Rejection letters aren't easy for any of us.
That’s a missed opportunity (and rude). Though painful, rejection has benefits: it both increases the quality of the ideas they’re being offered and increases the engagement of the host.
Writing a Basic letter
Rejection letters need not be long, and the reason you give for the rejection need not be super-detailed. The entire letter might be just a few lines.
1. Say thanks.
2. Deliver the news.
3. Give the main reason.
4. Offer hope.
Thanks for your patience while I reviewed this proposal. I’m afraid I’m going to have to pass. We’ve published a lot on cybersecurity lately, and unfortunately the proposed piece overlaps a bit too much with other articles we’ve published. I hope you find a good home for it in another publication.
All the best,
Thanks for making the time to talk with me last week. While I enjoyed our conversation, I think we need someone with more hands-on project management experience for this role. I hope you find the right job for you in the near future.
Thanks for your detailed proposal. Taking a look at the materials, it seems like your firm’s key strengths don’t quite overlap with what we need for this project. Thanks again for taking the time to put this proposal together for us.
Writing a Rejection Letter
When You Disagree with the Decision
If you’re the one issuing a rejection, own the rejection. It’s fair to say something like, “After a lot of discussion and back-and-forth, we’ve decided X” or “It was a really hard decision, but we’ve ultimately decided Y.” But say “we,” not “they.”
A rejection letter in which you’re hiding behind someone else’s skirt inhibits your ability to give useful feedback. It also makes your organization look fractious or contentious, which undermines other people’s desire to work with you in the future.