10 Tips on How to Write a Difficult Email with Ease

If there’s one thing that can strike fear into the hearts of even the most confident and competent professionals, it’s writing a difficult email. Maybe it’s delivering bad news to a client or customer, addressing a sensitive personnel issue, or simply saying “no” to a request that you know will disappoint the recipient. Whatever the reason, crafting an effective and respectful email in these situations is a challenge that many of us struggle with. But fear not – there are steps you can take to make the process easier and increase the chances of a positive outcome. In this article, you’ll learn some tips and best practices for writing difficult emails, and you’ll find some real-life examples that you can use as templates or edit to fit your situation. So take a deep breath, steel your resolve, and let’s get started.

The Best Structure for Writing a Difficult Email

Writing a difficult email can be a daunting task, especially if you’re unsure of how to structure it in a way that effectively communicates your message without causing offense or confusion. Whether you’re delivering bad news, criticizing someone’s behavior, or asking for a favor, the way you present your message can significantly impact its reception.

To ensure that your email achieves its intended purpose, follow this structure:

1. Begin with a Brief Introduction

Start by briefly introducing yourself and explaining why you’re sending the email. For example, if you’re addressing a problem with a product or service, briefly state your experience with the issue. This helps the recipient understand the context of your email and sets the tone for the rest of your message.

2. Clearly State the Issue

Once you have laid the groundwork with your introduction, clearly state the issue at hand. Be specific and avoid beating around the bush. Ambiguity can lead to confusion and could ultimately impede the resolution of the issue. If you’re criticizing someone’s behavior, provide specific examples and explain how the behavior has impacted those involved.

3. Offer Solutions

After stating the issue, you should offer possible solutions. This shows that you’ve thought about the situation, and you’re willing to work towards a resolution. In many cases, you might not have a solution, but at least showing willingness can have a positive effect on the recipient. Moreover, if you’re offering a potential solution but not entirely sure if it’s effective, ask the recipient for feedback on how to move forward.

4. End with a Positive Note

It’s important to end on a positive note by reiterating the value of the relationship and expressing appreciation for the recipient’s time and attention. Even if you’re writing to criticize, remember that there are potential points of agreement or common ground that you can build on. Focusing on positive outcomes can set a tone for constructive communication and help mitigate any negative feelings.

In conclusion, by structuring your difficult email precisely, you improve your chance to make sure your message comes across as intended. Stick to the above structure to craft a message that strikes the right tone, avoids ambiguity, and increases your chance of a positive response.

Difficult Email Templates

Request for Payment

Dear [Client Name],

I hope this email finds you well. I am writing to follow up on the payment for the services rendered by our company to your organization. It has been over two months since we have submitted our invoice, but we are yet to receive the full payment.

We understand that some delays may occur, but we kindly request that you settle the outstanding amount as soon as possible. We would appreciate prompt payment in order to avoid any further inconvenience.

Thank you for your cooperation in advance.

Best regards,

[Your Name]

Denial of Request for Refund

Dear [Customer Name],

Thank you for reaching out regarding the refund request for the product purchased from us. We are sorry to inform you that we cannot approve this request based on our return policy.

The reason for the denial is that the product was used and no longer in its original condition, which is one of the requirements for a successful refund process. We would like to remind you that our return policy is clearly stated on our website and the packaging of the product.

We apologize for any inconvenience this may cause and appreciate your understanding of our policy.


[Your Name]

Termination of Employment

Dear [Employee Name],

It is with regret that I am writing to inform you that your employment with our company will be terminated effective immediately. This decision has been made as a result of a violation of company policies by you.

Despite multiple opportunities and counseling sessions, there has been no improvement in your behavior, and it is clear that the situation cannot continue. We take our policies and values extremely seriously, and your actions have brought about this consequence.

We will provide you with the necessary documents and information pertaining to the termination process, including severance pay, if applicable.

We wish you the best of luck in your future endeavors.


[Your Name]

Rejection of Proposal

Dear [Recipient Name],

We appreciate the time and effort you put into preparing the proposal for the project. However, after careful consideration, we regret to inform you that we will not be able to move forward with your proposal.

We have a lot of respect for your work, and the decision does not reflect the quality of your proposal, but rather our current needs and priorities. We will keep your contact information on file for future reference and opportunities.

Thank you for your interest in working with us.

Best regards,

[Your Name]

Cancellation of Travel Plans

Dear [Travel Agency/Lodging/Transportation Provider Name],

I am writing to cancel the travel plans that were previously arranged with your company. Unfortunately, due to unforeseen circumstances, I will not be able to proceed with the trip as planned.

I understand that cancellation fees may apply, and I am willing to comply with your policies and procedures in this regard. Please let me know if there is any paperwork or documentation required from my side to complete the cancellation process.

Thank you for your assistance and understanding in this matter.

Yours sincerely,

[Your Name]

Complaint About a Product or Service

Dear [Company Name],

I am writing to express my dissatisfaction with the product/service that was delivered to me recently by your company. [Provide specific details about the issue faced and the negative impact it had on you].

I am disappointed with the experience and expected better quality and standards from a reputable company like yours. I hope that you can take the necessary steps to rectify the situation and prevent such incidents from occurring in the future.

I would appreciate a prompt response and resolution to this matter.

Thank you for your attention to this matter.

Kind regards,

[Your Name]

Request for Information

Dear [Recipient Name],

I hope this email finds you well. I am writing to request some information regarding [Provide the details about the information you are seeking].

I understand that you may be busy, but this information is essential to complete my current project, and I would appreciate your assistance in this matter. If you are unable to provide the information directly, please let me know who else I may contact to obtain it.

Thank you for your help and cooperation in advance.

Best regards,

[Your Name]

Tips for Writing Difficult Emails

Writing difficult emails can be a daunting task, especially if you are unsure about the recipient’s reaction. However, with a little bit of planning and strategy, you can craft an email that effectively communicates your message while maintaining a professional tone. Here are some tips to help you write a difficult email:

  • Stay calm and composed – It’s easy to let emotions take control when writing a difficult email. However, it’s important to remain calm and composed while crafting your message. Take a break if needed and make sure you are in the right mindset before sending an email.
  • Clarify your intentions – Be clear about your intentions for sending the email. Do you want to resolve a conflict or provide constructive feedback? Knowing your intentions will help you stay focused on the purpose of your email.
  • Be direct and concise – Avoid beating around the bush and get straight to the point. State the issue or problem clearly and provide specific details to support your claims. Keep your message concise and avoid writing lengthy emails.
  • Use a professional tone – Even if you are frustrated, it’s important to maintain a professional tone in your email. Avoid using harsh or accusatory language and instead, use a conversational tone to communicate your message.
  • Offer solutions – Instead of just pointing out the problem, offer solutions to resolve the issue. This will show that you are willing to work towards finding a solution and can prevent the recipient from becoming defensive.
  • Avoid personal attacks – Criticize the behavior, not the person. Personal attacks can damage relationships and make the situation worse. Stick to the facts and avoid making assumptions about the recipient.
  • Proofread your email – Before hitting send, make sure to proofread your email for any spelling or grammar errors. A poorly written email can distract from your message and make you appear unprofessional.

By following these tips, you can write a difficult email with confidence and effectively communicate your message while maintaining a professional tone.

Tips for writing a difficult email

What should I do before writing the email?

Before writing the email, take a few deep breaths to calm down and gather your thoughts. It’s important to be clear about the purpose and your desired outcome of the email.

How do I start the email?

Start by addressing the receiver respectfully and explain the reason for the email in a clear and concise manner. Avoid using ambiguous language that can be interpreted in different ways.

How do I handle emotionally charged topics in the email?

Acknowledge the emotions involved and use empathetic language to show that you understand the receiver’s point of view. Avoid blaming or accusing language and focus on finding solutions rather than dwelling on the problem.

How do I communicate negative feedback without offending or demotivating the recipient?

Use a constructive approach by giving specific examples of what needs improvement and providing suggestions for how to improve. Also, avoid using negative or judgmental language and make sure to acknowledge any positives before addressing the negatives.

How do I make sure the message is clear and concise?

Use short and simple sentences and avoid complex wording or jargon that can confuse the reader. Use bullet points or numbered lists to break down information and make it easier to understand.

How do I end the email?

End the email with a clear call to action, summarizing what you expect from the reader. Also, thank the reader for their time and express your willingness to provide any support or assistance to help resolve the issue.

How do I proofread the email before hitting send?

Read the email out loud to yourself to catch any errors or awkward phrasing. Also, use spell check and grammar check tools to ensure that the email is error-free. If possible, get a colleague or friend to review the email before sending it.

How do I deal with a negative response to the email?

Stay calm and avoid getting defensive or aggressive. Acknowledge the concerns raised and try to find common ground to move forward. If necessary, arrange a face-to-face or phone meeting to discuss the issue in more detail.

What is the best way to follow up on the email?

If you haven’t received a response within a reasonable timeframe, send a polite follow-up email or call the recipient to check if they received the email and have any questions or concerns. Avoid being pushy or demanding.

Wrapping it up!

Well, folks, that’s all for this article on how to write a difficult email! We hope that you found these tips useful for your future emails. Remember, writing difficult emails might be a daunting task, but with these tips in mind, you’ll be able to navigate them with ease. Thanks for reading and visit again later for more articles like this over a warm cup of coffee or tea!