Creative LMent

I believe that creativity is a powerful skill that can be practiced and developed. I hope my blog inspires you to find your very own "creative lment". ~LM

How to Write a Personal Apology

Some mistakes warrant a written apology, and while it may be difficult, a personal note putting thoughts to paper is therapeutic for both you and the offended person. While the commercial card market is flooded with nicely worded apology cards, nothing is more meaningful that a personal sentiment. A better choice would be to select a blank notecard, offering up plenty of space to scribe your thoughts.  Putting pen to paper provides you with an intimate opportunity to think sincerely about what you want to say. And because a note card has limited space, you only need just a few select sentences.  Handwritten notes work best in situations where the relationship is personal or familiar in nature, and when the infraction is relatively minor. Here are some suggestions to help you get started:

  1. Write the note soon after the incident. However, if you are feeling overly emotional and need time to reflect, give yourself a night’s sleep. Limit yourself to just a few well written sentences – using words that are simple and clear.
  2. Be sincere and respectful. Offer your apology in the first sentence: “Please accept my apology for…”. Be accountable for your mistake and take responsibly. Avoid using the word “but” at all costs since it is contradictory in nature.
  3. Rather than dwelling on the details of the issue or situation, focus on the solution. What will you change to avoid it from happening again?
  4. Acknowledge the impact that the incident may have had on the offended person (“I realize this hurt your feelings”/”put you in a tough situation”).
  5. State how important the person is to you and what their relationship means.  Indicate that you would love to get together soon so that you can talk about things in person.

Give the person time. The severity of the mistake will determine the period of time needed to accept your apology. If they do not respond within a reasonable period, send them a second short note or email. Ask how they are and indicate that you would love to get together for an in person chat; wish them well in the mean time.

Here are a few examples to help get your started:

  • Dear Jane, I want to offer my apology for forgetting to pick you up at the airport. I did not carefully check my calendar, and by the time I realized my error, it was too late (an oversight I will work hard to avoid in the future). I realize that this put you in a difficult situation and I regret not being there for you. Your friendship is very important to me and I hope that you can forgive me.
  • Dear Tim, I am so sorry for breaking your vase at the party yesterday. I was having such a great time and did not pay enough attention to what was around me. I understand that this item was especially important to you. I feel so badly. Even though it cannot be replaced, I hope you will accept the enclosed cheque, and again, my sincerest apology.
  • Dear Ann, My deepest apology for not writing you over the past year. My time has been consumed with work and family ~ I did not realize so much time had flown by! I cherish our relationship so deeply and hope that my absence has not hurt you in any way. From now on, I promise to make time and write more.

If you do not hear from the person, continue in your commitment to addressing the mistake and accept that you have done what you can to repair the situation. Wait for the person to come around on their own, but understand that this cannot be forced. Remember here that the intended outcome is to mend both the relationship and your own feelings concerning the situation. If you are committed and sincere in repairing the situation and have made the appropriate effort, then you have done what you can. Dwelling on your mistakes will not give you peace, nor is it good for your self-esteem. Instead, give yourself a reasonable amount of time to mourn your error – and then forgive yourself. Remember, you draw into life what you focus on! ~LM

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