How To Write A Personal Letter of Apology

What You Say When You Want To Apologize And Make Up With Someone
by Gene Griessman, Ph.D.

One of the hardest letters you will ever write is a letter of personal apology. Maybe you lost your temper, or you over-reacted, or took offense, or said something stupid.  Maybe you did something that was hurtful.  Maybe the other party hurt you, disprespected you.

One reason it’s difficult to write these kinds of messages is you. Your pride. Your fear of rejection. Your wanting to be in the right.  Your need to be respected.

Making up is hard to do.  So you may struggle and procrastinate. The trick is just to make yourself write it, and send it.

What’s the worst thing that could happen? The other party could ignore your letter, or say No.  So what? You’re not speaking now anyway.

And if your message is carefully composed, and the other party doesn’t respond positively, you will feel better about yourself for having tried. That’s the worst that can happen.  And the letter just might work.

To  make it easier for you, here is a sample letter of apology that you can adapt to your own situation.

Dear (name),

I’ve found myself thinking about you a lot lately. It’s a real shame that we haven’t spoken in a long time, and I’d like to do whatever I can to make amends.

Neither of us is likely to change all that much. I know that.  But I do hope we can resume our friendship. We’ve had too many terrific experiences for too long to let this harm our relationship.

I want to offer you my sincere apology. What more can I do to make this right?

I miss seeing you and talking with you. What do you say we get together for (lunch, dinner, a cup of coffee or tea, drinks) within the next few days?

I will call you soon.

Your friend,

Three tips.

One. Don’t take the blame for anything specific if upon reflection you do not feel you did anything blameworthy. Simply say “I apologize” or “Please accept my sincere apology,” and do not elaborate.

Two. Use the million-dollar question:  What can I do to make this right?

Three.  Keep it short.  Don’t go into great detail or rehash the situation.

Now, compose your letter, and–that’s right–send it.

P.S.  Dating advice: thinks this sample letter will work well if you want to make up with a boyfriend or girlfriend. One reason it works well for these kinds of relationships is two-fold.  It reveals that you have been thinking about the other person; and, it positions you as a reasonable, sympathetic individual.

Gene Griessman is an internationally known professional speaker, actor, and consultant. His video “Lincoln on Communication” is owned by thousands of corporations, libraries, and government organizations. He has spoken at conventions all over the world. To learn more about his presentations, contact us at 404-435-2225 or [email protected] Learn more about Gene Griessman at and

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Gene Griessman is an internationally known keynote speaker, actor, and communication strategist. His book “TheWords Lincoln Lived By” is in its 23rd printing and “Time Tactics of Very Successful People” is in its 43rd printing. His training video “Lincoln on Communication” is owned by thousands of corporations, libraries, and government organizations. He has spoken at conventions and annual meetings all over the world. To learn more about his presentations, call 404-435-2225. Learn more at Atlanta Speakers Bureau or at his website. His latest book “Lincoln and Obama” has just been released by Audible.
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