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Your introduction should identify a writing problem for me as the instructor and for your
classmates as new business writers and provide a brief overview of your proposed solution (e.g.
giving your presentation with specific information).
Problem & Significance
In the business field, there will be a number of situations in which knowing how to write a
successful proposal is crucial. Depending on the various circumstances, letters should be
tailored to fit the certain situation and audience, such as requesting an interview, asking for a
raise, or soliciting donations. The purpose of a request letter is to persuade readers to accept or
approve an appeal in your favor. In order to do so successfully, you need to be able to use
persuasive language to strengthen your request. In many cases, people appeal with emotions in
order to win an argument because it can be a very powerful technique to use in persuasion.
However, it becomes a problem once writers use emotional appeals as logical fallacies to
manipulate readers in request letters.
Logical fallacy is the “concept within argumentation that commonly leads to an error in
reasoning due to the deceptive nature of its presentation” (Bennett, 2017). Through logical
fallacies, writers attempt to manipulate emotional responses in place of a valid or compelling
argument. Emotions can include but are not limited to: guilt, pity, empathy and more.
Guilt makes people feel responsible for their own beliefs and action. To trigger guilt, writers
provide a story, allowing readers to put themselves in the shoes of others. Writers can elicit
sympathy by using emotional appeal and then requesting for an action.
“Power lines cause cancer. I met a little boy with cancer who lived just 20 miles from a
power line who looked into my eyes and said, in his weak voice, “Please do whatever
you can do that other kids won’t have to go through what I am going through.” I urge you
to vote for this bill to tear down all power lines and replace them with monkeys on
treadmills” (Bennett, 2017).
The details of the story can help readers understand and imagine the situation more vividly. As
writers are able to manipulate a story through empathy, they can easily make people feel guilty
for not helping out. Reading a story can also create a level of discomfort about the problem,
making people feel more obligated to take action. How the writer makes a reader feel about the
situation can ultimately determine how they respond to their emotional appeals.
Pity can also be used as a tool of manipulation. Using an appeal to pity becomes a distraction
to the audience as they become more focused on the writer’s irrelevant misfortunes than the
issue itself. The writer plays the role of the victim to gain sympathy and evoke compassion.
“I need a pay raise because I am a single parent, solely responsible for the financial
support of my children. If I don’t get paid more, my children may die from starvation.”
In the statement above, readers are focusing more on the reasons behind needing a raise
rather than the reasons why they deserve a raise. It is in human nature to be compassionate
and help others in need. It also becomes difficult to ignore those who we feel pity for. Pity can
be a blinding yet effective strategy writers use because it manipulates the emotions of readers
rather than the evidence, value, and correctness of the argument.
Fallacious reasoning blinds us from knowing about the truth. Being unable to think critically
makes us “vulnerable to manipulation by those skilled in the art of rhetoric” (Logical Fallacies,
2009). Using manipulation is morally wrong because all the emotions used are distorted and are
ultimately dishonest. It is important to be ethically conscious of your persuasion techniques and
to avoid using manipulation strategies to get a desired response. It is also crucial to understand
logical fallacies to help evaluate the credibility of any request letters. The next section provides
solutions to successfully write a request letter without the art of manipulation.
Benefits for Audience
By allowing us to give our presentation on unethical versus ethical request letters detailed above,
we believe our classmates will receive significant benefits. For instance, when requesting a raise
in the workplace, it is reported that only 44 percent of people who request a raise get the amount
they asked for, while 25 percent do not get a raise at all (Lam 2015). Additionally, only eight
percent of employees are satisfied with their salary, so it is highly likely our classmates will
write a request for a raise at some point, and by knowing how to write an ethical one they will be
more likely to succeed in getting their raise (Lam 2015). The next few paragraphs will explain
further benefits of knowing how to write an ethical request letter.
First, by knowing how to write an ethical request letter, our classmates will be able to maintain
relationships and create more networks. This is because if the request is written in a manner that
avoids being blunt or demanding, is honest and credible, and does not misuse information the
company that the request is intended for will be more willing to complete other requests in the
future. Therefore by writing ethical letters they will be able to either aid their company in
sustaining their current positive relationships, building stronger networks with other businesses,
or helping themselves grow their own individual networks that may assist them in finding future
jobs, internships, getting letters of recommendation, etc.
Second, knowing how to write an ethical request will allow the company or individual to better
achieve their goal or intended request given in the letter. This is because usually other people are
more willing to complete a request if the individual is asking in a kind, respectful tone and they
are being honest and upfront about the request rather than simply demanding something. Most
business professionals and companies as a whole are incredibly busy with numerous projects and
work everyday that they will be far less willing to take the time out of their packed schedules to
follow through on a request if the individual writing the letter is being unethical by not being
honest or using other tactics like guilting them into it. Especially, if the letter is a donation
request letter, it is important to be honest and straightforward about the request because only 10
percent of people in a survey viewed that charities do a “very good job” at spending money
appropriately (Rhode and Packel 2009). In addition, according to an online article, “academic
research has actually found that when people feel extreme negative emotion they go into a state
of withdrawal, and are therefore unlikely to take action and give money” and that “guilt does
not lead to long-term giving” (Hudson 2013). This means by using guilt as a strategy in
request letters, an individual is actually harming their chances of achieving their desired
goal. If our classmates work for a nonprofit or have to write a donation request letter on behalf
of their company, it would be very relevant for them to know how to write an ethical donation
letter that would make people want to donate and believe their money is truly going to a worthy
Finally, by writing unethical letters, our classmates could potentially put their company into legal
issues. For example, if someone puts inaccurate information, uses guilt or other emotions to
complete the request, harasses the individual or company receiving the letter, including
confidential information in the letter, or threatens to defame the company if they do not complete
the request, they may make the company liable to legal ramifications. For example, Goldman
Sachs was fined $50 million for not supervising an employee that used confidential information
(Yakowicz 2015). However, by knowing how to write a proper request letter our classmates can
avoid placing their company in danger of legal issues.
It is most likely that our classmates will need to write a request letter to either an individual or
another business on behalf of their company at some point in their career. Our report will benefit
our fellow classmates by educating them on what makes an ethical request letter so that they may
avoid all repercussions of creating an unethical one and achieve their intended goal of the letter.
As professional business writers, we will encounter a good amount of letters where we would be
requesting for an interview, asking for a raise, or soliciting for donations. Depending on the
situation, writers who are not ethically conscientious and courteous when creating these letters
will run into a few problems. Some writers could potentially face problems such as coming off
rude or entitled, or being demanding with their request. To avoid these problems, we
recommend that business writers take the time to follow these steps to write a letter that is
ethically conscientious and courteous when contacting business associates.
When creating a request letter, writers should focus on how their letter will be interpreted by the
recipient. Writers should understand who their audience is in order to display goodwill and
friendliness in their letter. We recommend that writers should avoid having a persona that
comes off as entitled or threatening. Instead, they should create a persona that displays
gratitude and proper logic to retain a desired response to the request. These recommendations
when writing a request are a few ways these problems can be avoided.
Writers who follow these steps will leave a better impression and receive a desired response
when contacting a business or associates for a favor. Following the recommended steps would
also allow for strengthening and creating business relationships. By allowing us to present this
issue to the class, they will gain some techniques that will allow them to create a successful
request letter.
If you would like set up a meeting to discuss our proposal or if you would like additional
information, please feel free to contact us. We look forward to hearing back from you.

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