Just how do you let people down gently, when they have made a phone or email approach or suggestion which is unwelcome or inappropriate?

How do you let someone down gently?

I call a lot of people and occasionally I get a hostile response and I have even encountered someone hanging up the phone in my ear, but although this is unusual I have always noted it in my call diary.

I was reminded of this by a recent situation when I attended a business lunch and the guest speaker posed a Government problem they were having, which was costing them a lot of money, anguish and time. I thought I had an approach which I assumed was different from what they were doing and tried to catch up with the speaker before she left, but I missed her.

I had met her before and she had even attended a meeting in my office in the past so I assumed she would know who I am, so I sent her an email saying that I thought I had an idea that could point them in a different direction and said I would call to outline the idea and if it was OK attend a meeting to discuss.

Instead of a friendly reply, I received a pompous email from their head of Corporate Communications informing me about the PR companies they employed and what a great job everyone was doing.

I was annoyed by this email which rather than gently letting me down and thanking me for thinking of them but they really had it covered, the reply annoyed me and put me completely offside.

This was really rather silly as I am well and truly in their market and as a result of the presentation was well disposed towards their product and regarded myself as a potential client. But not now.

So how do you gently let down callers or contacts, without causing long term bruising? I would welcome your suggestions or examples?

-Dennis Rutzou