Apologizing is hard and admitting our mistakes feels so uncomfortable. Still, we all fail from time to time, so it’s important to master the art of saying sorry. A well-crafted apology letter goes a long way of proving your professionalism and fixing what has been broken. At the same time, not apologizing at all or blurting out a cowardly non-apology apology can just make things worse.
How to write an apology letter
- Apologize sincerely – Start your email by simply saying you’re sorry, not “I’m sorry but…” A recipient should feel that you really mean it. Writing “I’m sorry that you took my words so emotionally” just shifts blame on the wronged person and makes them feel even worse. Instead, admit your mistake and say, “I’m sorry for saying such offensive things. It was totally unacceptable from my side.”
- Own your mistake – Taking responsibility for your actions is hard, but that’s a trait of a real professional.
- Explain the situation – Describe what has gone wrong. Be honest and sincere and avoid the temptation to go defensive or make excuses. Keep the explanation part brief and to the point.
- Suggest a solution – Besides hearing you’re sorry, the other party – be it your client, boss, or colleague – wants the situation to be fixed. Let them know how you are planning to achieve this. You can also describe the steps you take to ensure that the mistake won’t happen again.
Apology letter templates
We’ve prepared some examples to illustrate what a business apology letter should look like. Feel free to use them for reference, but keep in mind that a good apology email should be personalized and crafted specifically for each recipient.
1. Apology letter to a customer
Dear [Customer name],
Please accept my sincerest apologies for the negative experience you had with our courier, Jason.
I can fully understand your frustration when Jason delivered the wrong meal in a damaged package and refused to give your money back. His behavior was totally unacceptable.
At [Company name], our goal is to make sure you can always get the best meals from the city’s top restaurants in the fastest and most convenient way. We do our best to train our couriers, so you can always receive the best customer service. As Jason’s supervisor, I take full responsibility for his actions. Jason has already received the feedback about his behavior and will have an additional training.
I’ve made a full refund for your order, and your funds should be with you shortly. I’ve also included a promo code with a 30% discount for your next order if you decide to give us another chance.
[Your full name]
2. Apology letter to a boss
Please accept my apology for being late for the morning meeting with a client. I realize I’ve caused a lot of inconveniences for the client and put you into an embarrassing situation. It was totally unprofessional from my side.
This situation has taught me a lot. The next time, I will leave the house 30 minutes earlier to make sure I come on time, despite the heavy traffic.
I have already followed up with the client, shared all the required documents, and apologized for being late.
I am truly sorry and I want to assure you that this won’t happen again.
3. Apology letter to a colleague
I want to apologize for my bad behavior at the today’s meeting. It was disrespectful to interrupt you during your speech, and I realize that what I said was offensive. I have no excuses for my behavior.
Let me assure you that this won’t happen again. I’m working hard on my self-restraint and good manners.
I am truly sorry. Please feel free to contact me if you’d like to continue this conversation.
4. Apology letter for a mistake
Thank you for contacting us about the mistake with your order [Number]. Please accept our apology for sending you the wrong size of the sneakers. I can fully understand your frustration.
This mistake has happened due to the technical error in our system which affected nearly 20% of the orders, including your one. Our team has already fixed this issue, and we will conduct an additional investigation to make sure it won’t happen again.
We have already sent you the new pair of sneakers with the correct size. Your order should arrive in 1-2 days. We have also included a 25% discount coupon for your next purchase in our shop to compensate for the inconvenience caused.
Please feel free to contact us if you have any questions or concerns. We will be happy to help!
[Your company name]
5. Mass apology email
We’re sorry to inform you that our [Event name] has been canceled following the coronavirus outbreak in the country. This was a hard decision, but the safety of our guests and speakers is our top priority.
Our team is planning to reschedule the conference for a later date this year, and we’ll get in touch once there is news to share. Meanwhile, we’ve refunded the total cost of your conference ticket. Please allow 3-5 business days for the amount to appear on your card.
We hope to see you later this year!
[Your company name]
Now, you know how to apologize in an email and have some examples for inspiration. Let’s summarize the main principles of writing a good apology letter. Be sincere and avoid using non-apology apologies, take responsibility for your mistake, explain what happened and why, and suggest a plan to fix everything. And most importantly, remember that it’s OK to make mistakes, but it’s not OK not to learn from them.