climate
  • honest relationships (admit mistakes, disagree with their boss, express their opinions)
  • prepare employees to send & receive negative news and hear constructive criticism from their superiors
  • employees want feedback from their managers
  • managers (to overcome the natural inclination to smooth things over and avoid conflicts)

attention to communication higher performance + more satisfying work experience)

The growing reliance on teamwork

teams offer many potential advantages:

increasing responsibility for communication

information: not conveyed automatically

to invent new communication processes

employee satisfaction

organization flexibility

ability to respond to competition

Barriers to effective communication


  • physical: bad connections, poor acoustics, illegible printing, uncomfortable meeting rooms
  • emotional: delivery of messages; interpretation

Information overload

  • too many messages; e-mail traffic alone is mushrooming; phone messages, traditional mail pieces, other interruptions
  • difficult to discriminate bet. useful and useless info.

Perceptual differences

      • mindset
      • individual perception of reality
      • a sender / a receiver when something does not quite fit into our existing pattern inclined to distort the information rather than rearrange our individual pattern (selective perception)
      • share experience to share perception + share meaning

Language differences


Restrictive environments

  • restriction of information flow (intentionally or unintentionally) affects the competitive potential
  • tall hierarchies: loss of message quality

Deceptive tactics

Deceptive communication regrettably easy

Unscrupulous communicators

  • can present opinions as facts
  • omit crucial information
  • exaggerate benefits
  • downplay risks


First condition – to understand the why of the communication

  • What am I expected to achieve by delivering this speech?
  • Do I want action? Feedback? Sympathy? Support? Sales? Sharing of ideas?

Without the why of the communication

  • first impulse: to develop the message
  • concentration on the what step (more than on the results you want to attain)
  • message may fail in meeting its purpose


Most messages delivered in business have one of the three objectives:

to inform

to persuade

to celebrate


purpose of message

  • to present: facts/ issues/ events

various presentations




purpose of message

  • to motivate
  • to persuade
  • to think /act in accordance with the speaker


to sell products & services

to support ideas/strategies

to motivate listeners to change behaviours

Celebrate – recognize/ acknowledge

a person

an event

an occasion

an organisational theme

purpose of message

  • to inspire; to entertain

commencement awards

retirement addresses

achievement awards

founder's day speeches

other congratulatory speeches

Understanding the Listener

  • needs
  • interests
  • level of experience

Useful questions:

Are they clients/ potential clients/ colleague/ strangers/ supervisors/ subordinates?

Are they similar in age and background or widely varied?

What do they want to hear from me?

What questions will they want answered?

What is their political, social, economic, cultural background?

Will they be friendly or hostile?

How many will be listening to me?

Your chances of success depend on your perception of the audience.

Getting feedback

not all presentations need feedback (to celebrate an event, to acknowledge a merit, to recognize an achievement)

Feedback can be obtained:



by chatting with the listeners after the presentation (reactions, comments will show you if and how well they understood the message)

questions & answers sessions

(plan carefully so as not to lose control of the meeting)

Suggestions for maintaining control

      • Anticipate your listeners' questions
      • Prepare additional materials for the Q&A session: statistics, figures, supporting documents. Convince the audience of your preparedness
      • For technical questions, ask specialists in relevant departments to take part at the meeting and provide the data needed;
      • If you don't know the answer, say so;
        • offer to send an answer
        • say you have to study the point more
      • Come with a list of questions as back up
        • The question I am most often asked is…
        • Last week someone asked me….
      • If the listeners react negatively, be ready to shift gears when it is necessary to obtain a desired result
      • If the audience is large, repeat the questions for all to hear

Methods of Delivery

Reading from a prepared manuscript

Delivering from memory

Delivering extemporaneously relying on brief notes or clue cards.

Reading from a prepared manuscript

Purpose: to deliver an exact, structured message

Examples: keynote speeches

speeches with long-range effect (government officials)

sometimes, scripts are approved prior to presentation

and made available to the members of the press

Delivering from memory

memorizing the presentation word-for-word

Possible problems:

may forget a line or sentence

may lose their place in the speech

Extemporaneous presentation – most popular, most desirable

materials are organised either in outline form or on note cards;

allows to monitor the audience’s reactions, to slow down, to elaborate on different points;

encourage the audience’s involvement;

contributes to building trust, confidence and commitment


The PMM Concept

Three basic components:

Person – individual making the oral presentation

Message – the presentation itself

Media – the presentation aids

The basis for the strategy for communicating orally


Every society has an unwritten standard by which its citizens are measured.

Professional image

implies capacity to determine what constitutes that standard in your society

Necessary: to analyse yourself objectivelly in terms of:


educational background

intelligence level

status (leader or follower)

Nonverbal elements used as standards for determining success

good grooming

appropriate dress

natural manners  silent communicators

effective body language

a pleasing voice

good eye contact

an authoritative presence

of what we believe about one another is based on our observation & interpretation of nonverbal signals.

Most people will judge you by:

your self-confidence

your personality 

your determination

your self-control

Natural Manners

Stress = natural part of public speaking

Audience may detect how confident you are by observing your mannerism.

Annoying habits:

knuckle rapping

fist clenching

nail biting

foot tapping

coin jingling

During oral presentations, it is wrong to:

v     fold your arms across your chest

v     lean against the wall/lectern other object

v     folding your hands behind you

v     placing your hands in your pockets

Natural, self-confident manners - recommended

Professional speaker's stance:

standing straight (arms/hands hanging loosely at your sides)

feet firmly planted and spread naturally

Appropriate Attire

good grooming

appropriate dress


tailored clothing only (no frills, ruffles, straps or plunging necklines)

suits and blazers in plain, neutral colours

scarves for colour accents

skirts that are pleated, straight, or dirndl, with no extreme slits

basic dark pumps with medium or low heels

stud earrings; gold or pearl necklaces; avoid dangling bracelets


dark or grey suits; navy blazers and grey trousers

dress shirts in solid colours, mostly white, pale blue, or yellow

variety of ties in muted colours but in contrast to the suit . calf-length hose in dark colours to match suits

black or brown 1-inch belt

loafers, wingtips, or laceup shoes

avoid flashy cuff links, rings, or neck chains

Body Language

For effectiveness – natural gestures to emphasize a point.

Key word = natural

The Voice

Good voice quality provides an effective presentation.

For feedback :  

a tape recorder

a friend

a member of the family

Eye Contact

the most prominent feature of your face;

use them to make contact with the audience;

try not to single out a particular person, but make eye contact with many people in the audience;

begin by looking ahead, rotate slowly from side to side, making eye contact with a number of different people;

lock eyes for a few seconds, but never long enough to complete more than 8-10 words;

let your eyes do some of the talking;


Visual presence:

  • by integrating nonverbal elements into a professional image
  • positive visual image


3 basic parts:

the Takeoff gains the audience’s attention

introduces the theme

the Convincing Evidence data /facts /info. (used to support the claim)

the Windup closes the message

a summary of key elements

The Takeoff – sets the stage for the audience’s response

Reasons for being present:

Some participants desire information

Other participants are required to attend

Necessary: impact at the very first

Techniques for achieving effective beginning

Startling information


The Unusual


The Message Core ('We are here to discuss the parking problems on the university campus')

Courteous Beginning – always effective

express your appreciation for the honour of speaking and then congratulate the listeners on any accomplishment relevant to the speech topic

Convincing Evidence – middle section of your presentation

Begin this section with:

concepts that are familiar to your audience

( esp. for controversial subjects)

gradually introduce more complex concepts

group important elements in logical sequence

support ideas with cases & incidents

use illustrations & examples

give your presentation the necessary depth but avoid boring, irrelevant details

The Windup

v     restate the central theme

v     summarize the evidence

v     propose some type of action

v     do not introduce new evidence

The MEDIA – any aid used to enhance an oral presentation

Varieties of media



The chalkboard/whiteboard






Slides  a really professional look

great impact on the audience

where quality, simplicity and mobility are demanded

The chalkboard/whiteboard

beforehand, write on note cards what you intend to present on the board, so as to avoid making mistakes

do not write pertinent information on the board beforehand: will divert the audience's attention to the board.


v     you can write information on one sheet at a time

v     you can write information ahead of time and then flip the sheets as you discuss

v     esp. useful for small group presentations

Handouts – a useful way of complementing your presentation

  • should be distributed at the end of the speech (audience free to concentrate on yr. presentation)
  • what you want the audience to do with your handouts

to take home some ideas

a summary of the presentation (key points)

to take some action

feedback (provide a checklist; easy for them to respond)

Lecture 4


Questions that govern the process of writing


Why do I write?

v         gives the reasons why that piece of writing is produced

For whom?

For whom do I write?

makes the writer concentrate on the reader's interests and needs


What do I write?

the writer focuses on the subject that should meet the reader's needs


How should I write?

selection and combination of vocabulary and structure;

order to create sentences

to develop paragraphs

will enable the reader to interpret the message as intended by the writer


Evaluating the circumstances and the reasons for writing


Assessing the readership / audience

- anticipating the reader's interests; level of understanding

For  whom?

Deciding on the core information that should be transmitted and its relevant aspects


Working on the message and letting your personality show through

adapting your writing style to that particular communication situation


From another point of view:

planing your writing (why? and for whom?)

developing a strategy for writing




uniqueness of individual writing style

a.       Denotation and connotation

b.      Concrete and abstract words

c.       The tone of the message

d.      Short or long words?

e.       Familiar and unbiased words


1.a. Denotation and connotation

the two co-ordinates of the meaning of every word

words have potential meaning


the sender's intention and knowledge

the receiver's understanding and attitude

Denotation = the factual definition of an object / situation / quality / idea etc.

Connotation = how a person feels about a word

A word

may have more than one denotative meaning


graphic symbol for a sound A, D, M

information / message sent to somebody

connotations vary significantly [sometimes antagonistic connotations may be given to the same word]

ignorant 'lack of knowledge' usually negative connotation

in legal disputes: positive connotation

My client was totally ignorant of any misuse of funds

When we write


  • to take into account both the denotations and the connotations of the words
  • to create adequate context
  • to use dictionaries (synonyms, spelling, cross-reference) creativity
  • to increase the reader's interest
  • to create a good impression
  • Uniqueness of individual writing style

starts to develop in childhood

through the whole learning process

during our whole life

b.     it reflects

our background


life experience

career training


c. necessary

to help the reader interpret the message in the way we want

additional knowledge about words

1.b. Concrete and abstract words

Concrete words:

denotation sends to tangible persons, objects, events, places

Examples: ball, house, excavator, smile, town etc.

They are:



specific in nature

The use of concrete words:

avoids misunderstanding (+)

cannot express fully what the reader intended ()

Abstract words:





Examples: professionalism, friendship, honesty, quality control, decision-making, debate

Their meaning:

more difficult to express


to define them

to illustrate them

to place them in adequate context

to use them with caution

the reader should know exactly what we mean



a group of close friends

your office colleagues

specialists in the same field

mathematical concept

majority, most, few, several – interpretation left to the reader

Business writing – clarity = a main objective

Abstract words

Concrete words

The amount the client has to pay is large.

1. The client has to pay $ 20,000.

The draft will be due in several months.

The draft will be due in three months.

We are ready to cover part of these expenses.

3. We are ready to cover 40 % of these expenses.

1.c. The tone of the message

Combination of words range of impressions tone of the message




Difficult task: it involves:

finding the most appropriate words

careful selection

creating adequate context

dealing with positive and negative words

Generally thought:

negative words problematic in communication

Examples: no, disappoint, unable, cannot, delay, defect


Examples: 'On inspecting the shipment, we were unable to find any flaw'.

negative words positive meaning

importance of context


to convey bad news

to say no with a negative word

depends on the relationship with the reader/partner

two possibilities


a.      No complaint will be taken into account after 45 days.

b.      Complaints will be taken into account if made within 45 days.

1.d. Short or long words

Requirement: writing in business is short and simple

Yet the use of short, simple words does not always guarantee clearness


to consider the reader first

to decide on the level of writing

Sometimes: short/simple words  overused; lose their power


to use vivid/lively words

impact on the reader



Pursuant your request, we are enclosing herewith a copy of our catalogue.

improved version

Here is our catalogue you requested.

1.e. Familiar and unbiased words


to avoid


slang expression

words showing gender, age, race discrimination

to be more sensitive to people's feelings

to select words that express sensitivity.


General aspects

Communication between companies various means

telephones (mobile phones)

fax machines

the Internet

Phone messages, faxes or e-mail messages a certain degree of informality, that may not illustrate the real nature of the relationship

  • such messages are sent by persons who do not have the necessary authority for making decisions on behalf of the company
  • the information conveyed can not be taken as having official value

Consequently any important element in business, discussed or agreed upon the phone should be confirmed by an official, formal letter

For this reason (and for many others) writing ability appears in the top three activities of a business person

Businesses value effective communicators:

being an effective writer can enhance your professional career

the letters you write become your ambassadors

people in other departments of the company get to know you through your writing

your letters may get your superiors’ attention showing how effective or ineffective you are as a business communicator.

The layout of a business letter

Information about:

the two companies that communicate by letters

the people authorised to communicate on behalf of each company

or may refer to the filing system that enables tracing a letter (or a number of letters in the correspondence file)

Fig. 1. Main parts ofness letter

The letterhead

Information about the sender:

the company’s name and status

its address

telephone/fax number/ e‑mail address

the logo

The date

There are various ways to express date:

The 1st of November 2001

November 1st, 2001

In business correspondence pattern recommended:

2 November 2001


The reference line

Your ref. (“your reference”)

Our ref. (“our reference”)

helps tracing a letter in the file

the name of the person who signed the letter

the name of the typist

the filing code

Example: Your ref.: FW/ms/P

the letter was written/signed by Frank Warrington

it was typed by Mary Storm

is located in the file P (“petrol”) 25

'Our ref.' gives similar information about the sender

The inside address indicates the following:

name and address of the addressee

position in the company (e.g. The Supply Manager, The Chief Accountant etc.)


mail address – written exactly as given by your partner

The salutation

Forms of address used to open business letters

depend on:  

the addressee’s status

the social distance between the partners

Dear Sir – when the addressee is a gentleman whose name we do not know;

Dear Sirs – used to address a company;

Dear Madam – the addressee is a lady whose name we do not know;

Dear Mr Robertson/ Dear Ms Watson – to address a person whose name is known to the writer;

Dear Bill used to address a person with whom the writer is on friendly terms

High officials or personalities:

(the addressee’s name is associated with)

courtesy titles

titles deriving from appointment or honours


Useful information:

no special form of address for the Prime Minister and members of the Ministry

ambassadors are addressed as:

Your Excellency (formal)

Dear Mr Rodson or Dear Lord Bart

The subject line

below the salutation and underlined

tells what the letter is about

helps the reader direct the letter to the right person

facilitates fast processing of correspondence

Dear Mr Winter

Tax collection

The body of the letter the main text of the letter (the message of the letter)

the rule of the “ four Cs”

clear, concise, correct, courteous

divided into paragraphs

information distributed according to the role of each paragraph

The opening paragraph

makes connection between the subject line and the rest of the text (' above' or 'above-mentioned')

refers to the source of information, which is used as a basis for the letter you are writing

The following two or three paragraphs

the proper message of the letter

describe facts/give arguments/ make complaints/ make suggestions etc (according to the purpose of the letter)

The closing paragraph

emphasises the main idea of the letter

restate the writer’s point of view

conclusion of the letter

The last sentence of this paragraph often contains the formula:

We look/are looking forward to hearing/ receiving news from you

We look/are looking forward to your answer/reply/letter

The complimentary line

depends on the level of formality

the relationship between the writer and the addressee

directly related to the salutation

Differences between British and American English:

British English


Complimentary line

Dear Madam / Sir(s)

Yours faithfully

Dear Mr/Mrs/Ms/Miss Waters/ Dear colleague/friend/customer

Yours sincerely

Dear Mary

Yours/ Best regards/ wishes/ Kind regards

American English


Complimentary line

Gentlemen:/ Dear Madam / Sir(s)

Truly yours

Dear Mr/Mrs/Ms/Miss Hudson

Yours sincerely

Dear Nicholas

Best regards/ Cordially

The signature given together with

the writer's name

the writer’s position in the company

If the writer is not the person authorised to sign the letter:

the printed name is preceded by:

p.p. (per procurationem) or


Mary Smith

p.p. Tom Richard

Supply Manager

Enclosure line the last point of a business letter

abbreviated to Enc./encl.

gives the list of additional documents sent with the letter:

Encl.: 2 copies of the Monthly Statement

Types of business letter layout

Layout patterns/ styles:

v          indented style

v          block style

v          semi-indented style

The indented style requires:


inside address

complimentary close

signature block

each line be indented as compared to the line above

closed punctuation (full stops, commas, etc) is used after each element and line of these layout items

letter body

the first line of each paragraph is indented

reference line

date line

complimentary line

are placed on the right-hand side

The block style

all layout items are placed on the left-hand side

punctuation is omitted from all the items except for the main letter body

each line of the paragraphs starts in the left-hand margin

paragraphs are separated by double space

The two patterns differ from many points of view

However, the use of punctuation in the main body of the letter is compulsory in both cases.

Combinations of the two patterns:

semi-block style - (when some elements are placed in the centre of the paper or on the right-hand side)

semi-indented style indentation of the first line of each paragraph

full punctuation (inside address, salutation, complimentary line, signature block and enclosure line)

Lecture 6


Text Box: SUNSHINE Hotels
10 Lion Street 
7 AHD Amsterdam
The Netherlands

15 December 2003
Your ref:
Our ref: AC/gc/ Amst 03

12 Queen Mary Street
District 3 

Dear Sirs
Re: Banking services

We …1… your …2… from Mr Toma Danescu, General Manager of 'RomTour'- Bucharest, who has …3… you as one of the most reliable banks in Romania.

We are …4… the hotel…5… and our …6… of hotels is well-known …7… Europe. We have recently …8… the Romanian market, with two …9… in Bucharest and we would …10… to …11… your bank for paying …12…our staff …12…our suppliers.

We would …14… if you …14… send us …15… about the card system and credit lines you can …16… us.

We look …18… to …19… from you soon.

Yours …20…
Steven Carlsson
Head of Finance Department
Complete the following letter and then answer the questions:

  1. Who writes on behalf of SUNSHINE Hotels?
  2. Who is the addressee?
  3. What information is given in the first paragraph?
  4. What does Mr Carlsson say in the second paragraph of his letter?
  5. Which of the phrases below would you use to refer to Mr. Carlsson's action?

He is arranging a meeting

making payment

sorting out letters

giving a presentation

making an enquiry

making a proposal

Letters of enquiry asking for information

You make an enquiry in order to find out:

where you can find the product

how much you have to pay for it

if you can get a discount

what quantities of that product are available

how soon the supplier may honour your order

what similar products are available on the market

The paragraphs of an enquiry letter have clear functions:






(how you found information about the addressee: name, address, type of business etc.)

'We have found the September issue of your magazine in the library of 'RomTour'-Bucharest.'

'Mr. Steven Robson, Managing Director of FINDAS Corporation, one of our partners, has recommended your company to us and …'

'We have heard of your firm at the 3rd Fair of Consumer Goods in Tokyo last year.'

2nd ; 3rd

giving additional information about the situation;

giving brief information about your company;

offering to give further information;

launching the request.

'We are in the hotel industry and our chain of hotels is well-known throughout Europe'

'Our company is involved in road building.'

'We will be happy to offer you further details.'

'We would like your comments on the possibility of organising a joint conference.'

'We would appreciate if you would consider our proposal for a partnership.'

'Could you please send us your catalogue and price list?'

last paragraph

ending the letter (a formal sentence to close politely)

'We look forward to hearing from you.'

The general structure of an enquiry letter:

may begin directly with the request

information about the sender + his interest in the request made

has to indicate the source of information, which has facilitated the enquiry

Letters enquiring about people more specific

it shows clearly who you are enquiring about

describes the situation that has led to the enquiry (promotion to a top position, new employment, a prospective merger/partnership etc.)


  • include a set of clear questions that will help the respondent to structure the answer accordingly
  • these letters should
  • the information supplied should be used for business purposes only
  • getting or giving information about someone with the permission from the person concerned
  • such information must be treated confidentially


A serious businessperson will always answer an enquiry.


positive an order or a contract will follow

negative (refusal)

Interested in the proposal answer it promptly!

Experienced business people use to move fast:

confirm the letter: orally, over the phone, by e-mail

a formal letter will be sent later

Read the enquiry reply letter below and then find in its text the parts that comply with the functions given in the list below:

a.       confirming receipt of enquiry and thanking for the letter

b.       expressing satisfaction for being contacted

c.       giving specific information in answer to the questions in the enquiry

d.       taking action

e.       closing optimistically, expressing hope for future co-operation

23 King Ferdinand Bulevard
District 1, Bucharest 

20 December 2003

Your ref: SC/gc/Rom.03
Our ref: OD/ms/ Amst 03

10 Lion Street 
7 AHD Amsterdam
The Netherlands

Dear Mr Carlsson,
Re: Your letter of 15 December 2003

Thank you for your above-mentioned letter enquiring about our banking services. As you have found out from some of our clients, our standards are high and our services prompt and efficient.

We have recently developed our range of products, including some new credit lines, which are successfully used by many large Romanian firms and foreign companies working in Romania.

We are sending you enclosed a detailed description of our products and hope that you will find them suitable for you. Please contact us by phone or e-mail if you have additional questions. Our staff will be glad to help you make the best choice.

We look forward to hearing from you soon.

Yours sincerely

Oana Dumitrescu
Head of Marketing Department

2. Giving negative replies to enquiries

2.a Complete the following sentences that are often used in letters expressing refusal:

We are __________ that we ___________ send the goods so soon.

We ________sorry ______ we  ________ unable to help you ______ developing the project.

We are sorry to _________you that we __________invest in hotel industry.

We _________ that we are __________to grant you such a big loan without third-_______ guarantee.

We ____________ inform you _______ the C12 video projectors are _____ of stock.

We _________to inform you that the opening you are interested in was filled two weeks ago.

____________, you have failed to supply the goods as per the contract.

2.b Now fill in the paragraphs below taken from two letters of refusal:

'We …1… to inform you that we no …2… manufacture the projector type you are …3… in. Instead, we could …4… you a similar product at an affordable …5… and significantly …6… characteristics.'

' Thank you for …1… letter …2…20 June 2004 …3… about a bank …4….

After careful …5… of your documents, we …6… to …7… you that we are …8… to help you.

…9…, you do not …10… sufficient collateral, as it results …11…your documents.'

A letter of refusal

carefully worded

the general tone of the letter respect and understanding

to create a favourable atmosphere for a possible relationship in the future


confirm receipt of the enquiry letter

express regret (for not being able to help)

give reasons for your negative answer

offer an alternative (if possible)

end on a friendly, encouraging tone

Text Box: STAR Bank
5 Long Street
3E 56 EG
Great Britain

Grungwald and Son
24 Forest Street
The Netherlands

Dear Mr Grundwald
Reply to enquiry

Thank you for your letter …1…18 May 2002.

…2… your proposal is very attractive, we …3… that we are …4… to invest in your project for the moment.

…5… some management changes, we …6… restricted our …7… funds for a certain …8…of time. We …9… move back to our …10… investment …11… as …12… as some old …13… will …14…been …15…. We estimate that this will not …16…more …17…six months. …18… your proposal is really interesting; we can take your project as a priority at that time.

Thank you again for your…19….
…20… our proposal does …21…fit you, we would like to …22…you every success in the future.

Yours …23…

Mary Bray
Head of Investments Department


Possible reasons/situations of complaint related

delayed delivery


slow operations

inadequate invoices

incomplete information


bad behaviour

breakdown of the IT system

delays in money transfer


inadequate advice

slow recording of documents

ineficiency in manipulating documents


delivery of the wrong goods

Conflicts are very frequent in business.

Partners interested in achieving and defending their interests and goals

When conflicts occur try to solve them amiably

without affecting the basic relationship

without damaging the professional image or position held in the business environment

keep the costs of the conflict to the minimum

An effective way:

let our partner know that something wrong happened

try to find out about the causes of the mistake that have generated our discontent

speak or write about them

Making complaints

3.a What functions do the following phrases (a -f) express?

a.       'We are ready to do that if you can offer us a 2% discount for the remaining shipments.'

b.      ' We are writing with reference to the above-mentioned contract for repair works.'

c.       ' We can presume that the contents of the second van were intended for another customer.'

d.      ' However, we regret to inform you that …'

e.       ' We are sorry to remind you that, if you do not replace the wrong goods within 10 days as from the receipt of this letter, we will be obliged to refer to the Penalty Clause stipulated in our contract.'

f.        ' According to a previous agreement with you, we have placed the merchandise in our warehouse and we will keep it there until you can collect it.'

stating the subject; reference to documents (connection with the 'subject line', if expressed)

stating the reason of complaint;

suggesting possible causes of the problem;

stating the action you request your partner to take;

mentioning the action taken by you (if any)

making suggestions to solve the problem (special requests to compensate you for the losses suffered; mentioning penalties if the partners may fail to repair the situation).


Romanian Division

The Continental Hotel

Str. Azurului 15, Sector 2

63451 Bucuresti, Romania

30 September 2004

Mr Doru Dinescu



12 Queen Mary Street

District 3, Bucuresti, Romania

Dear Mr. Dinescu

Contract 215 of 27 March 2004

We are …1…in connection with our… 2… contract for staff payment through card systems …3…between your bank and our…4….

As …5… in the contract, your bank …6… transfer the corresponding …7… to our staff individual …8… before the 9th day of each month. Everything went quite well until June 2004 when our employees …9… about  their accounts …10… credited one week after the …11…date.

Since this …12… again in July and September, we wonder what has …13…with the relevant department of your bank.

…14…, we have …15… all the records and documents delivery dates for …16…our …17…staff are responsible, but everything has been …18… without …19… delay or mistake.

Since …20… in …21…payment is a very serious matter, we …22… inform you that, if you do not take …23… so as such things be completely…24…, we will be …25… to …26…to the …27…Clause in our contract and even to …28…the contract altogether.

In the hope that the situation will be …29…as soon as possible, we look forward to hearing from you.

Yours …30…

Tom Bell

Financial Manager

3.b Explaining the problem

Writing letters of complaint a difficult task

explaining the problem a key function in this situation

make the reader understand his full responsibility for the negative consequences deriving from the mistake

the letter should convey the necessary encouragement for immediate action

try to maintain the previous friendly relationship

Striking balance between irritation and politeness

the writer's ability to select adequate language

Polite negative messages:

'we are sorry but we have to remind you that……'


'we regretfully inform you that……'

'we regret but we have to draw your attention to ……'

'we are sorry to inform you that……'

'we were surprised to find out that……'


Match the following meanings of the verbs in italics with the sentences below:

a.       regulate

b.       put in order

c.       settling claims

d.       in  harmonious relations with other persons

e.       change one's way of living, thinking, etc.

You have to be grateful to her for helping you to become a well-adjusted young man.

Please do not adjust your sets! (warning on TV screen)

Managers have to adjust themselves to new cultural contexts.

I've checked it myself. Our partner is right. We've delivered less than agreed. We have to send them an adjustment letter.

The device adjusts itself to changes in humidity.

An adjustment letter is an attempt to restore the relationship and maintain the company's good reputation. As a result, its tone should be polite and reconciliatory and should help to achieve the following functions:

confirm receipt of the complaint letter;

explain the cause(s) of the problem;

mention action taken so as the problem may not happen again;

reassure the customer;

state the steps taken in order to solve the problem;

if a solution was suggested, give your opinion by accepting it or coming up with a counterproposal;

apologise for the trouble caused and end optimistically.

12 Queen Mary Street
District 3
4 Oct.2004
Your ref: TB/tg/ Rm 04
Our ref: DD/md/ BCC 

Romanian Division
Str. Amurgului 28
Sector 4

Dear Mr Bell
Complaint - Contract 215 of 27 March 2004

We …1… receipt of your letter …2… 30 September 2004, …3… the delay in …4… for your staff as per the …5… contract.

We have looked …6… the matter and found …7… that your …8…is…9…. Due to an …10…breakdown of the IT…11…, the last step of the money …12…procedure …13…not be …14…at the …15… time. Besides, in July, we …16…two persons for money tranfer …17…and it …18…some time until they got …19…with the whole system.

We are …20…very …21…for the …22…created and we …23…you that no …24…will occur from now …25…. We have taken measures that the …26…-hired persons …27…helped by an …28… officer for a period of six months. The …29…of department will increase …30…on this area of activity. Also, in …31… for the situation you have …32… through, we …33… to carry out bank operations for your staff, free of…34…, for a period of three months.

…35…again for the trouble …36…to you, we do hope that this regrettable …37… will not …38… our future…39….


Doru Dinescu

Clients usually request compensation for the loss incurred:

a discount

an additional quantity

an extension of time for completion etc.

Unjustified complaints

There are situations when their claims should be rejected

  1. In such a case, the letter should include a paragraph stating clearly that you cannot accept responsibility for the mistake and, consequently, no compensation will be given.
  2. Rejection of complaints should be done in a polite way, no matter how firm the writer's attitude may be.

4. Choose a suitable paragraph from column B in order to reject complaints in column A:



1. the quality of the flour is not the same as that agreed on; the client asks for a 3% reduction in price for the whole quantity

a.       We are sorry but we cannot accept your complaint. Our experts have established that you did not observe the maintenance instructions. Therefore, we cannot assume any responsibility.

2. the printers have been installed soon after unpacking but they do not work; the client wants the printers to be replaced

b. Our people have checked the whole lot carefully and found out that the fabric has been damaged during transportation. Consequently, we cannot be kept responsible as the damage occurred in transit.

3. the whole lot of fabric must be replaced as it is stained and torn

c. We have investigated your complaint carefully. Samples of the material have been taken and tested again. They comply fully with the standard agreed on. We regret we cannot accept your complaint and, consequently, no reduction in payment will be made.

4. after three month operation, five of the washing machines bought for the hotel laundry seem to have serious defects; the client claims that the machines be replaced

d. Our experts have looked into the matter and say that the printers have not been installed according to our instructions. Therefore, we can offer you technical assistance to correct the installing defects but we do not accept to replace them.

Politica de confidentialitate



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