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  3. often in business communication you cannot answer an inquiry immediately...

Question: often in business communication you cannot answer an inquiry immediately...

Question details

Often in business communication, you cannot answer an inquiry immediately. You may need time to perform research in order to respond comprehensively, or the sender's request may fall lower in priority at that particular moment.

Regardless of the reason, it is important to respond to the inquiry promptly to let the correspondent know that you received their message and will work towards a more comprehensive response within a specified time frame. Avoid emotional responses and exaggerations - stick to the facts/presented information and use an indirect order:

  • Open with a buffer/neutral introduction. Hint: Typically, the neutral opening is one sentence, which counts as a paragraph in business communication.  
  • Present your reason(s) for the news, in such a way that the reader will accept the news as positively as possible.
  • State the bad news as positively as the situation permits  (not knowing the answer or needing more time to research).
  • Present an alternative solution (date or timeline when you will respond with an answer).
  • Close with good will. Hint: End with a one sentence paragraph that ends on a positive note with a forward-looking statement.

For this discussion board, you will do the following:

Part A: Short negative news message

Choose one of the following scenarios and post a 2-3 paragraph response. You may introduce additional details in your response if you like. For short negative news messages, sometimes senders will combine the reasoning with the negative news and into one 2-3 sentence paragraph. Alternatively, the sender may choose to provide reasoning in a short paragraph (1-2 sentences) and then combine the negative news and alternative in one 2-3 sentence paragraph. (Note: In business communication, one sentence at the beginning and end can count as a paragraph and often helps highlight your main point or omit unnecessary detail.)  

Scenario 1. An angry customer rudely demands to know why his package has not yet arrived. Your company routinely uses UPS to send packages. UPS typically sends both you and your customer a tracking number for convenience. You are out of the office and unable to track the package. Write a diplomatic and factual response to the customer.

Scenario 2. You are a department manager for a mid-sized company. One of your reports applied for a promotion last month and has not heard back from human resources. She asks you, her manager, if she has received the promotion via email. You know that a candidate was selected, but you do not know who yet. Write a response to your report.    

Scenario 3. You are part of a team working on implementing a new dress code at your company. Unfortunately, no official announcements or memos were ever distributed and rumors are spreading concerning what the dress code will entail. A concerned employee emails you and demands to know more details about the dress code. Respond to the employee.

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