If you own your own business or work in one, sooner or later you'll have to write an email of rejection. Whether it's to turn down an unrequested suggestion/offer somebody has made to you or to inform somebody that something they have submitted to you (e.g. a bid for a contract, an improved offer, a manuscript for a book etc...) has not been successful, it's normal to inform them about the news by email.
This can be difficult to do. Most people (myself included) feel disappointed or even angry when they are turned down for something. And it's important to remember this when you have to write a business email or letter of rejection to somebody. If you don't, you can make an already bad situation worse.
When you write an email business email or letter of rejection, it needs to be:
- Direct but polite
- Give a good reason(s) why they have been rejected
If necessary, you can also offer them the opportunity to talk with you about your decision. I would do this if you think you may work or do some business with them in the future.
In this online exercise on 'writing business emails', you will find two examples of good business rejection emails. Using these, we will look at both the structure of a good rejection email and professional English phrases that you should use in it.
Example & Exercise: Emails of rejection
Read the following two emails of rejection. In the first email, a company is turning down an unrequested/unsolicited offer they have received to buy photocopiers. In the second email, a company is informing another company that they have been unsuccessful in a bid for a contract.
From the context, try to guess what the meaning of the words/phrases in bold are. Then do the quiz at the end to check if you are right.
Dear Mr Boxall,
Thank you for your enquiry about supplying our company with new photocopying equipment.
Unfortunately, we are currently not in need of replacing our existing photocopiers. We recently entered a new 2 year contract with our existing photocopier provider.
You would be more than welcome to contact us again when our current contract is up for renewal.
Dear Mrs Robinson,
Thank you for submitting a bid for the re-design of our website. After careful consideration of all the proposals we received for the contract, I regret to inform you that on this occasion your bid has been unsuccessful. We have decided to offer the contract to one of the other bidders.
Although your proposal was very professional and well-thought out, we felt that the design didn't focus enough on the social media channels our company uses and it was a little over complicated and confusing to use.
We will be more than happy to consider you for any web development or redesign projects we have in the future.
If you require any further feedback, please do not hesitate to contact me by email on firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone on 01535 6547196.
Now do the QUIZ below to make sure you know how to write this type of email.
Click to see more email/letter exercises & examples
Quiz: How to write a business email of rejection
Below is a definition/description of each of the words/phrases in bold from the above text. Now choose the word/phrase from the question's selection box which you believe answers each question. Only use one word/phrase once. Click on the "Check Answers" button at the bottom of the quiz to check your answers.
When the answer is correct, this icon will appear next to the answer. Click on it to find extra information about the word/phrase (e.g. when, where and how to use etc...).
Now that you understand the vocabulary, practice it by writing your own email of rejection in English with the new words/phrases.