Writing a Complaint Letter (Reader Presupposition & Perspective Taking)
This is one of my favorite activities because it so clearly illuminates for students the importance of keeping your reader in mind, and more specifically, of thinking about how your wording gives your reader a specific impression of you! It combines writing skills and social skills, since writing with a request of another person requires taking the perspective of your reader in order to effectively get that person to fulfill your request. These worksheets include an actual complaint letter, requesting monetary compensation, which was emailed to a hotel chain, along with extensive therapy notes describing how to conduct the activity, and two new situations from which students can write their own letters. When reviewing the letter with students, we discuss how specific phrases, sentences, and semantic content serve to give the reader an impression of the writer as two targeted attributes: honest and reasonable. Students are then given a situation requiring compensation and must write their own complaint letters, all the while keeping in mind their reader’s perspective in order to choose content and wording which will best attain their compensation goal.