How To Write an Effective Apology Letter (With Examples)

By Indeed Editorial Team

Updated 25 June 2022

Published 25 June 2021

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

Apologising can be an important part of successful workplace communication. This particular type of conversation can be a sign that you care and are worth trusting. While apologising in person may be best, sometimes a written or formal apology letter is most preferred. In this article, we address the elements of a good apology letter, how to write one and examples of sincere and effective apology letters.

Related: Key Attributes of Professionalism in the Workplace

How to write an apology letter

Here are some steps you can follow to write a good apology letter.

1. State the intention of the letter

It's good to start by letting the intended persons know the letter is an apology note. This gives them a chance to focus as they try to understand your side of the story. You can write something like:

'Kindly accept this apology letter for my mistake.'

Related: Letter Format: Tips and Template

2. State your mistake and express remorse

Since you have acknowledged that you want to apologise, the next thing to do is state your mistake and express remorse. Be specific and concise to ensure the person knows you are sincerely sorry for your actions. For example, you might say:

'Jane, I'm sincerely sorry for the mistake I made with the client data. I was rushing and I didn't double-check my work.'

3. Acknowledge any harm caused

It is important to acknowledge that although you caused harm, it wasn't your intention. However, try not to confuse your intentions for an excuse. For example, you might say:

'Phillip told me that you had to work late on Friday to correct the mistakes I made. I'm very sorry about that.'

Related: Why it's important to treat people with respect at work

4. Take responsibility

The next step is to take full responsibility for your actions and try not to give an excuse for the mistake. Simply admit what you did was wrong and offer to remedy the situation. For example:

'I take full responsibility for my mistake with the client data and the time you had to spend to correct it.'

5. Make amends and offer a solution

Offering an apology is good, but consider offering a remedy to the situation to show your dedication to preventing the mistake from happening again. You can offer suggestions on how you plan to rectify your mistake and make up for your action. You can say something like:

'I realise that my actions caused you to work late and I want to make that up to you. If there's anything you need help with in the future, please don't hesitate to contact me and I'll make the time.'

6. Ask for forgiveness and provide assurance

The apology letter should conclude with a final apology and an assurance that you won't repeat the mistake again. Make a proposition to amend the relationship with the recipient and ask them to tell you anything you can do to make it right between you. You might finish up by saying something similar to:

'I sincerely apologise and hope we can continue to have a positive working relationship. It won't happen again.'

Tips for a good apology letter

Here are some tips to help you write a good apology letter.

Make realistic promises

You can show remorse and plan on not repeating the same mistake. However, don't make a promise if you're not sure that you can fulfil the promise. If you repeat the same mistake in the future, your next apology may not be accepted.

Be sincere

Be genuine and sincere about your apology. Avoid copying letters or using a template just to send an apology letter. Be sure to make it personal and show that you understand and are sorry for your mistake. To make it personal, let the recipient know that you're aware of your mistakes by explaining the situation in detail.

Watch your language

An apology letter is very sensitive. If the recipient can sense that you have excuses or are not genuine, they may not accept your apologies. Avoid saying things like 'I'm sorry if my action hurt you', or 'we all make mistakes.' Such remarks might be interpreted as unremorseful.

Related: 6 persuasive techniques to strengthen your writing

Be specific

Be specific and to the point with your apology. Avoid repeating the word sorry or overly focusing on the details of your mistake. This can evoke negative emotions in the recipient and distract them from the focus of your letter, the apology.

Avoid stating assumptions or expectations

Don't make assumptions about how the wronged party feels about your actions. Simply apologise and acknowledge that you hurt them. Assumptions may create further assault. Also, avoid stating your expectations, for it might seem to be rude or demanding.

Wait for a few days before sending it

As much as it might tempt you to write and send an apology letter immediately, it is a good idea to wait. That gives you time to read through the letter and provides the recipient with time to calm down. It also gives you the opportunity to find a solution to the problems you caused.

Sample apology letters

Here are some examples of effective apology letters:

Example 1: Personal Apology

Dear Phillip,

I'm very sorry.

I feel awful for speaking against your project ideas in today's meeting. I spoke without considering your feelings and time spent on the project. There's no doubt that what I said was selfish and unprofessional. I want you to know that I feel horrible about it, and I hope you understand it was not my intention to hurt you.

You spent many hours on that project, and I should not have given such negative comments in the meeting. I should have read through your work and analyse your point of view before discrediting it. I know that I should have had the courtesy to discuss my concerns privately or before the meeting. I'm disappointed in my lack of team support and professionalism, and now that I have had time to go through the presentation, I understand your ideas better and support them fully.

I'd like to follow up with all the people at the meeting and let them know that I was wrong to give negative comments about your project. I'd also like to let them know that I understand your ideas and hope they can support you and disregard my comments.

I assure you that I'll always discuss my concerns privately before taking them up with the management. I humbly and sincerely ask for your forgiveness and hope that my actions will not ruin or damage our relationship.

All the best,

Samuel

Example 2: Third-party apology letter

Dear Mr James,

On behalf of CBC Motors, please accept our sincere apologies for the terrible experience with our sales team. Our sales team should have attended to you immediately and offered you guidance on the vehicle accessories you needed. We understand that our delay and lack of good customer care were frustrating and inconvenient to you.

At CBC Motors, our goal is to meet our customers' expectations and serve them to the very best. We take absolute responsibility for our action and would like to send one of our sales team to your office to discuss what you need. Our branch manager will contact you to get your office location and a convenient time to visit.

We value your business, and we assure you that this mistake will not happen again. Nothing is as important as regaining your trust and fulfilling your needs. We'll assign you our best salesperson to help you with any orders you may have in the future.

Please feel free to contact me or any of our customer service team in case of any questions.

Sincerely,

Alexander Neel

Sales Manager

CBC Motors

Example 3: Group Apology

Dear ABC Connections customers,

We are sorry.

This week, we have been experiencing a network issue at our headquarters, which has affected the entire North West region. As our valued customers, we understand that we let you down and inconvenienced you.

The network issue resulted from issues with our main servers, but we are happy to inform you that the problem has been resolved. We're sorry for the frustration, anxiety and inconvenience we caused you. ABC Connections is a reliable company, founded with the promise of providing reliable network connection to our customers. We acknowledge that we failed to deliver our promises this week.

To ensure the issue does not reoccur, we have hired a team to look at the root cause of the network problems and prevent the same from occurring again. We appreciate your patience, and we hope that you accept our sincere apologies.

We hope to regain your trust and hope that you'll allow us to continue providing you with the ABC Connections experience we have provided throughout the years.

Sincerely,

James Arthur

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