Useful Tips

How to express a refusal to participate in an event in a business letter


Have you ever been invited to a dinner that you absolutely did not want to go to? Has it ever happened that a friend called you to some event that you would definitely have ignored in any other case? If you have had such situations, then you yourself know how difficult it is to decline a proposal. Of course, accepting an invitation is a good way to develop relations further (at the cost of getting out of your comfort zone), but sometimes refusal becomes the only real solution for those who are too busy or do not want to go for personal reasons.

Difficulties in writing rejection letters

The easiest way to formulate a polite refusal is if you are not interested in maintaining business relations with the addressee. In this case, it is enough to adhere to a business tone and rely on the basic rules for writing rejection letters. If you had to "correspond" with mass mailing, then the task is simplified even more: most likely, your reply letter will not even be read.

But in some cases, writing a business letter turns into a careful selection of words that allow expressing maximum regret in the framework of business vocabulary. These include the following situations:

  • You are in correspondence with a potential partner, but you have to refuse for an objective reason. You need to express a refusal, transferring at the same time interest in the early start of cooperation. Since from the outside, these messages may seem mutually exclusive, it is difficult to choose the correct wording.
  • You correspond with a regular partner and do not want to make an adverse impression. You plan to continue cooperation, but you know that your participation in the event would be important for the partner. You need to formulate a refusal so as to convey this understanding, thereby indicating interest in the business success of a partner. At the same time, your reasons should sound convincing enough.
  • You correspond with the “living” addressee and know that your letter will be carefully read. You have no objective reasons for refusing to participate, but there is no reason to agree. At the same time, you want to keep the location of your correspondent.
  • You correspond with an influential player in your business niche or a representative of a popular publication. You are forced to refuse, but do not want to spoil your reputation.

Each of these situations is potentially dangerous for your success. But a neatly written business letter about refusing to participate in the event will help to honestly warn about your position, without exacerbating the current situation. You may not strengthen your relationship with your partner this way - but you will not ruin them. Failures are normal practice in the business world. The sooner you learn to present them correctly, the better.

How to issue a letter of refusal?

Details of any business letter with an official refusal correspond to the usual details for a business letter of a company. If you send a letter by mail or fax, be sure to adhere to the following rules:

  • Write the answer only on the organization letterhead.
  • Make sure that the refusal is certified by either the CEO or a person with the appropriate authority.
  • Be sure to register the refusal so that it has official force.

If you send a disclaimer by e-mail, then the header is of great importance. It allows you to make a first impression of the letter, and in many respects sets the mood for reading. If you are sure that your answer will be read, and plan further business relations with the addressee, then try to avoid negative wording in the heading. It is likely that your correspondent will not have the desire to open a letter with the headline of the form "Refusal to participate in the event", so it is better to use a more neutral option. For example: “About the event”, “About participation in the seminar” and so on.

Content of disclaimer

In order to politely express a refusal to participate in an event in a business letter, it is necessary to observe all the rules of business etiquette. Be sure to start by contacting, while focusing on the data specified in the invitation. If you know the name and patronymic of the correspondent, then you can use the greeting of the form:

Dear Nikolay Nikolaevich!

It also happens that only the surname and initials of the sender are known. In this case, it is worthwhile to confine ourselves to the surname and the business address adopted in Russia (Mr., Mrs.):

Dear Mr. Nikolaev!

Initials should not be used: it not only looks sloppy, but also impolite. If the message was sent on behalf of the company and nothing is known about the addressee, then the universal “general” address “Dear Sirs!” Is used. This is enough to express respect in the absence of other data.

Even if you reply to an e-mail, take care to notify the sender of the exact order sent to. You can fill out this data in two ways: either make a link to the request in a separate requisite under the number and date of the letter (usually such details are present in general official forms), or provide this data at the beginning of the appeal. If you have chosen the second method, then the letter should begin with the following lines:

In response to your letter of 02/01/2017 No. 341 we inform you that ...

It is advisable not to report the refusal “head-on”, especially if you entered the details of the letter in the details. The first lines must have a positive content. You can express gratitude for the invitation sent and note the unique opportunities that were provided to you by the addressee. You can also start the letter with a polite regret that the invitation, despite the fact that it was desired, will have to be rejected for objective reasons. To facilitate the task, you can make a list of “universal” phrases, which in the future can be adjusted to suit the situation:

Thank you for the extremely interesting offer, but unfortunately ...

We greatly appreciate your invitation and look forward to further cooperation ...

Thank you for the opportunity to participate in ...

Unfortunately, we do not have the opportunity to participate in the event in connection with ...

Indication of interest in a partnership is a must. Even if you do not plan to have any business relations with a correspondent, express a desire to strengthen business relations. This is the basic rule of business etiquette: everyone who sent you an invitation letter is worthy of your attention. Failure is a daily occurrence, and does not count for insult. But non-observance of elementary rules of politeness can significantly damage your reputation, especially if you answer all business correspondents in this way.

Show interest at every step. If additional files were attached to the invitation, note that you have read them:

We have examined in detail the proposal you submitted ...

We carefully examined the submitted documents ...

Only after all positive messages, including gratitude for the interest shown, are expressed, can we proceed to the reason for the refusal. It must be indicated without fail: it shows your interest in the event that you are refusing, and allows you to once again show respect to the correspondent.

After following all the formalities, you need to finish on the next positive message. Mention that you will look forward to further cooperation (new events, opportunities, etc.). So once again you “sweeten” the pill of failure and convey the desire to maintain business relations.