If someone offends you, the natural thing for them to do is apologize. Sometimes the offender does it either intentionally or unintentionally. And in a work setting where everything has to be professional, they may apologize via email. And this begs the question, how do you respond to an apology email?
Responding to an apology can be a daunting task. This is mainly because emotions are involved, and anything that has to do with emotions is known to cause mental and emotional strains.
That said, in business or in an organization, you cannot afford to let your emotions get the best of you. This is why responding to an apology in this setting is a tad different than in others.
In this article, we’re going to discuss everything that goes into responding to an apology and also include some samples of the best ways to respond to an apology.
How to Respond to an Apology Email: Apology Acceptance
Receiving an apology email tells us that the sender understands their fault and they value the relationship more than their ego and pride. It could also mean that the offender does not feel any of the above and they’re simply apologizing because it’s what they’ve been told to do.
In a business or an organization, responding to apologies and working towards making amends is vital as mistakes and ill feelings are detrimental and can set an organization back.
It is expected that professionalism is maintained at all times this is why when responding to an apology via email, you follow the necessary email etiquette.
When accepting an apology, you simply cannot say, “It’s okay”, especially for an apology that was sent via email. If the offender apologizes to you in person, saying “It’s okay,” is an acceptable response. But in a professional setting, there should be more to an apology than that.
Mistakes can be made by anyone. Hence, an apology email can come from literally anybody. Can be from a superior officer, your boss, your teammates, etc.
READ MORE: How to Apologize to a Customer via Email
Here are the steps involved in replying to an apology email:
Acknowledge the apology
Apologizing in general is not an easy feat. This is why you need to acknowledge and appreciate the courage and effort the person put into apologizing.
Also, it is a generally accepted rule to acknowledge the apology as it conveys professionality and sends the message that there are no ill feelings between you and the offender.
Here are some ways to acknowledge an apology email:
“Thank you for taking the time to apologize.”
“I appreciate your apology.”
“Thank you for apologizing.”
Move Past the Offense
After acknowledging the apology, the next stage is to move past the issue.
In this section of the email, reassure the recipient that you’re ready to move past the issue. Doing this puts the offender's mind at ease knowing you’ve forgiven them.
Here are some ways to translate this in your email:
“Thank you for your apology. I wish the event hadn’t occurred, but regardless, it’s okay.”
“I wish we didn’t have to go through all that, but I’m glad it’s all in the past.”
“We can move past the issue now, that’s water under the bridge.”
Translate the Desire for Progress and Avenues for Improvement
When responding to an apology email, it is generally okay to assume that the ball is in your court. This means you’re in a good position to reprimand the offender and “set them straight”. If you’re going to do this, it should be done with respect. After all, they’re apologizing because they know they’ve erred. No need to belabor the fact.
If possible and applicable in the context, suggest a solution. This way there’s little chance of the incident repeating itself in the future. Also, understand the issue at hand and ensure that the offender is solely responsible.
An example of this would be:
“We’re expected to maintain a certain standard, and this falls short of expectations.”
Sometimes, in a professional setting, an “offender” may feel the to apologize, not because they’re at fault, but because the offense came from their department. So, they assume responsibility.
In this case, here’s an example of the response:
“I understand that it was beyond your control and the fault is not yours, but I believe we can optimize for better performance.“
Own Up to Your Faults if There Are Any
An email responding to an apology is a great place to admit to your fault as well. During the course of the offense, if you said anything negative or fruity, this is the best place to also apologize for it.
Also, if you’re partially to blame for the problem, you should also own up to your faults and apologize for them as well.
End the Email on a Positive Note
After translating your desire for progress and improvement, you should round up your email on a positive note. Doing this crowns the feeling of optimism for the recipient and conveys the message that all ill feelings are long gone.
An example of an apology ending on a positive note is:
“Looking forward to completing more projects with you.”
“Now that we’ve officially put this behind us. Let’s get to work.”
How to Decline an Apology
All of the above is set on the basis that you’ve forgiven the recipient and are now willing to move on. If you’re still upset about what they did, do not tell them you’re not. Your feelings should be translated. If an offender is apologizing, it would be great to put differences aside. But, some scenarios are different.
So, if you’re not completely ready to move on from the incident yet, here are some replies you can send:
“I hear your apology, but I’m still going to need some time to myself to ponder on things.”
“Thank you for apologizing. But, I’m still dealing with the repercussions of your actions and I don’t think I’m ready to move on yet.”
Sample Email to Accept an Apology Sample 1
Dear John, Thank you for your apology. I'm glad to receive it and I understand your reasons better now. While the experience was not a great one, it doesn’t matter now as it's all in the past. In the future, please reach out to me or any of the team leads before carrying out any plan of action. Let's put this in the past and forge ahead. Thank you. Sincerely, Frank Blunt
Sample Email to Accept an Apology Sample 2
Dear Solomon, I have received your apology email and I accept your apology. I understand that you're not entirely to blame for the malfunction. It takes a great deal of courage to admit one’s mistakes. I also apologize for my fault in escalating all of this. Let's work together to create a better workplace and better serve our customers. Cheers. Jim Corden
Sample Email to Accept an Apology Sample 3
Dear Samuel, This email is written in regard to the apology email you sent to me on the 14th of April. I appreciate you for taking the time to apologize for the incident that occurred in the office. I understand it wasn’t your fault. In the advent of anything like this repeating itself, please let me know on time so I can help de-escalate the tension before a reoccurrence occurs. I appreciate your hard work. Thank you. Sincerely, James Bosa
Sample Email to DECLINE an Apology Sample 1
Dear John, Thank you for sending in your apology for the incident that occurred. Unfortunately, your apology doesn’t change much. The entire department is still dealing with the repercussions of your actions and quite frankly, we’re not ready to move on yet. Thank you James Yang
Sample Email to DECLINE an Apology Sample 2
Dear Samuel, I’m writing this email regarding the apology email you sent on the 7th of February. Honestly, I hear your apology, but I’m still going to need some time to myself to ponder on things. Thank you for your apology. Sincerely, Keeley Roy
There isn’t a one size fits all answer to responding to an apology. This is because no two offenses are the same. Regardless, in this article, we’ve listed the ways to write an apology response regardless of the offense. We’ve also included samples as pointers to guide you toward responding to apology emails.