How to Write a Non-Apology Letter

Non-apology letter refers to the kind of letter that you write to apologize for soothing that offended a person even though your intention was not to hurt without showing any form of remorse for the action. At times, you might have to apologize simply because your plan was not gotten right, or because you were not understood. You are merely saying sorry since the other party decided to take offense where there was no need for offense.

In so doing, you are transferring the responsibility of the offense to the other person.

How to non-apologize

A non-apology should be more unclear, obscure and should show no remorseful at all. If you want to non-apologize, this is how to go:
  • Follow “sorry” with “if”, “you” or “you’re.” When writing a non-apology letter, do not stop at sorry. Go ahead to transfer the blame to the other party to make them responsible for the offence they got. You did not intend to offend them, but yes, they got hurt. For instance, you would say, ‘sorry, you didn’t get me right’.
  • Pay no attention to the other person’s concerns. When non-apologizing, it is not time to get the other party to explain what they took from your action or words. You are responsible for what you say, not what people understand. Stand on your ground that they probably did not understand you for there is no reason for their offence.
  • If possible, rectify the situation. When it offends the other person, you can go ahead to rectify it. As you are doing so, make it clear that you are not correcting the whole issue because it was offensive but rather to make them happy. You did not plan for evil, but they took evil out of it, and so you rectify for their good.
  • Do not commit to change. A genuine apology gives a person a responsibility to change because the person has to acknowledge that there is something, he or she did that was wrong. For the non-apology, you are not committing to change to anything better. If anything, you were not aware that your action would offend and so there is no way you can promise not to do it again. It wasn’t intentional. It is the other party that should learn to take it simple next time.
  • Apologize for the wrong thing but purposefully miss the point. When you realize that someone is offended, you can apologize, but you got to miss the point intentionally. This will help you to keep your reputation no matter the problem. For instance, you can tell your intention of doing what you did but do not go ahead to talk about what offended the other party.
  • Use other unspoken means. When you are non-apologizing, you may be in a position that you are not sure of what to say that will reduce the harm. Silence also communicates. You have not to say sorry. You can modify your apology for facial expression you can even roll your eyes to show that you are even wondering why the person is looking for an offence.

Non-apology letter format

Dear XXX

On (date) you didn’t seem amused by what I said at the (event). I am sorry if what I said was harmful to you. I was only giving my mind concerning (subject).

Kindly note that it is never my intention to hurt you. I regret about the level to which the misunderstanding caused harm to you. You, however, need not be taking things so seriously.



Sample non-apology letter

Dear Smith,

On Saturday last week, I realize that you got upset by what I was saying about the right age for one to get married. I am not able to approach you physically since you still don’t seem to be happy about me. Well, I did not intend to hurt you, and that can never be my intention.

I didn’t know that you are past the age I quoted for marriage. If it causes any offence, kindly I am sorry. However, the truth remains that at the age of 30, one should be married or planning for it. Don’t take it too seriously, I was addressing a broad audience, and my focus was not in you. I regret about how you take things seriously.



The differences between apology and non-apology

  • An apology letter shows sincere regret. It gives the writer a sense of the ownership or responsibility of what they did wrong. For instance, once you have said sorry, you follow it with what you did. On the other hand, the non-apology transfers the responsibility of the offense to the other person. For instance, saying sorry, then explaining that the other party was misunderstood what you said.
  • A sincere apology says sorry but does not add ‘if’ after the ‘sorry’. The writer or the speaker takes the responsibility of the offense and acknowledges that, indeed, what happened caused harm. Non-apology, on the other hand, adds ‘if’ after ‘sorry’ to mean that he or she is not even sure what offended the other person.
  • A non-apology comes with the expectation that the friendship or the relationship will continue. A sincere apology, on the other hand, gives time and space for the offended to build trust again before they can get back to normal. The heartfelt apology even provides room for an end of the relationship but with an assurance that they have been forgiven.
  • A sincere apology is made at the right time and in the right place. It has to come as early as when you realize that you offended your friend. If the offense happened in public, then you got to apologize in public, but if it was between the two of you privately, then the apology should come confidentially. A non-apology, on the other hand, does not consider time and place. It can be said anywhere anytime because you are not even sure what offended your friend.

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