The title piqued my interest because I've had to do my fair share of apologizing since I love to learn things the hard way. I enjoyed the post, but I.
Here is a classic P.G. Wodehouse quote that so illustrates this misplaced focus of posturing to forge relationships: “It is a good rule in life never to apologize. The right sort of people do not want apologies, and the wrong sort take a mean advantage of them.”
In business writing, this is not true!
We often feel that an apology means we are taking responsibility for situations not caused by us. No! A good apology means we care. It shows we are responsible. It proves we value people and can be trusted.
I just learned from Tom that the rescheduling of our annual meeting affected your vacation plans. We have four new products launching next year, and these will be presented at the meeting. I’m sure the scheduling was a disappointment for you, but I know the information will be very useful for you, and we need your expertise in the field next year.
I am sorry the reconstruction requires your department to share printing and copying resources for the next two months. It will cause delays for you during construction, so please accommodate this in your planning. Once the construction is complete, we’ll have 40% capacity increase, so the inconvenience is well worth it.
I am sorry I missed your meeting this morning. I know I was scheduled to provide the staffing costs of your proposal, and I’m sorry I let you down.
As I mentioned when I called, my babysitter was ill and could not work, and my husband is out of town. I had to wait until my sister could arrive to babysit before I could leave for work.
I have emailed my staffing cost analysis to everyone in the meeting and explained my absence and how this data supports your proposal. If there is anything else I can do to make up for my absence at your proposal, please let me know.
Please accept my apology.
We all want to avoid unpleasant situations, but sending a note or email indicates you take the liability seriously, and are truly sorry. It conveys a sincerity that a simple phone call does not.
I am sorry I overreacted yesterday to the news of my project team’s restructuring. I apologize for making inappropriate assumptions about your decision.
I realize since we talked that I depend on Caroline’s participation, and don’t want to lose her enthusiasm and expertise on my team. You are correct that she is ready for larger company projects.
I regret my comments, and you have my promise to support the team restructure fully. Please accept my apology.
I’ve heard executives say they never want to document any errors in writing, but I disagree. Instead, this documents Kara’s realization and apology, in addition to enhancing her business relationship with Ashok.
Tip: note that letter format is different than memo format.
In many business writing courses, I hear from clients they worry an apology intimates they are weak or error-prone. Don’t fall into this insincere power-broking writing formula. Good business communication fosters connection and relationships, not a false power dance.
Words are powerful, and a thoughtful, honest, un-obsequious apology respects both you and the recipient. It will always enhance your career.
Sample apology letters with must-know tips, easy steps, sample phrases and sentences. Write your apology letter today.
Dear Valued Customer,
This letter is regarding the [complaint/claim/letter] you [sent/submitted] on [some date]. Before even attempting to explain the reasons leading to this unintended mistake, I would like to sincerely apologize to you for any inconvenience this may have caused.
At [company name], customer satisfaction is something that we take very seriously and would never compromise under any circumstances. Unfortunately, sometimes unavoidable mistakes happen. In such rare cases, a satisfactory solution is always in place and preventable measures are introduced.
After a thorough review of your case, I have managed to pinpoint the reasons leading to this error. [Explain in two or three sentences why the error happened. Don’t make it long. The client is not really interested in the reasons, only in the resolution. But you should explain for the sake of completeness]. This is clearly a mistake from our side and we take full responsibility for it.
In our attempt to serve you better and retain you as one of our valuable customers, we are going to [state your resolution to the mistake: refund your money, give another item for free, provide you with one year subscription, etc…]. I hope you find these actions satisfactory and up to your expectations. This is the least that we can do to address the unintentional inconveniences that we caused.
As an extra measure to our unconditional commitment to customer satisfaction, we decided to [state measures and precautions that your company will take to prevent such errors in the future]. These precautions will ensure that such errors will not happen again in the future. This would not have been possible without you drawing our attention to your case. We take this opportunity to thank you for your feedback which allows us to serve you and other customers better.
We value your business and hope to retain you as a customer for many years to come.
Please always share your feedback with us; this is how we keep learning and improving. I am very confident that the next [letter / email] we receive from you will be that of appreciation.
Sample Apology LettersForming Your ApologyApologizing CorrectlyFormatting Your LetterShow 1 more...Show less...Article SummaryQuestions & AnswersRelated Articles
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While apologizing in person often conveys more sincerity, there are times when a formal, written apology might be your only option or could otherwise be the preferred method. To write an apology letter, you'll need to address your error early in the letter, acknowledge the other party's hurt feelings, and accept full responsibility for your part in the matter. In many cases, you'll also need to offer a solution that will fix any underlying issues related to the original problem. If you want to make sure that your apology is effective and doesn't cause even more hurt, aim for both clarity and sincerity while you write.
Part 1Forming Your Apology
Part 2Apologizing Correctly
Don't promise change unless you are 100% sure you can deliver. This is very important. If you made a mistake that you feel you are likely to repeat or that stems from inherent differences in personality or values, you do not want to promise them that you will change. This is because you will likely make the mistake again and future apologies, for anything really, will ring hollow.
Be sincere and genuine. When you apologize, you need to be sincere and genuine about it. If you can't be, in some cases it might be better to wait until you really are sorry before apologizing. When you write your letter, skip the form language and cliches. Don't just copy some letter that you find on the internet. You want what you say to be specific to your situation so that the person you're apologizing to knows that you really understand what happened and why it was bad.
Keep expectations and assumptions out of your letter. You don't want your letter to sound demanding, rude, or create further insult. You don't want to try to or appear to try to guilt someone into forgiveness. You don't want to make assumptions about how they feel or why they're upset, because you might end up showing how little you understand about what happened. With all of the language you use, it's better to take a tone that is humble and leaves them feeling in control of the situation. This sort of language is most likely to help them forgive you.
Wait a day or two before mailing it. If possible, wait a few days before sending your letter. You want to be able to read it when you're a little more emotionally removed from what you wrote.
Part 3Formatting Your Letter
Choose the best way to start the letter. With an apology, you'll want to start your letter with the usual "Dear,....." It is better not to get flowery with your language at the start of the letter and to keep the salutation as basic as possible.
End your letter gracefully. If you don't know how else to end your letter, default to the basic "Sincerely..." However, you can also get a little more creative if you want to keep the letter sounding less like a basic letter. Try phrases like "I sincerely thank you for hearing me out" or "Again, I deeply apologize for the problems my actions caused, and I hope I can work to make it right."
Should I decorate the letter or keep it simple?
You should keep it simple and professional. You don't want it to look like a joke or like you are not taking the apology seriously.
How do I apologize for something that is being overreacted?
Different people react to things in different ways; what to you may seem an overreaction is very real to that person. Apologize sincerely and offer to make amends.
I am required to write an apology letter for something I never did. What should I do?
Acknowledge how the other person feels. Be empathetic and sincere in acknowledging their pain, fear or disappointment. If the letter is being forced by the courts or mediation, then both parties know that it is not "genuine" as it is not spontaneous. However, by letting the other party know that you at least understand how they feel, you may help heal the rift. If the powers that be demand that you accept responsibility for something you truly didn't do, then you have a more difficult situation. You can stand on your principles and refuse but there may be consequences.
How can I write a patient to doctor apology letter? I was awful to my doctor and I want to say sorry.
Dear Dr [last name here] I'm writing to apologize for the way I acted towards you at my last appointment. I fully regret the words I said and should not have told how to do your job, I take full responsibility for everything that happened and hope we can move past this incident. Yours Sincerely... [Your signature here)
How can I write an apology letter for having food in a dorm?
If it is to the staff, write a letter stating why you brought food in, and that you will respect the dorm and not do it again. If it is to a roommate, it is best to apologize in person.
How can I figure out why I did something bad?
If someone is upset with you, tell them this: "It seems as if I hurt your feelings without realizing it. It was never my intention to hurt you, so could you please tell me what I did so I can learn from my mistake? I am not quite sure where I went wrong."
How should I give this letter to my friend? Is there a correct way?
You could mail it to them, which could make it feel more sincere and give them a chance to think it over and accept the apology before seeing you. You could also say, "I just wanted to give you this letter" and give it to them the next time you see them, as long as it's not an inconvenient time (e.g., they're out and about and have nowhere to put it).
How do I write a letter required by the police if I am not sorry?
Try to sound as sincere as possible. Try looking at your crime through the victim's perspective.
How do I apologize to the government for using a false name?
Just be straight forward. Admit your at fault, apologize, tell them it was a silly idea to use a false name and that you now realize you could have been more mature.
How do I write an apology letter for not picking up my friend at the airport?
Say sorry, explaining briefly why you did not show up. Explain how you will ensure it doesn't ever happen again. Ask for forgiveness.
Ask a Question
Sample apology letters with must-know tips, easy steps, sample phrases and sentences. Write your apology letter today.
Having trouble figuring out how to write an apology letter? It's a common problem. It's not something we do often and we're never sure how or where to start.
Below you'll find tips on format, guidelines, samples and an apology template so that you can craft your own apology letter—but remember—the most important element for ANY apology is that it comes from the heart and that it's sincere.
→ THE CONTENT: This is the actual apology. What to say and how to say it. We cover what to include in our template and sample letters below.
→ FORMAT, STYLE & DELIVERY: These are the elements that surround the apology and play a role in how effective a written apology can be.
To make it easier, we've narrowed things down to 4 main components for you to use as your template. These are the critical concepts that need to be included in the content of an apology, and easily integrated into a letter.
1. Apologize and provide a detailed account of what happened. It's important that the recipient knows that you clearly understand what went on, and where you went wrong.
You can easily do both in the opening of the letter. For example,
2. Acknowledge the hurt or damage done and take responsibility. You need to be able to show the person you're apologizing to, that you can see things from their point of view, can place yourself in their shoes, and take responsibility for your words and actions.
This becomes the main body of the letter.
3. Express regret and ask for forgiveness. You need to let them know how much you regret your actions and by asking for forgiveness you give them the power of deciding on the future of your relationship.
4. In the closing of the letter, make a promise that it won't happen again. Without promising AND changing your future behavior there's no point in apologizing. Finally, if appropriate offer some form of restitution and ask if there's anything else you can do to make things right again.
1. Open your letter by apologizing, saying you're sorry and describing what happened.
2. In the main body of the letter let the person know that you understand the hurt you caused and how much you regret it.
3. Ask for forgiveness, let them know how you plan on fixing things and promise that it won't happen again. Let them know that the relationship is important to you and ask if there is anything you can do to make things up to them.
The hardest part of writing an apology letter is often just getting started. We showed you a sample opening above, but it may not be a good fit for your situation. With that in mind, we're including a few more examples of openings from some of the best apology letters submitted by our website visitors.
Hopefully these examples will help jump-start your own apology letter.
I'm truly sorry for mistrusting you. I don't know how to express my sincere apologies for the pain caused and the tears shed because of me.
To the love of my life... Please accept this heartfelt apology. If I had the ability to turn back time and take back everything that happened I would do it in a flash and never think that what we have, and had, could never be taken away by my selfish acts or my demeanor.
I know no amount words could express how truly sorry I am and how much regret I feel. I do not know how I could have been so foolish and for so long. I was blind and let my ego and pride get the best of me.
I'm truly sorry. I know you probably hate me right now and I don't blame you. I still have not forgiven myself and I don't think I ever will for acting how I did the last time we spoke.
Dear Kim...I've been really worried about writing. I know you’ve asked me not to. I will always respect your wishes. But for my sanity please let me apologize without my emotions doing all the talking this time.
Get more detailed information on the content of an apology letter in our article on how to say sorry.
After apologizing, a strong desire to make amends is what you want to leave in the recipient's mind.
This includes letting them know that you care about them and your relationship, that you're trying to fix things, and that you're open to any ideas they may have to remedy the situation.
Here are some samples and suggestions for what to include prior to the final closing.
Please know that I have done everything I can think of to make sure this never happens again. I deeply regret it happened at all. You are very important to me and I am willing to do whatever it takes to correct things. If there is anything I can do to regain your trust, please let me know. I am truly sorry and humbly ask for your forgiveness...
I promise you that it won't happen again. It's important to me that I regain your trust and we're able to rely on each other in the future as we always have in the past. If there is anything else that I can do, just let me know...
I'm embarrassed by both my actions and words. I can't take back those words or pretend the whole incident never happened. It happened. So, if there is anything I can do to make you feel better, please let me know. I cherish our relationship and friendship more than you can imagine and am devastated at the thought of losing either. I promise you that I will never act or speak in that way ever again, you are too important to me...
Standard letter closings like 'Yours Truly' can be easily applied to apology letters. However, we like 'Sincerely' or 'Yours Sincerely' when it comes to apologies in general because they help reinforce the message.
'Respectfully' and 'Yours Respectfully' are particularly good for when we've been disrespectful or apologizing to an authority figure be it parent, teacher, boss etc.
✔ Do... Write clearly and accurately. Be honest and show true sincerity.
✔ Do... Let them know that you understand why they are hurt and angry.
✔ Do... Make sure your apology letter describes why and how much the person was injured by your actions. Saying 'I know you were hurt' is not the same as saying 'I know how insulted and angry you were because of...'.
✔ Do... Request forgiveness but don't expect or demand it.
✔ Do... Let them know that you appreciate the role they play in your life and why the apology is so important—whether or not they accept it.
X Don't... Use qualifiers like 'if' or 'but' anywhere in your apology. 'I'm sorry if I hurt you' and 'I apologize but I was in a bad mood that day' sounds like you're making excuses or trying to justify things.
X Don't... Try to evoke sympathy as part of your apology.
X Don't... Share blame, take full responsibility.
Our apology letter FAQs are designed to help eliminate some of the barriers we all face when we sit down and write out an apology.
One of the primary obstacles is often a reluctance to admit that we're to blame for the situation. To state clearly and unequivocally that it was our fault.
And, by putting pen to paper and writing the words 'I was wrong. I'm sorry and I apologize', gives it a sense of permanence and causes us to feel vulnerable.
It's that vulnerability that is the most scary for many of us. So much is at stake when it comes to our relationships. Our minds begin to reel.
An apology letter gives you time to think about what you're writing and gives the recipient time to think about your apology before responding.
On the other hand, verbal apologies require you to think on your feet, be prepared for the recipient's reaction (negative or positive) and ready for the conversation that follows.
Many people are surprised to hear that 'I apologize' and 'I'm sorry' don't mean the same thing and are not directly interchangeable. Writing 'I'm sorry' expresses a level of regret or remorse. It says to the recipient that you feel badly about what happened—that is has affected you emotionally.
'I apologize' is simply a statement of admission. You're admitting that you were at fault but you are NOT stating that you are sorry about it.
In most cases we recommend including both statements in an apology letter.
Open your letter by apologizing. Say you're sorry and describe what happened. In the main body of the letter communicate your understanding of the hurt you caused and your regret. Ask for forgiveness, express a desire to fix the situation and promise that it won't happen. Finally, explain why the relationship is important to you.
Read our article on how to write an apology letter for more detailed instructions, a template letter, Dos & Don'ts, and more...
There are many things to take into account when looking at how to format an apology letter. The predominant considerations are length and style.
In most cases, when all the elements of a sincere apology are included, the severity of the offence you're apologizing for will naturally determine its length.
In terms of style, handwritten apologies are best for personal and intimate relationships. Typewritten, emailed and more formal approaches are best suited for business and non-personal relationships (e.g. teacher, club member, shop owner etc.).
Learn more about apology letter formats.
Write from the heart. Being honest and sincere are critical to an effective apology. Use direct statements that can only be taken at face value.... I'm sorry... I was wrong... I apologize.
Be as specific as you can about the mistake, and as clear as you can about your responsibility. Describe why and how much the person was injured by your words or actions. Saying 'I know you were hurt' is not as effective as saying 'I know how furious and insulted you were by ...'
Make amends through actions and not just words and ask for forgiveness but don't demand or expect it.
Read through our complete list of DOs for Apologizing.
Never use qualifiers in your apology letter. Words like if and but always comes off like you're trying to justify your actions. I'm sorry but.... If only...
Don't try to evoke sympathy and avoid expanding on the apology by linking it to ANY other issues in your relationship. Finally, don't share the blame with others or demand a response.
Email has evolved over time and has become an acceptable form of communication. Emailing an apology letter is perfectly fine however you still need to consider the recipient and the relationship. For example, an elderly person will rightly respond differently to your apology if it's handwritten on a card as opposed to receiving it via email. Even someone younger reacts differently to something they can hold in their hand as opposed to reading something on screen. So be mindful of who the recipient is and take that into consideration. Don't email your apology only because it's easier.
As we state above, the length of your apology letter will be determined by the how badly you messed up and the situation. As long as the guidelines of what to include in a proper apology are met, the length of your apology will determine itself.
There are only a handful of ways to deliver an apology letter. Priority Mail should be used when the transgression is serious and time is of the essence, especially in business.
Regular mail is always appropriate and email is fine if that's the way you normally communicate with the recipient.
Finally, don't forget that an apology letter can also be hand delivered. This is particularly appropriate for close personal relationships. It allows you the time to make sure that you include in writing everything you have to say while being able to say how sorry you are face-to-face.
Sincerity comes from being honest, specific and direct while providing a detailed account of the entire situation.
This means that you acknowledge the hurt and damage you caused clearly and objectively, and take full responsibility. You apologize for your actions and NOT how they made the recipient feel. You then express your regret, ask for forgiveness, promise it won't happen again and provide a way to make amends without making excuses.
When people ask us how to write an apology letter we always respond in the same way. Writing an apology letter is easy when you know what to include, what you need to say and how to say it—basically everything we've covered on this page.
But it doesn't quite end there. You also need to consider the elements that surround your apology, like theformat of your letter.
The format and style of your letter, when applied correctly along with the ingredients of a perfect apology, will help show your sincerity and achieve your goal of forgiveness.
Sample apology letters with must-know tips, easy steps, sample phrases and sentences. Write your apology letter today.