Writing an apology? Follow the KISS rule: Keep it short and sincere

Your mea culpa should not be the hypothetical, ‘If you were offended…’ Instead, own up to your miscue and express your contrition, and be quick about it.

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How to write an apology

It shouldn’t be difficult to say I’m sorry.

Yet as with so many occasions for professional communicators, the temptation rises to fill the page. Thus apologies are easy to screw up.

Your objective is to show that you’re sorry for any injury you’ve caused.

Whether this restores some balance of cosmic justice is beyond this writer’s powers of observation. As a practical matter, the purpose is to begin to restore credibility, character, good will and civil comity. More immediately, it is to stanch negativity flowing the offender’s way and clear the way to get back to work.

The most common apology isn’t an apology at all: I regret if anyone took offense at my remarks.

Willie Sutton regretted getting caught robbing banks, but that didn’t mean he was sorry. The “I regret…” path leaves a little wiggle room for not being sorry at all, and many people see it as the wink that it is.

Instead, try this: Every apology should be unambiguous.

If you’re sorry, say it.

If you’re not sorry, don’t say it halfway. Defend yourself.

If you’re not sorry but you’ve decided to say you are anyway, at least put your heart in it.

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