Letters of apology are not so uncommon, as one may think at first. Everybody makes mistakes – minor or not so minor – that hurt other people’s feelings or simply cause them trouble. Even when one is very considerate, tactful, organized and so on, it happens that he or she forgets about an important meeting, or misses an event (for instance a birthday party), which makes somebody else unhappy or openly mad.
Well, it depends on what you have to apologize for but generally letters of apology are written in tone that regrets one’s error(s). There is a difference if you write a general letter of apology (for instance, if you are a manufacturer and some of your goods have proven to be faulty, thus threatening the health of millions of people) or a letter to a particular individual only (as in the example below). But in any case your regretful tone must be sincere because if you are writing a letter of apology only to avoid more trouble (for instance legal action, as in the example of the manufacturer of faulty goods), it is not likely that the trick will do. What is more, by writing an insincere letter of apology, you might make the other party even more angry because you are adding insult to the injury.
Another very important issue with apology letters is timing. If you have made a mistake, admit it as soon as possible and write the letter immediately. If you allow a lot of time to pass before you write a letter of apology because you for instance think that the other party might forgive you in the meantime, you are making one more mistake. A timely letter of apology can help to rectify the damage you have done.
If you are writing a formal letter of apology, keep in mind the rules about style and form that apply to all formal letters. A formal letter is a formal letter, so in your letter of apology do not include phrases like: “Please, forgive me!”, “Oh, how can I be so stupid/absent-minded/careless?” because they make your letter more suitable as the script of a soap opera rather than as a step to rebuilding trust. There are many not so tearful ways to express regret and to offer compensation for the damage you have done.
Sample Apology Letter
Ms. Mary Smith
73 Park Lane,
San Diego, California
June 30 2006
Mr. Jason Adams
Human Resources Manager
Nature Conservation Association
236 Marine Avenue,
San Diego, California
Dear Mr. Adams:
I would like to apologize for not coming to the scheduled job interview with the Nature Conservation Association on June 29 2006. I received your letter with the invitation for the interview only a day before the interview itself and I was unable to react at such a short notice. I called you office in the evening on June 28 2006 to inform you that I will not be able to attend the interview on the date it has been scheduled for but nobody answered the phone and there was no answering machine to leave a message.
I deeply regret that we could not meet and discuss the job possibilities with the Nature Conservation Association and I hope that a second interview could be scheduled soon. If I know three days in advance about the interview, I will be able to arrange my schedule. Also, if the interview is supposed to take two or more hours, please tell me in advance in order not to schedule another event immediately after it.
Once again, please accept my apologies for my failure to come to the interview on June 29 2006. I am looking forward to working with you and I hope that this unpleasant event will not have a negative impact on our future cooperation.