Ways to offer a genuine apology
- with an example apology letter

Part 1, Part 2

Now that you've read my three step plan (in Part 1) to help you plan your apology, let's look at the different ways you might think about saying sorry. I have included a sample apology letter further down...

Oh, by the way, I spell apologise with an 's' - it's a British thing, but of course if you write in American English, you'll want to spell it with a 'z'.

How to apologise: written apology or personal appearance?

There is a place for both, so let's look at this in more detail together. I really want you to be as successful as you can be in improving your relationship, reputation and self-respect.

"Sorry" by text

Forget it! The only time you can use a text message is if you need to say sorry in advance for arriving later than expected!

Saying sorry by email

Consider apologising in this way only if you don't know the other party personally. For example if there's been a minor misunderstanding with a supplier. 

Offering an apology by card or letter

Yep - apology letters are potentially a reasonable way to say sorry. (I'll sometimes advise a client to write a letter to their partner, especially if they're unlikely to be given a chance to say their piece face-to-face.)

It is even more attentive if you accompany your letter with a bouquet of flowers or other thoughtful little gift. Don't worry about the meaning of flowers (though don't send red roses), think about what the recipient would really like.

Writing a letter is also a good idea if, for example, you want to make a public apology to a group of people.

Let your words incubate for a couple of days, reread your letter or card several times, and imagine the receiver in different moods: angry, sad or happy. Before you send or give a letter, let a trusted person read it first to eliminate any blind spots and prevent unintended consequences as much as possible.

Below is a sample letter of apology. Do be careful to only use my sample words as a guide, and adapt the sentences to your needs and your own style. It's essential that your letter sounds genuine, and not like something you've copied! Try to strike a balance between showing that you've worked really hard to get it right and not overusing words you're unfamiliar with.

To help you find the right words for how you feel, have a look at my list of emotions and feelings.

Sample apology letter

USA postal stamp

Dear ...

I am writing to express my sincere / sincerest apologies for my insensitive actions / behaviour / words / disregard / blunder / my failure to...

I very quickly realised / On reflection I realise that I was very wrong to assume / lash out / ignore / find fault with / accuse / blame...

AND/OR

I realise that my behaviour / oversight / omission was totally inappropriate, inexcusable and disrespectful.

I can only imagine the hurt / distress / embarrassment / awkwardness I have caused to... and the damage that it has done to our relationship / your reputation / your chances of... / your trust in me (be careful not to talk about yourself here!).

I hope that you will allow me the opportunity to express my apology again in person.

AND/OR

I would appreciate the opportunity to put right my wrongs and prove to you that I have learned from my mistake.

I will of course accept that I may have caused irreparable damage and may no longer be...

OR

I appreciate I may no longer... / I understand if you need some more time before...

Yours sincerely,

Expressing your remorse by telephone

This is only suitable if you live too far away to offer an apology in person within a reasonable time of the mistake.

Need further help with apologising?

If you are going to deliver your apology face-to-face, I can help. Have a look at my related articles below for further advice on how to apologise.

You can also get good advice from a relationship expert - right on my site.

Related articles

How to deal with criticism
How to stop arguing
How to deal with rejection

Images courtesy of: BK, NASA