An email explaining an incident

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

Instructions

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

Reading text

To: steve@red-ribbon.com
From: sanjit@red-ribbon.com
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.

Regards,

Sanjit

Tips

  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.

Discussion

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Submitted by Johnhwang on Sat, 12/11/2022 - 17:32

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Hi Sarah,

I hope you are well. As the guardian of your child Clara, I am writing to tell you about an incident that happened last night. After experiencing some difficulties with the laundry machine, tensions arouse and a confrontation occurred between Clara and Beth, my daughter.

I have outlined what led to the conflict below;
1. There was a system malfunction on my laundry machine which have used for more than 15 years.
2. The two had some clothes to be cleansed for the next school day. Upon Clara coming back from school, she operated the machine. Everything was good at that moment. However, Beth came back from her school an hour later, she found that the machine didn't work at all.
3. Beth thought that Clara intentionally broke the machine to make trouble for her. Even though I explained that it must be caused by the age of the machine, she seemed not to accept my explanation at all.
4. As a result of these challenging circumstances there was some tension, leading to a disagreement between Clara and Beth. Finally, Beth lost her temper and made inappropriate remarks to Clara.

I have tried to resolve this conflict wholeheartedly by making a training session for the two in order to improve communication and alleviate the tension between them, but I realize that it is beyond my capability. In spite of my consecutive advice, Beth has had neither a willingness to apologize to Clara for her behavior nor a will to change her mind towards your daughter Clara. I have no choice but to start disciplinary proceedings in light of the future of my daughter. I will send my daughter Beth to your house tomorrow. Please teach her how to fix a broken laundry machine properly. I believe this is the only way the conflict would be resolved smoothly.

There are many actions for you to take though, I hope Beth will get good skills under a professional artisan like you.

I know that you may be busy but I felt it important that I am kept in the roop. Please keep me posted.

With warmest regards,
John

Submitted by Rita25 on Tue, 01/11/2022 - 01:24

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Not at all, I don't have any occasion to write such email since I don't work in a corporate business. But I have encountered conflicts in school setting that I needed to write an email to my professor.

Dear Mr. Jones,

I'm writing to tell about the challenges we are experiencing at the moment, Last week our class was assigned to organized an Intramural Sports Competition in light of the University 50th Anniversary. After deliberating for the preparation, Few member of the faculty have a heated discussion.
Since you are in charge to oversee the planning for the event. We'd like to ask your suggestion on how to solve this issue.

I've outline preparations that have been done,

* Announcement Flyers are posted in every school department bulletin board.
* 30 Promising athletes has been registered for the competition.
However We're in short of 20 athletes, As to how to encourage more participant for the event, We would like to ask for your suggestions.
* The Sports Stadium has been booked on November 2-4

Take acount that the participants and students involved for this event preparation are also preparing for their Final Exam.
As a results of this challenging time, tensions between students department are seems to be getting out of hand.

Please help us settle this issue so we can reach a common ground and make this event successful.

Kind Regards,
Grace

Submitted by lemmi on Sat, 08/10/2022 - 01:28

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Yes, to my PE teacher back in when I was G7. This annoying girl in my group won't do any work, and I have to finish all the work for her. This caused our group to get a low mark, so I sent an email to the teacher explaining the situation.
There are always conflicts happening when people are working together because each holds their own opinions.

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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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

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No. I hadn't. No, I doesn't.
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Submitted by Magedelabd on Mon, 04/05/2020 - 20:52

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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 .