Steps & Uses of an Inductive Outline for Messages

Instructor: Kat Kadian-Baumeyer

Kat has a Master of Science in Organizational Leadership and Management and teaches Business courses.

An inductive outline is generally used when bringing bad news. It begins with the reason for the news and then presents the main idea of the message. Then moves to closure with a positive statement and alternative options.

The Inductive Messages

So, as Hubert prepares to leave the office to begin his six-week vacation, his boss requests one last thing of him. Fire everyone in the sales department by close of business today!

Wow, that's a very daunting task. And it has to be done by the close of business? That doesn't give Hubert much time.

While firing everyone is never an easy task, it can be made easier if Hubert uses an inductive outline to draft the message. An inductive outline is drafted by first stating the reason for the news and then giving the news. By incorporating the outline into the message draft, an inductive message is the best way to lower the boom.

Inductive messages are generally used for bringing bad news. It works like this. The messenger first states the reason for the bad news and then conveys the bad news. This approach softens the blow a bit.

One might use an inductive message to:

  • Fire someone
  • Refuse credit
  • Deny services
  • Give negative feedback

There are a few reasons why it is done in this way.

The receiver may understand the reason better if it is presented before the news. And if the news is given first, the messenger risks the reason being lost.

How To Write An Inductive Outline

Now that we understand the purpose of the inductive outline, let's explore the steps involved in developing one using our termination example.

Step 1: Develop the reason for the news

Hubert can begin his outline by jotting down a solid reason for the news. Perhaps it is because lower sales levels influenced the decision.

Step 2: Present the facts

This is the time to pull out the sales reports, the order schedule and the financial reports.

Step 3: State the bad news using a positive tone

Hubert should draft the statement about the termination in a upbeat way

Step 4: Add a secondary statement that provides an alternate outcome

Now, Hubert can paint a silver lining by telling the terminated staffers that a re-hire may be possible if the economy changes.

Step 5: Turn the conversation in a relationship-building direction

Hubert can close the conversation by offering a letter of reference or a lead for a new job elsewhere.

So, let's put the message all together. It might go something like this:

Dear Sales Team,

The demand for fleece lined shower caps really took a turn this quarter. In fact, the trend is now moving toward unlined shower caps. The boss and I reviewed the sales reports over the past six months, and it seems not one shower cap has been sold.

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