The 5-Step Method to Write Difficult Letters With Grace and Ease

Follow the SCRAP method and you’ll never cringe again when it’s time to write that tough letter


Tealfeed Guest Blog

3 years ago | 3 min read

We all have to write difficult letters from time to time.

It’s not easy.

You have to confront difficult issues while facing a person who is angry, upset, and ready to explode, or worse, ready to sue you.

You need street-smarts and charm without giving the store away.

You have to stand your ground while disarming the opposition by the power of your words.

That’s the bad news.

The good news is that there is a time-proven method that can help you win the challenge.

You don't have to sweat and bite your nails anymore.

You don't need to procrastinate and postpone the uncomfortable task to a tomorrow that never comes.

You can do it now, with authority, and mark it off your to-do list within minutes.

The Method

It’s called the SCRAP Method of writing a difficult letter, which consists of the following five sections:

  1. Situation [S] — You start by acknowledging the situation without denying the other person’s claim. That would disarm your recipient and drop the temperature of the standoff right away.
  2. Complication [C] — This is where you present your case, your reasons why the situation cannot be resolved solely on the terms demanded by the recipient. You have to explain why the situation is a bit more complicated than what the other person assumes.
  3. Resolution [R] — You explain how the situation can be resolved in a way that would be a win for both parties. This is the section where your goodwill and nature should shine through.
  4. Action [A] — It’s time to tell the other person what needs to be done. If you do not spell out what you expect the other person to do, the stalemate will never be resolved. Specific, concrete and measurable action is an important component of conflict resolution.
  5. Politeness [P] — You always conclude sincerely and politely, to communicate once again that you are a person of goodwill who is really trying to resolve the complaint and open a new clean page in the relationship.
  6. SUBJECT LINE — Chances are your letter will be an email in this day and age. So the subject line is also important. Go for the obvious and repeat your main offer, your “peace deal,” in your subject line.


  1. Situation [S]
    Dear Ms. Smith, thank you for hiring us to paint the first floor of your home at 123 Main Street, Anytown, USA. The job was completed on Feb 12 after which we received your voice message about painting your second floor at the same price.
  2. Complication [C]
    We would love to continue to be in your service, but during the six months since we painted your first floor, our paint and labor costs have unfortunately increased by 70%. That’s why we will not be able to paint your second floor at the old price of $1,100. However, we’d like to offer you our new 10-year peel-off and fade-out guarantee. Please visit our new web site Blah-Blah-Dot-Com for our new signature paint line, which features exciting Perma-Shine colors not carried by any other vendor on the west coast.
  3. Resolution [R]
    Since you are an existing customer, we’d be happy to paint your second floor with any Perma-Shine color of your choice not at the new retail price of $2,300 but at only $1,800, with a special $500 discount. We are also pleased to inform you that we can schedule your job within the next week, on a day most convenient for you.
  4. Action [A]
    If you’d like to take advantage of this offer, please call our scheduling department at 555–555–5555 and mention your personal discount code “500-OFF” right away. No deposit is required if you reserve your appointment within 48 hours after receiving this message.
  5. Politeness [P]
    We appreciate this opportunity to serve you once again. Please let us know if we can be of further assistance to you. Sincerely.
  6. SUBJECT LINE: “$500 Discount on Your Next Paint Job”
This article was originally published by Ugur akinci on medium.


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