As humans, we all make mistakes at some point in our personal and professional lives. While acknowledging and accepting the mistakes is easier, what most people falter with is to write an apology letter and seek a heartfelt, sincere apology in the most appropriate way. The reason behind this is the ingrained mindset that an apology means taking responsibility for the situations not necessarily caused by us.
Well, this mindset needs to be changed. A sincere apology letter, whether personal or professional, shows that we genuinely care and don’t shy away from taking responsibility. It should be treated as a positive approach towards building relationships, recognizing an error, and an attempt to fix things.
WHEN TO SEEK APOLOGY AND WRITE AN APOLOGY LETTER
The first and foremost step before writing an apology letter is to assess the situation with an unbiased perspective. It is essential to understand the setting and the extent of problem/damage done before seeking an apology. Apologizing for small things such as spilling tea mistakenly on someone’s desk or forgetting to call a relative on birthday does not require an apology letter. In such cases, simply apologizing with “I am sorry” in the moment is enough.
However, skipping an important business deadline, not turning up on time for an annual business meet or interview, or hurting a family member in the heat of the moment does require a sincere apology letter. Below are some of the situations that necessarily demands a written apology letter.
PERSONAL APOLOGY LETTERS
A personal letter of apology is generally written to anyone in our close circle to seek an apology for misunderstanding, unintentionally hurting someone, and to take the ownership of the mistake.
KEY POINTS TO CONSIDER WHILE WRITING A PERSONAL APOLOGY LETTER
- Always begin the apology letter by acknowledging the mistake and saying you’re sorry.
- Don’t shy away from admitting the mistake and take responsibility.
- Genuinely ask and offer to resolve or mend the situation in any way you can.
- Give the reassurance to the person you are apologizing that you will take every effort to prevent the reoccurrence of the situation.
- Close the apology letter by once again seeking the apology.
- Make sure to be sincere in your apology and write the letter in your own handwriting to add a personal touch to the apology letter.
FORMAL APOLOGY LETTERS
Writing a formal apology letter in a professional setting often gets tricky. It is important to seek a fine balance between over-apologizing and not apologizing at all in professional spaces.
IMPORTANT POINTS TO CONSIDER WHILE WRITING A FORMAL APOLOGY LETTER
- Be sure to type out the Apology Letter in a formal tone and a conventional writing font.
- Make sure to only use high-quality printing paper.
- Always begin a formal Apology letter by apologizing and sincerely accepting the mistake you’ve made.
- One of the important rules of writing a formal Apology letter is to clearly state the problem, why it happened, what went wrong, and what would you do differently next time.
- If you are making an apology for missing an important job interview, take complete ownership of your error and mention how you would avoid making this mistake in the future. Keep the tone of the formal apology letter sincerely apologetic, while expressing confidence that you are a good candidate for the role and politely request a suitable date & time for another interview.
- Close the letter by apologizing again.
- Restrain from making any excuses while writing a formal letter of apology and don’t delay making the apology at all.
BUSINESS APOLOGY LETTER
A business apology letter is usually written to the business clients during the circumstances when a business commitment, work or an assignment gets delayed due to any internal or technical problems.
A business apology letter carries a lot of importance in restoring the client's trust and to get the business relationship back on track.
IMPORTANT POINTS TO CONSIDER WHILE WRITING A BUSINESS APOLOGY LETTER
- Express your apology in the most professional tone that you could take to set things right.
- Acknowledge the mistake and reassure the client/ party that the same situation will not happen again in future.
- Stay away from making excuses to balance your rapport with the client/ business partner.
- Take the effort to reassure the client that you will keep in touch and take the necessary follow-up action.
- Close the letter by explicitly expressing your apology once again.
COMMON MISTAKES TO AVOID WHILE WRITING AN APOLOGY LETTER
- Do not delay the apology. Never make the mistake of delaying the apology as it can lead to negative feelings festering quickly. As soon as you realize your mistake make sure you apologize straight away. If it is a serious blunder or transgression, make a judgment call to let the situation cool down and apologize appropriately when the time is right.
- Avoid making excuses. Always remember that an apology does not mean making excuses for the wrong you did – whether intentionally or unintentionally.
- Ask for an apology in a straightforward manner and always speak in first person.
- Do not make the mistake of using language that would show that you are trying to make excuses – words like BUT or IF.
- Be sincere and keep the tone soft while writing your apology letter.
- Try to regain trust by showing that you’re willing to fix the problem. After mentioning that you’re sorry, take the time and effort to spell out that you’ll do what it takes to prevent this issue from happening again in the future. This will not only help you gain the trust of the other person but will also help to build the relationship in the long run.
- Don’t forget to follow up - one of the key points of seeking an apology is to follow through with your solution to the problem. If you are committing that you will work harder at responding faster, make sure to stick to it. Remember that promising something in an apology letter and not following through defeats the very purpose of the apology.