How to: Be diplomatic in an email



Do you have a sensitive or potentially difficult situation to address in an email? Or do you need to give some ‘bad news’ to a client or customer? Here are some tips and phrases that can help you produce a diplomatic tone.

1. Using ‘softening’ language and sentence starters:

• I’m afraid there is a problem with…
• We’re sorry but this deal/arrangement is not acceptable to us
• Unfortunately, we will not be renewing the contract with you
• We regret to advise/tell you that we no longer require your services
• It seems/appears that there has been some misunderstanding between us on this matter.

2. Using ‘distancing’ language (‘would/could/might’):

• We would like (/be happy) to discuss/negotiate/consider this matter further.
• With regard to your concerns I would appreciate your patience while we try to resolve this situation.
• We believe that we could offer our help/services/a solution to this problem.
• Your suggestion/offer might be workable/acceptable if we are able to agree one or two small changes.
• Could I suggest one or two alterations/changes to the proposal?

3. Using more ‘positive’ phrases and modifying adjectives:

• Your offer is not as generous as we hoped.
• I’m afraid we are not completely happy with this deal.
• I was a bit surprised by your reaction/response to this situation.
• We’re sorry but your comments regarding this situation are not quite correct.

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