Please Reject Me Nicely–10 Tips for Writing Rejection Letters

There’s nothing like getting an email “brush off” to make you consider how your own emails sound!

Earlier this week, I sent out an email to the presidents of several local Rotary Clubs, offering to speak (for free) at a meeting.  I’ve received several positive responses and have already booked a few dates.

However, my one and only “rejection” email rubbed me the wrong way.

Below I share:

  • The email offer I sent
  • The email rejection I received
  • 10 tips on writing a good rejection email/letter
  • How I would have written the rejection email
  • And, for people who are really curious, my response to the rejection email

The email I sent (offering to speak at local Rotary Clubs):

Dear (insert name of Rotary Club President),
I am contacting you regarding offering to speak at your Rotary Club this fall/winter.  I do a few free programs as part of my overall marketing plan.
I am a local author and speaker (I’m moving from Rogers to St. Paul in August) on communication topics.  My book, Small Talk Big Results: Chit Chat Your Way to Success! was published last year.
I have 2 talks that I would suggest for your club:
•        Beyond Bullet Points: Business Storytelling (short workshop)
•        Communication Tips from Tots:  What I Learned from My Children  (inspirational talk)
Whom should I contact about getting on the schedule for Sept-December, 2012?
I will touch base with you after Memorial Day, if I don’t hear from you.

Diane Windingland
(Followed by my contact information and website)

The rejection I received:


We allow individual clujb [sic] members to select who they would like to bring as a speaker. Usually they have someone they know very well identified months in advance. We typically do not book speakers that [sic] solicit our group.

10 tips on writing a good rejection email/letter (the above email had the first 3):

  1. Do respond to a sincere offer (nobody likes to be left hanging)
  2. Address the recipient by name—adds a personal touch
  3. Explain policy, if applicable
  4. Say “thank you” for time, effort, or interest
  5. Include an apologetic phrase (e.g. “I’m sorry I can’t accept your offer”)
  6. No typos, misspellings, or grammar mistakes (minor, but adds to the feeling of being “brushed off.”)
  7. Add supportive or kind words (like about the topic, experience, etc.)
  8. Include hope-inducing words (e.g. “there are many clubs that do accept speakers who solicit their club.”)
  9. Close with “Best wishes” (or even a basic “Sincerely”)
  10. Include your name, preferably with a title

How I might have written the rejection email:

Dear Diane,

Thank you for offering to speak at our Rotary Club!  Unfortunately, it is our club’s policy to typically have individual club members select who they would like to bring as a speaker.  Usually they have someone they know very well identified months in advance.  I’m sorry to turn down your generous offer; however I am sure many other clubs will jump at the chance to hear you speak.  The Business Storytelling topic sounds especially intriguing!

Best wishes in your speaking and your marketing efforts!
XYZ Rotary Club President

For people who are really curious, my actual response to the rejection email:

(President’s name),

Thanks for getting back with me.   That’s great that your members are so good about booking speakers. I know it is a challenge for some clubs, and I had noted at your club website that you do have some “TBA” speakers in upcoming months and nothing on your calendar after August, so I thought you might appreciate the offer.  However, I can understand the preference to have a speaker that is known personally to a member.

Best wishes to you as you transition out of your presidency.

Have a great Memorial Weekend!

Diane Windingland
(contact information and website)

Do you have any other tips on writing rejection letters?


About Diane Windingland
I speak for organizations that want their people to have better, more profitable conversations.

4 Responses to Please Reject Me Nicely–10 Tips for Writing Rejection Letters

  1. Hi Diane,

    Thank you for this post. Your rejection email is so much nicer! Are you going to share what Rotary so those that plan on contacting Rotary’s don’t get the same rejection? And was your sentence “Best wishes to you as you transition out of your presidency.” something you knew or know?? Monica

    • Monica–Thanks for your comments. I don’t want to share on this public forum which club it is, but I will share privately!

      Also, new officers start their term on July 1, so that’s how I knew that the President’s term is almost up.


  2. There is a great promise of performance and scalability

  3. sex says:

    I appreciate, cause I discovered just what I was having a look for.

    You’ve ended my 4 day long hunt! God Bless you man.
    Have a great day. Bye

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