How To Write An Apology Letter When Things Are Bad

Best used during cold war and when ego gets in the way to reconcile

By Kazuko Otsuka
How To Write An Apology Letter When Things Are Bad

Why Use An Apology Letter To Reconcile?

Cue in Daniel Powter’s hit song, “Bad Day.”  “Cause you had a bad day. You’re taking one down. You sing a sad song just to turn it around…” We’ve all had bad days, more than we can imagine for others. Maybe you woke up listless and unenergized, or perhaps you burnt your toast, stepped on dog poop, or maybe you had a severe fight with a friend, colleague, or loved one and don’t know what to do.

We’re here to help. Maybe not with the burnt toast or the dog poop, but with reconciling with the person you’re at odds with. It seems hard to fix relationships and connections that drifted or starting drift because of one person getting offended or hurt; it is hard, but only at the beginning. A way to open the door of communication is by writing an apology letter.

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An apology letter is a great way to fix the problem because if written correctly and sincerely, you can say everything you want to say without missing a beat. For a lot of humans, it is difficult to apologize in person. Many just won’t admit their mistakes or pretend they’re right to avoid apologizing. This is not a good way to live by, but, sadly, many of us live this way.

In the mind of most human beings, apologizing for means defeat. You immediately get defensive as soon as someone points out your wrongdoing. The thought of apologizing in person is not in the picture. That’s why it’s perfect to use an apology letter to reconcile. You can be sincere, offer solutions, and vow it won’t happen again in just one sheet of paper.

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The Most Important Thing To Cover In Your Letter

It goes without saying that to succeed in writing an apology letter, you have to write the words, “I’m sorry.” It should be “I’m sorry for…” not “I’m sorry, but…” Never try to deviate from the purpose of an apology letter. You aim to apologize for your wrongdoing or your team/business mistake and not to put the blame on them.

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The most important thing to cover in your letter is your own to the mistake. Admitting that you were in the wrong is the sole purpose of writing one, to begin with. After acknowledging you were wrong, you can then elaborate on the issue and offer concrete solutions on how you plan to fix the problem. For example, if this is an apology letter to a manager, your company fell short with, you can humbly say your company was wrong and understand the repercussions of your actions. Then, your company can offer new business plans better than the previous one that failed or the like. Never apologize and leave the receiver hanging.

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If this is an apology letter to a friend you had a big spat with, admit your mistake and tell them how you’ve changed or steps you plan to do to improve. Having concrete actions in the letter makes the letter sincere. Remember, you’re not trying to shift the blame to them, but you’re apologizing for hurting them. As long as you have this in mind, you’re ready to start writing an apology letter.

Ways To Write An Apology Letter

You’ve psyched yourself, and you feel you’re ready to write an apology letter. The person you’ve wronged is plastered on the back of your eyelids, and not a single ounce of rest has entered your body since the fight. “I’m ready,” you tell yourself. You get out a pen and paper or flip open your laptop and phone and hope for the best.

Minutes pass, yet the paper is still empty. Your hand hasn’t written down a single word for the last few minutes. The blinking of the cursor already matches your heartbeat. Blink. Blink. Blink. Luckily, there are different ways to kick start your apology letter.

Copy a really good template

The easiest and most straightforward method is by copying a really good template. (Let’s hope your friend or whoever is receiving the letter doesn’t put your message through a plagiarism check.) Here is a simple and straight-to-the-point template for an apology to a friend.

Dear {Friend Name},

Where do I even begin? I suppose saying “I’m sorry” is a start.

I’m sorry.

Looking back, I can’t believe that I {state offending action}. But I suppose hindsight is always 20/20. It was stupid and I wasn’t the friend that you expected me to be. Even if I explain my actions, it still doesn’t justify that I {said/did} some pretty hurtful things.

I hope you can forgive me for what I did and put this matter behind us. I treasure our friendship and all the things we’ve done and been through. And hopefully, what transpired can become one of those incidents that make our bond stronger than ever.

If you have anything on your mind regarding this, please feel free to share it. I promise to listen before I speak. It’s the least I could do if you’re willing to forgive me. You know how to contact me. I hope you do.

Your friend,

This template comes from a website called If you’re stuck on how to compose your letter, check out their page. They have a list of templates of specific apology letters to choose from.

Follow a template and edit

If copy-pasting templates is not your cup of tea, you can always copy and paste and then edit the template to make it sound more natural. Use the template to get an idea of the flow of the letter and then work the magic from there. This method is really helpful if you’re writing business apology letters to customers and managers. No one wants to make the mistake of sounding unprofessional, right?


Don’t want to copy a template? Don’t want to edit a template? Do you want everything to come from your heart? There’s always freestyle writing. The task might seem scary at first, but as soon as the words flow, you won’t be able to stop. What you can do to get that juices flowing is to envision yourself apologizing to your recipient. What do you hear yourself saying? What do you see yourself doing? Do you look sad? Are you sincere enough? Do your words carry meaning, or are they empty?


When you ask yourself these things, you soon should be able to get writing. Remember, it isn’t easy to begin the task, but it's easy to finish. Everything will be worth it in the end.

Related Article: 16 Tips To Write The Perfect Sweet And Heartfelt Love Letter
16 Tips To Write The Perfect Sweet And Heartfelt Love Letter

In the era of science and technology, the love letter has still held on to its position. If you want to know how to write a perfect letter then read on.


"Is it too late now to say sorry?" as sung by Bieber is your current theme song. No, it's not too late to say sorry. You were wrong, Bieber. All that's needed is an apology letter, a sincere one, to fix things. Remember to be honest and don't hold anything back in your apology. The people receiving the message probably don't expect the apology, to begin with, so why not end with a bang.  Good luck. You'll need it.


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