An email explaining an incident

Learn how to write an email to explain an incident to your manager.

Do the preparation task first. Then read the text and tips and do the exercises.

Reading text

Subject: Process issues in the team


Dear Steve,

Since you requested in our recent line management meeting for me to inform you of any issues, I'm writing to tell you about a recent incident. Last week, after experiencing some difficulties with the order processing system, tensions arose in the team and a confrontation occurred between two team members.

I've outlined what led to this incident below:

1. There was a system update that we weren't expecting last week. The update slightly changed the interface menu. Everything is still there but people have said it's not easy to find some of the menu items they're looking for.

2. There seems to have been a period of time after the update that new entries weren't being saved. This led to some work being lost. We worked overtime to catch up on everything and all orders have been processed. But as a consequence there was a general feeling of pressure and tiredness in the team.

As a result of these challenging circumstances there was some tension, leading to a disagreement between Johann and Maria. Johann lost his temper and made some inappropriate remarks to Maria.

I met with them both in order to reflect on and resolve the conflict. Johann has apologised for his behaviour and he realises that Maria could have chosen to start disciplinary proceedings. They have worked together on a plan to improve communication and therefore alleviate tensions within the team.

I've also asked our colleagues in the IT department to run a training session for us all on how to best use the system in light of the recent software upgrades.

There's no specific action for you to take, but I felt it important that you're kept in the loop.

I'll keep you posted.




  1. Write clearly and get straight to the issue.
  2. Soften the impact of bad news by using words like issue, challenge and difficulty rather than problem. Using seems to be rather than is also has the same effect.
  3. Use positive words with a negation, e.g. not easy, rather than negative-sounding words, e.g. difficult.
  4. Focus on the issue rather than people involved by using passive forms, e.g. ... new entries weren't being saved.
  5. Focus on solutions rather than problems.
  6. State clearly what action, if any, is necessary.
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Worksheet73.31 KB

Language level

C1 English level (advanced)
Profile picture for user Hennadii

Submitted by Hennadii on Sat, 11/12/2021 - 12:40


We are all different so sometimes we can face a disagreement or a little (sometimes more than little) tension in our teams. Especially, when people are tired or something bad happened in the work process.
I think this is not so bad as it feels when it occurs. Everyone needs sometimes to blow steam. I'm not talking now about toxic people who always behave inappropriately but about of occasional moment when you just can't control your actions.
How to write a letter about that? Well, first of all, you need to fully calm down. Try to look at a bad situation a kind of outside, like all this happened with someone else, some strangers.
Another good point, before to start writing a letter, try to look at it like you aren't a sender but a receiver. Try to read your email like as you didn't know about the situation before and now you are trying to get a full picture from the message. This could help you avoid to be misunderstanding.
Of course, it would be great to use, how to say, the soft words instead of tough ones - they often mean the same but could help you to make situation less difficult to solve.

Submitted by Ehsan on Tue, 07/09/2021 - 06:44

I have never had such an experience before that I have to write an email to someone.

Submitted by Marti on Fri, 20/11/2020 - 09:20

Not at all. I am not in a position that I have to face this kind of circumstances. Actually, as a journalist, I am used to send emails asking for information or news, whether good or bad. In this case, anyway, sometimes it can be hard to explain them, but it's associated to our job and we can't avoid it.

Submitted by Ugulhan on Sun, 11/10/2020 - 10:21

I think that at the workplace if it would have happened, firstly the employees should agree with each other, and then the Team leader could be met to resolve the issue. I don't know whether Sanjeet is right in this circumstance. It seems to make a plot between both employees. I would like to say that I don't like to write like this email to someone. If someone has become some disagreement with their employees, then they have to try to arrange the things with each other.

Submitted by Ramazan Altınışık on Tue, 29/09/2020 - 14:36

I've never have to write like this e-mail before but now I have not so job experiences before. Personally, there will be no bad things when we report an incident in job because difficulties and challenges may grow and cause bigger problems if we don't report anyone. We have to use softly communication and inform someone about challenges.
Profile picture for user OlaIELTS

Submitted by OlaIELTS on Wed, 20/05/2020 - 16:50

No. I hadn't. No, I doesn't.
Profile picture for user Magedelabd

Submitted by Magedelabd on Mon, 04/05/2020 - 20:52

As I am amanager sometimes I face a big problems and I have to report them to my higher management and I face difficulties to transfer the facts but in a good way .

Submitted by hrahmani on Mon, 10/02/2020 - 16:47

I have written such emails to inform the responsible person about an issue. Although such events have been not been frequent but have happened a few times since I started my professional career. Given the level of interactions between employees and the probability of possible misunderstandings, one has hard time to avoid such problems. However, the ability of managing such circumstances, in the best possible way, would be considered as a sort of skill for an employee.

Submitted by Zeon on Thu, 16/01/2020 - 19:20

Not frequently but it happens that I need to write similar emails.