People apologize because of committing mistakes either unintentionally or even deliberately.
Responding to apology messages can be an uncomfortable task, not to mention mentally and emotionally demanding.
In business, we cannot let our emotions get into our heads, so we are expected to respond professionally and politely.
This is the meat of our article for today. Now, let’s start with a brief background on how to respond to an apology given through email.
How should we respond to an apology email?
We can respond to an apology email by acknowledging the apology given, moving past the issue, expressing a desire to change the process or behavior, and concluding with a positive note. And, apart from saying “it’s okay,” we can also use “thank you for your apology” or “I appreciate your apology.”
What to include in an apology email response
An apologetic behavior is an indicator that one values the existing relationship more than pride, which is integral in maintaining social harmony.
The need to maintain healthy relationships is somehow quadrupled in business correspondence because a single mistake may put an entire organization’s reputation at stake.
Given the fact that professionalism has to be maintained at all costs, we are also expected to be able to know the right words to say in responding to an apology message.
Since mistakes can be done by anyone, apologies should also come from all levels of stakeholders involved, such as the company, its partners, clients, prospects, etc.
Listed in the following subsections are the essential parts of responding to apology-related messages by email.
Acknowledging the apology
In apologizing, it generally takes courage, time, and effort to create a message with a sincere tonality.
And hence, recognizing these little things is a good way to start the email response because it conveys a sense of professionalism to the reader.
We can acknowledge the apology by using the following statements.
I appreciate your apology.
Thank you for your apology message.
Thank you for taking the time and effort to apologize.
Moving past the issue
After recognizing the apology given, reassuring the recipient that you are willing to move past the issue also creates a sense of security.
You can tweak the message and craft it into something more personal, but here are some templates that can be used in general situations.
I wish it hadn’t happened, but it’s okay.
I wish it hadn’t occurred, but I understand.
I wish you didn’t have to go through all that. We can put the issue aside now.
Expressing a desire for a better process or behavior
Since the ball is in your court, the situation provides a good chance to call out the procedural issue or behavioral misconduct.
In doing so, you can express your desire for a better process or behavior reasonably and, of course, politely.
Suggesting a solution, if applicable within the context, may also help in preventing similar issues in the future.
In business, the most common problems are related to delayed product shipment, employee tardiness or sudden absence, and misinformation.
Here’s an example of how to express a desire on expediting a delivery process.
Concluding with a positive note
Once you’ve expressed a desire for improvement, it is always recommended to end your message with a positive note.
Doing so should prompt the receiving party to improve their behavior or service because of the sense of optimism, which is polite as well, that you are imparting.
Also, conveying a message with a negative connotation will just taint or even worsen the relationship and discourage loyalty from the other party.
Positive notes can be done along the lines of the following statements.
Thank you in advance for improving your service.
Thank you in advance for considering my suggestion.
Thank you in advance for preventing similar issues in the future.
Expressions other than “It’s okay”
Although we would often be prompted to use the generic “it’s okay” verbiage in responding to apologies, there are other alternative expressions that we can make use of.
Not that there’s a problem with using it, but putting a little bit of communicative effort would induce reciprocity from the other party involved.
Here are other ways of saying “it’s okay” in responding to an apology email along with some examples of how to use each of them.
I accept your apology
Accepting an apology is a lot easier than rejecting it, most especially in the realm of business relationships.
As experts put it, it takes more muscles to frown than to smile.
Applying the same analogy in correspondence, we can respond to an apology by saying “I accept your apology.”
Doing so affirms the apologetic email sender that you are certainly willing to leave the issue behind, whatever it is.
Here’s how to use it.
I accept your apology. I understand your situation, and I really do hope you can figure out a solution soon. Thank you in advance.
I appreciate your sincere apology
Another way to say “it’s okay” is “I appreciate your sincere apology,” which conveys more emotion than the previous expression.
It is best to use this verbiage when you really feel that the apology is sincerely done and if you also want to set a formal yet friendly tone in the message.
I appreciate your sincere apology. I hope you didn’t have to go through all the trouble, but let’s leave the problem behind now. What’s important is the solution. Let’s discuss this in detail when you get back to work.
Thank you for taking responsibility
Another similar verbiage to use is “thank you for taking responsibility,” which can be used especially when the person is also providing a possible solution in the apology email.
For example, an employee formally asks for a sudden leave of absence from work by email due to some emergency at home.
And, in the email, the employee also states making up for the lost time by working overtime the following day.
Here’s how we can respond to this.
Thank you for taking responsibility. I do hope everything will be okay at home soon. Let me know if there’s anything I can help you with.
Your apology is acknowledged
One last alternative expression is “Your apology is sincerely acknowledged,” in which the last word means “recognized.”
Using “acknowledged” rather than “accepted” changes the tone of the message into a slightly impersonal one.
Since this is the case, using this expression means implying that you are only willing to recognize the apology instead of accepting it.
Hence, this can be used for mistakes that may need some disciplinary action or proper discussion.
Particularly when the mistake or problem has been recurring, we do not necessarily have to “accept” the apology just yet, unless a change is seen.
Moreover, the passivization of the sentence structure also suggests psychological distancing, a process that turns a casual tone into a more formal one.
Here’s an example to illustrate the explanation.
Your apology is acknowledged. However, according to the records, this has been the third time you’ve been late this week. I would like to discuss this concern with you in person. Kindly see me at my office during your free time during the day. Thank you.
I appreciate hearing from you
Responding to an apology may also be executed by recognizing the act done by the other person and appreciating it.
To do this, you may use the statement “I appreciate hearing from you,” which bears a slightly different connotation.
This statement is a great choice if you want to focus more on the deliberateness of the action taken by the email sender rather than you having the ability to accept the apology.
You may use “I appreciate hearing from you” this way:
I appreciate hearing from you. Please know that I don’t mind what happened, and I am certainly glad that you have found out a solution to the issue.
If you need any further assistance, kindly reach out anytime.
All the best,
I am glad that you reached out
Another expression with a similar connotation to “I appreciate hearing from you” is “I am glad that you reached out.”
This statement is great to use when you also want to highlight the act of apologizing done by the other person.
The adjective “glad” here communicates the idea that you are neither disappointed nor annoyed with whatever mistake or inconvenience that occurred.
Here’s an example of how to use “I am glad you reached out”:
I am glad that you reached out to me regarding this matter. I sincerely appreciate what you have done. Please know that all is good and that we will do what you suggested.
Thank you very much.
Thank you for reaching out
“Thank you for reaching out” can also be used as a more formal alternative to either “I appreciate hearing from you” or “I am glad that you reached out.”
However, using this expression is indicative that you value the act of reaching out rather than the apology.
Doing so shifts your focus to the acknowledgment of the person’s attempt to communicate instead of your emotional, and hence personal, side.
This expression is great when you are considered as more of the authority figure in the context of your email exchange or when the relationship is relatively distant.
You may refer to the following example on how to use “Thank you for reaching out.”
Thank you for reaching out. I believe that my unspecific instructions also caused confusion on your side. Please know that I also appreciate what you have done to solve the issue.
How to reply when your boss or superior says “sorry”?
The default response for anyone who is apologizing, notwithstanding the position held, is to always acknowledge the effort exerted for apologizing.
However, you can increase or decrease the formality level of the expression depending on your relationship with your superior. If the bond is strong enough, you can say “don’t worry about it,” “it’s okay,” or “no problem.”
Otherwise, you can use more formal ones like “I appreciate your apology,” or “Thank you for the apology.”
Frequently Asked Questions on “How to Respond to an Apology Email”
How to respond to an apology email you don’t accept?
If you do not want to accept the apology, you may “acknowledge” the apology instead by saying “Your apology is acknowledged.” Then, you can suggest an action plan afterward, especially if the apology email is concerning employee misconduct.
How to respond to an apology via text?
Communicating using SMS (Short Message Service), is expected to be less formal and rigid than emails. Apart from this, the relationship with the sender has to be considered as well. We can use short responses “don’t worry” or “no problem” in most cases. But if you feel the need to be slightly more formal, then you can say “thanks for your apology” or “apology accepted.”
Email communication is a channel that generally requires professionalism from both or all parties involved.
Therefore, the use of polite and formal language is the default formula when creating responses to apology emails.
As an end note, always bear in mind that exerting more effort in the messaging process by playing around with the sentence structure is pivotal in maintaining healthy relationships.
Hey fellow Linguaholics! It’s me, Marcel. I am the proud owner of linguaholic.com. Languages have always been my passion and I have studied Linguistics, Computational Linguistics and Sinology at the University of Zurich. It is my utmost pleasure to share with all of you guys what I know about languages and linguistics in general.