There are better options for saying sorry. Sometimes there’s a more appropriate way to express regret about a situation, especially if it’s out of your control. Other times—when you really are remorseful and at fault—there are stronger ways to say it. Here, is some suggestions to effectively write better!

1“I realize this is disappointing.”  

Imagine this: You’re exhausted from a busy work week and need to cancel something important . . . thirty minutes before it starts. Sending “Sorry for the inconvenience” feels like an impersonal way to deliver that news. Even though our communications are increasingly digital, we are not robots. Remembering that there is a person on the other end of the correspondence. 

Recognizing disappointment and taking ownership are key here. Show you’re thinking of their perspective. Instead, try starting your text with something along the lines of, “I realize this is short notice, and that we’ve been looking forward to meeting at your favorite restaurant all week. . .” With this, you take accountability. Including personal details also communicates caring. 

Letting your recipient know that you’re aware of your faults and aim to fix things will build trust and confidence in the relationship, whether personal or professional.

2 “Thanks for your patience.”

Regret and remorse are not the same things. Sometimes, things happen that are unfortunate or regrettable but are beyond our control. These circumstances don’t actually warrant your apology.

In apologizing, you risk accepting responsibility for something beyond your control. Instead, shift the emotion at hand from remorse to gratitude. Expressing thanks for understanding flips the script and is likely to spark that very sentiment in the recipient, too. Try: “Thank you so much for your patience. This lets the recipient know that you empathize with and understand their exasperation.

3 “Let me help.”

Instead of offering an apology, offer a solution. People complain when they are disappointed—not because they like to whine, but because they want to be heard, or want their problem to be solved. “I’m sorry for the inconvenience of spilling red wine on your white pants” won’t get the stain out. On the other hand, “Let me pay for your dry cleaning” will. 

Having the awareness to be proactive in the problem-solving process will prove to your recipient that you strive to be a more responsible person. This approach can save you from headaches down the road. Next time there’s a problem that’s within your power to solve, offer to fix it.