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Guidelines : No Replies

“No” Replies

Guidelines

  • Begin on a positive, or at least neutral, note—even if simply a restatement of the request or assurance that you have carefully studied the situation. The “bottom-line” message in a “no” reply should not come upfront because it hits the reader too hard; some audiences would not even bother to read your following explanation.
  • Build up with reasons for your forthcoming “no.” In this fashion, you are asking the reader to examine the evidence with you and to accept your reasoning and conclusion. Don’t prolong the explanations to the point that you sound defensive or pleading; however, don’t make your explanations so brief and general as to be unconvincing.
  • Don’t hide behind “company policy” or a that’s-the-way-we’ve-always-done-it explanation. Even if company policy or past experience is a valid basis for your response, explain the reasoning behind the policy or past action.
  • Don’t give a patronizing lecture about how things should be or state obvious platitudes. Watch admonitions such as, “We should not incur any unnecessary expenses.” Who should?
  • Make a firm statement of your “no” answer.
  • Mention any conditions under which you will reconsider—for example, “when priorities change,” “when business improves,” or “if we have branches not following these procedures.”
  • Offer any alternative “yes” willingly, not begrudgingly.
  • End on a positive note. At least thank readers for their interest or effort. Don’t get sidetracked in discussing other issues to which you object; leave those for a later memo. Leave them with a back-to-business-as-usual feeling.

Example 1: Declination letters

[Subordinate has requested approval to install new control title-policy procedures.]

Memorandum

TO:

FROM:

DATE:

SUBJECT: Programming of New Procedures to Control Title Policies

In reviewing your memo of June 22, I noted that Mike Francis is attempting to install a procedure to control title policies by February 19—. I’m very concerned that we don’t have people who are checking on people who are checking on people. I prefer offices where one person performs and controls all functions. Such autonomy creates variety on the job and helps fix responsibility for outstanding achievement.

I have asked Mic Lakeland to make a study of all policies being sent to Pittsburgh and to decide which of these might be eliminated. Other branch offices such as Atlanta, Dowdent, and even our competitors (First American of Oregon) have cut overhead by eliminating such unnecessary distributions and checks. Also, as stated in paragraph six of your memo, we already have procedures to handle reinsurance on anything in excess of $5 million. We also have procedures to get approval for policies written for less than that.

I believe losses are going to come more from failure to follow existing procedures, such as paying off previous liens, than from issuing policies over $5 million without the reinsurance. Therefore, I do not think programming new control procedures would be appropriate or cost-effective at this time.

I do appreciate your attention to detail, however; if we do have branches that are not following these already-written instructions, please point that out to me.

Join me in cutting out some of the paperwork. Thanks.

Example 2: Refusal letters samples

[Subordinate has requested funds for a grinding upgrade team.]

Memorandum

TO:

FROM:

DATE:

SUBJECT: Grinding Upgrade Team

After our Thursday discussion about establishing a grinding upgrade team, I have reevaluated our ability to support such an effort in fiscal 19—.

Current budget and planning include an extensive press rebuild and general upgrade program and also a rebuild of one of the roughing grinders. In view of these previously established programs, of limited maintenance technicians and engineering staff, and of existing budget planning, approval of your project will be impossible at this time. I do not question your evaluation of the need for this upgrading; I simply must compare it to priorities of other programs already budgeted for this year.

Please keep me informed on other important phases of your work. We do want to remain as flexible as possible as priorities change.

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