When you do or say something you regret, you can rectify it, and perhaps even make things better than they were before, by sending a meaningful letter of apology. The offence may be personal or business, and might involve hurt feelings, being late, poor service or bad behaviour. Reasons to be sorry vary, but good apology letters have one thing in common: sincerity.
- Skill level:
- Moderately Challenging
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- Gift token
Write the letter as soon as you can. The longer the delay, the more insincere your letter will seem.
Write the letter by hand if the offence is personal. Avoid e-mail or a typewritten letter unless the offence was a business one.
Write a few drafts to make sure there are no grammar or typing mistakes. Use high-quality note paper. Send the personal apology by mail.
State precisely what the offence was. Don't make excuses for your action. Don't blame someone else. State how you will make restitution if possible. State how you will rectify the situation so that the recipient will begin to regain confidence in you.
Consider a gift token or a replacement product if the offence was a business or professional one.
Use direct and simple language. Don't couch your apology in fancy words and phrases. Take responsibility for what you did. If you are sorry, say so. For example, if you are apologising to a friend for speaking out of turn, you could say, "I chose the wrong words. I should have thought before I spoke, and I am sorry I didn't." For a professional letter you could say, "I am sorry I lost my composure during the meeting. In future meetings, you can expect me to be more professional and less emotional."
Arrange to meet soon so that you can reinforce your sincerity and apologise again in person.
Tips and warnings
- Your own words are best, but books and websites offer sample letters for a variety of offences. Resist sending a card bought at a store. Avoid being too wordy. In a business apology, the language should be more professional and less emotional.
- Avoid using the word "you" during an apology as it could make the recipient feel defensive again. For example, "You misunderstood what I meant" could reignite the argument.
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