Refusal letter

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Refusal letter
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Refusal letter is a type of the letter, which main goal is to turn down a request, offer, proposal or application or simply to refuse something.

L. Sue Baugh writes: The basic principle of writing refusal letter is courtesy first and refusal second. This principle applies to any type of refusal letter[1].

The letter should show the writers appreciation and gratitude but also state the reason for refusing and at the very end it should present final decision. The author of the letter should apologize to the minimum. This is an important rule as some of the addresses may treat apologies as a chance for further discussion and Negotiation. The person, who receives the letter should be satisfied with an explanation, even though slightly disappointed.

That type of the letter is a perfect chance to help the addressee accept the negative feedback, but it also leaves the door open for further future discussion and mutual agreement, if the written and receiver meet again under different circumstances. The letter can also help the reader to see the opportunities, by showing him what he/she could change or do for future in order to receive the acceptance letter.

Therefore, the  successful refusal letter should be written in the good tone and tact. It should be positive despite, all the circumstances. The writer should be objective, tell the facts, but be at the same time tactful.

As Raymond suggests[2], since the major goal of a refusal letter is to say no, you should:

  • Say no-plainly and directly,
  • Explain and justify your decision before refusing,
  • Apologize for the bad news

The structure and form of this letter should be adjusted to the particular situation and the reader. In case the reader might be emotional the letter should be written in persuasive structure. If the situation is rather neutral, and no emotional investment is involved the writer can use direct approach in order to refuse. One can refuse by writing short email or a note e.g. as this will not cause any  “heart feelings”.

Persuasive letter structure

In case of the letter that is like to be emotional for the reader the persuasive letter structure[3]. It usually has 5 paragraphs, that serves the concrete role:

  • 1st paragraph-Thanking for the contact, building positive impression;
  • 2nd paragraph-Giving context by being neutral, rational, and providing the arguments thanks to which the reader will understand the final decision;
  • 3rd paragraph-Saying “no” in a clear and diplomatic way;
  • 4th paragraph-Giving the alternative that will give the reader hope and some positive feelings,
  • 5th paragraph-Positive ending by thanking and giving the reader the contact if needed;

How to write rejection letter

It should have a proper structure as usually is a formal letter. To write rejection letter follow below points [4]:

  1. Use company Letterhead,
  2. Letter should be short and dyplomatic,
  3. Use job candidate's name for example Dear Ms. Surname/ Dear Mr. Surname,
  4. Thank the candidate for applying for the position,
  5. Simple straight decision,
  6. Be supportive and include positive notes as Quality/ Qualifications,
  7. Finish letter with signature, courteous salutation,


  1. L. Sue Baugh i in. 1994, p. 201
  2. Lesikar Raymond V., John Pettit 9. (1995). Basic Business Communication, McGraw-Hill Education, s. 35-36
  3. Carol M. Cram 2009, s. 88-89 can be used
  4. D. Mayer (2011),s.101


Author: Dominika Zaich