Using Buffer Statements

Using Buffer Statements

What is a buffer statement and how does it relate to business communication?

By Carl Stanford

Buffer the Bad

When a company needs to relay bad news – either in a letter or other business communication – a buffer statement is inserted at the beginning of the correspondence to cushion the impact or reduce the severity of the message.

The buffer method commonly used in reputation management or customer services, to ‘soften the blow’ when liaising with people within a business context.

Rather than apologize for the bad news about to be relayed, the buffer statement will prepare the reader for what’s coming, helping set the scene of the situation or explain some of the context behind the message.

No one loves the messenger who brings bad news Sophocles

Remember that bad news is always unwanted, so don't overdo it. The buffer statement will help bring your reader into a positive frame of mind, before delivering the bad news, but it's a very careful balance between buffering and misleading.

The buffer statement should always remain neutral, and never give the reader the impression the succeeding message will contain good news, when that clearly isn't the case.