Bad News: Case Study Henry Lai


This situation describes several problems and a few bad news e-mails that Henry Lai receives. It is rather challenging to determine one common problem of these letters; after all, not all the problems voiced in the situation resulted from this person’s guilt. However, Henry Lai still had several errors that led to such e-mails. Consequently, Henry Lai’s main problem is a flawed organization, which could partly reduce the number of troubles that fell to his lot. The symptoms of this problem are a letter from the professor, which lists all the omissions and delays of Lai, giving the corresponding consequences awaiting it. In addition, Henry Lai now needs to solve a problem with a hotel room and a wireless laser printer, which is not covered by warranty. In a poor organization, Lai risks suffering even more significant losses if it does not care about its problems and does not correctly respond to nasty letters. However, the letters themselves contain a certain number of errors that complicate their understanding or make them doubt the goodwill of the company or the author of the letters.

Background Information

Henry Lai got into a minor car accident, so he was late again for business communication courses. The insurance company sent him the bad news by e-mail that they were ending their cooperation in parallel with this. At the same time, the landlord raised the cost of housing, Henry Lai received a response that his laser printer was not covered under warranty, and a hotel room was rented for his mother in honor of the parents’ anniversary. Each of these cases was accompanied by an e-mail or voice message. According to this course, these messages contained specific errors that, with a better structure of the letter, the techniques used, would have had tremendous success and understanding on the recipient.

Problem Analysis

When evaluating such messages, according to the ACE division – analyze, compose and evaluate – it is necessary to evaluate the author’s honesty, the clarity of the news, and the sense of goodwill. The first letter to be analyzed is the landlord’s letter about the increasing rent. The author begins by stating the clear lousy news, getting the main message straight to the readers. Since readers do not expect this news, they can be annoyed and angry due to reading it; such news requires an indirect organization. The bad news is presented within this organization after explaining the reasons and buffer that mitigate the immediate fact of a price increase (Shwom & Gueldenzoph, 2019). Otherwise, the landlord used the right tricks, applying a neutral emotional background to the news and introducing good news. Perhaps this letter lacked a more explicit manifestation of goodwill at the end, but besides order, there are no more mistakes in it.

The letter from the insurance company does not indicate the bad news, resulting in the focus on it is lost instantly. An effective organization of the letter is needed here. As the channel for transmitting the message, the letter was chosen correctly since it is necessary to share information with each person-client (Shwom & Gueldenzoph, 2019). Buffer in this letter is strong enough, but so much so that the news itself is lost behind it. However, the company needs more manifestation of goodwill. The same thing was lacking for Professor Andersen, who was unhappy with the negligent student. His explanation and justification are given clearly and dryly, and the news itself, which does not contain sympathy and apology for a completely logical reason – Henry Lai is only to blame here.

An E-mail about the impossibility of repair under the warranty of a laser printer is an example of a good letter with bad news in its entirety. First, the extremely polite and friendly communication of the company’s employees, who are doing their best to soften the unpleasant news, speaks in favor of this letter. Secondly, the company offered a discount and a possible solution to the problem, accompanied by a sincere manifestation of goodwill. At the same time, the voicemail from the hotel employee does not have the same friendliness and does not sound sincere. The employee does nothing to preserve the reputation of his company. Finally, the proposal to postpone the holiday and the reservation looks relatively thoughtless; at the same time, no discounts have been offered, and the manifestations of goodwill are not presented. However, this message has one definite plus – the bad news is presented clearly and clearly and does not raise questions.


However, there are several options for improving the delivered letters, according to the revision. The first of these involves the use of indirect and direct organization wherever it is needed. The landlord’s news is from the category of those with which nothing can be done, either accepted or moved from one place of residence to another. It is impossible to prepare for it in advance, or rather, the landlord did not take any measures for this. Therefore, this letter will have an indirect organization and should change its structure, where buffer and explanations should come forward. For a letter from an insurance company to be effective, it is needed to highlight the main idea of ​​the letter. Like a hotel employee’s voicemail – the bad news is unexpected and can lead to frustration and dissatisfaction with the client; therefore, buffer, apologies, explanations should be warned that can smooth out the negative impression of the news.

Another alternative is a more sincere writing style and more goodwill. This aspect is lacking in almost all letters presented in the case, except the response on a laser printer. Better use can preserve the reputation of the hotel, the insurance company, and help avoid customer shock, as was the case with Henry Lai. The professor is also severe and dissatisfied, but in a business letter, he should have avoided the manifestation of these emotions, despite the apparent guilt of the student. Honesty and kindness would help make these letters more effective in terms of perception, although in general, they would have little impact on the final decision of the recipients. Those people who cannot afford the new rent of the landlord will, in any case, move out of their place of residence; the only question is what impression they will have from this person.

Recommendations and Action Plan

Therefore, these e-mails are required to pass structure and organization checks, which will lead to better understanding and possibly impact the decision. In Henry Lai, who needs to improve his organization, he needs to self-discipline to avoid the consequences of such a wave of problems. If it will be put in order, and take into account all the errors and possible corrections of these letters, he needs to understand how vital the laser printer is to him and whether he is ready to make new expenses, taking into account the lack of insurance and the need to take a new number for his mother. Moreover, first of all, he must answer whether he will be able to pull a new rent and draw all conclusions based on it. Finally, having taken up time management, Henry Lai must stop being late for classes, complete all assignments on time, and not make Professor Anderson angry anymore.


Shwom, B. & Gueldenzoph, S.L. (2019). Business Communication: Polishing Your Professional Presence. Pearson.

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"Bad News: Case Study Henry Lai." PsychologyWriting, 29 Aug. 2022,


PsychologyWriting. (2022) 'Bad News: Case Study Henry Lai'. 29 August.


PsychologyWriting. 2022. "Bad News: Case Study Henry Lai." August 29, 2022.

1. PsychologyWriting. "Bad News: Case Study Henry Lai." August 29, 2022.


PsychologyWriting. "Bad News: Case Study Henry Lai." August 29, 2022.