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Writing difficult messages

It can be very hard to write messages that you know will be difficult or upsetting for people to receive, like telling a student that they have failed a course or have overdue fees.

In these situations, you might find yourself writing in a more official and impersonal tone than usual. This creates a distance between you and the message you have to craft, which makes it easier to write.

A more effective approach is to think about how you want the reader to feel. If your message is dull, condescending or uncaring, they are less likely to read it carefully and take in the important information.

If you write with the aim of making the reader feel encouraged and supported, you are more likely to get a positive outcome. It’s harder, but it’s worth it.