We all make mistakes, but often it is hard to admit them and more difficult yet to say those key words, “I’m sorry.” When you have offended someone in business, a sincere apology is essential if you wish to continue the relationship and move on. Some times words are enough. Other times a note should be sent, and depending on the offense and the relationship with the other person, a gift may be in order. 


The most important thing is to apologize immediately. If you are with the person at the time of the offense—perhaps you have made an ill-chosen remark—say you are sorry right then. Look and sound as if you mean it.

If you find out after the fact that you have wronged someone, call or visit the person right away. Don’t let any time elapse before you apologize. The longer you wait the more difficult it will be become and the less sincere you will seem. The harm you may have done will solidify with the passage of time unless you react with speed.

The spoken word is rarely enough. After you have said, “I’m sorry,” go on record with a note that offers lasting proof of your sincerity. As always, a handwritten note implies extra effort.

There are times when a small gift accompanying your apology is appropriate. Flowers are the most traditional way to show regret, but a personalized gift, such as golf balls for the golfer, will demonstrate your thoughtfulness.

It is never too late to ask forgiveness. If you find out well after the fact that you have offended someone, apologize then. Chances are that person still remembers and will appreciate your effort to set things right.

No matter what the circumstances that caused the problem, no one wants or needs to hear a list of excuses. Maybe you had just had a root canal when you uttered that thoughtless comment—it doesn’t matter and should not be part of your apology.

About the author

Lydia Ramsey

Lydia Ramsey

Lydia Ramsey helps people promote themselves and grow their business by showing them how…

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