How to Write a Criticizing Letter

Two Methods:Sample LettersWriting Your Own Criticizing Letter

Have you ever wanted to vent your anger at someone who did something wrong? Writing a letter is a good way to clarify your thoughts and express yourself without losing your temper. You can be critical while keeping this polite and civil. See Step 1 to get started on your letter.

Sample Letters

Sample Critical Letter to Coworker

Sample Critical Letter to Classmate

Sample Critical Letter to Neighbor

Writing Your Own Criticizing Letter

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    Wait 24 hours. Unless this is time-critical, you will be better off waiting for the anger to fade away; you may have been wrong, not them. Waiting a day allows you to more easily look at the issue in a less biased perspective.
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    Start with a salutation (e.g. Dear Ms. Johnston).
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    Begin your letter by complimenting something that the recipient has done that has impressed you. This will make them feel better about themselves and will also soften the blow when you tell them what they did wrong.
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    Craft a clear, concise paragraph outlining what he or she did wrong. Try to maintain a neutral, factual tone.
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    Acknowledge, if appropriate, that the offence may have been inadvertent or that you might have misunderstood something.
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    Offer solutions to prevent this mistake from happening in the future.
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    State clearly the results you would like from this letter. List specific actions you would like, such as correcting a problem or error, apologizing, or repairing whatever damage you feel has been done.
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    As appropriate, offer your assistance, reiterate that you hope to continue working with the person, and that you appreciate the other things that he/she has done.
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    Summarize the letter and sign your name.


  • If this is a business letter, use a computer and format it accordingly.
  • Write about how you feel about it. The statement "You broke a promise" is more powerful than "I feel let down."
  • Berating a person may make you feel better, but a gentler, more diplomatic tone will produce better results.
  • Avoid using "you" too often. It can make the person feel that you are making personal attacks, and the recipient may be offended.
  • Try stating a few positive things about the experience, while still remaining consistent with your complaint. You are more likely to receive reimbursement when being polite.
  • Be confident in what you're saying and try to tell them the reasons you're dissatisfied, and how they can improve.


  • Do not send copies of this letter to colleagues or supervisors unless you feel that it is necessary or that the problem is more widespread. As when telling somebody that he has something stuck in his teeth, allow the recipient to make corrections discreetly, first.
  • This letter may not work for all situations. Sometimes it is better to meet with the recipient face-to-face.
  • Wait a day before sending the letter, especially if you were angry when you wrote it. Consider rewriting the letter or not sending it at all if it will only strain a relationship or make somebody angry, especially if you will work with the person again. Sometimes, just writing the letter is enough to get something off your chest.

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Categories: Letters