How to Apologize for a Late Reply

Chances are there that you get a e-mail when you are already in a busy schedule which will let you forget to reply the email and to add more, we will embraced to see a reminder E-Mail to the original Conversation. And in that case, how do you apologize for not replying earlier, or if it took you a long time to respond?

I have seen sentences like ”Sorry for my late reply” or ”Sorry for the delayed response”, but is there any better way to express my apologies.

If you don’t want to try anything different, I recommend no change, or even slightly simpler, “Sorry for the delay.” Then get to business by addressing the email/request..

I’m sure it varies by industry, but things move quickly. A delayed response could only be minutes or hours, and excuses are a waste of valuable time. Simple, clear, sincere responses are really appreciated. Also if someone wants details, they will ask.

If the delay is not substantial and was some significant simply noted issue, go with a simple, “Sorry for the delay.” And then address the email/request.

If the delay is substantial, write, “Deepest apologies…” And put the real reason (very briefly), even if it’s truthfully that I missed something or screwed up. I don’t know anyone who doesn’t have dozens of emails to get through each day, where even a simple mis-swipe to open your phone can mark an email as read, very few people will not understand. And anyone who does get hot, well, then it was panic!

And here are some of the same reply for the delayed response.

“Sorry for the delayed response. I’ve seen your mail but couldn’t respond earlier due to XYZ reason.” You could be honest with the reason for delay and in most cases it is appreciated by the person at the other end. And if the reason is personal, you could mention that due to personal reasons or unforeseen circumstances.

I would guess the crucial thing here is if you have a good enough excuse as to why you did not respond?  The other consideration would have to be if it is a business response or a social response?

The point is when you have an apology to make in this regard, it is imperative to come up with a good reason as to why you are apologising, otherwise the apology will just fall flat.  i.e.  writing to a friend:

“I apologise for taking so long in responding to your e-mail.  Anyway I am glad to hear you are ok.   Looks like something is missing!  However, if you wrote:

“I apologise for the delay in responding to your e-mail which was due to illness/out of town on business/ etc.  Anyway, I was so pleased to hear from you… sounds a bit more credible.

If it is a business apology, then something more cordial would do:

“Kindly accept my sincere apologies for the delay in replying to your e-mail, which was due to……….”

And when the delay is related to work, and you need to be very honest with that too.

I acknowledged the elapsed time, then I offered a reasonable estimate on when I’d have the required information.

“I imagine / recognise / understand that you would have preferred an earlier response to your note/email/enquiry, but your question/request/situation required some thought/time/research…” But in your own words, to suit the situation, of course.

The thing is, when you’re talking about professional etiquette, both brevity and courtesy matter. “Sorry for the delayed response” ranks highly in both categories, as does “Sorry for my late reply”.

And, if in advance you know that your reply will be delayed, a simple acknowledgement of receipt and promise to answer at a real time is quite acceptable in many circumstances.

Also another way is, you first greet the person and thank them for being patient. You can then say you apologize for the delay. Something like:

Hello {name}
I hope you’re doing well. Thank you for your patience while I was working on …. I sincerely apologize for the delay in response.

Or

Hi {Name}
I hope you’re having a good week/day. Firstly, I’d like to apologize for the delay in response. Thank you for your patience all this while.

For anyone who don’t like the standard response statements for things either. You can make it sound allot more personal sounding by first saying something like “Oh my God, I am so sorry I didn’t see your email” or “Hey, how are you doing?” before I launch into the apology .

Sometimes the person who you don’t get back to quickly is someone you don’t really want to get back to but couldn’t really ignore completely so you can make a little excuse like “Oh, sorry I didn’t mean to take so long I’ve been so busy doing …..” then just say what you have been doing like yard work or something.

Dear Email Friend,

I’m so sorry, I didn’t respond sooner to your note. It has nothing to do with how important I see you and I don’t see you as an unvalued friend. I was busy earlier today and only just got time to write. I hope you can accept my apologies and understand that I will try to respond to your notes at my earliest convenience.

(Follow up on the topic of conversation here)

It’s not hard. In an apology you accept responsibility, validate the other persons feelings, and try to rectify the situation. Then you simply follow through with what you agree upon

If you took a fair amount of time to reply I would make use of that but not by apologising for the time.  To me that sounds negative and uncaring.

I would rather suggest something along the lines, of: “My response has been delayed due to the fact that I wanted my answer to be of value to you.  I have therefore spent time researching….” and then you could explain what you have discovered and what information you found which you thought would be of value.

That implies treating a person with respect and value.  And it is a positive use of your time.

I hope that suggestion is of value for you.

What ever, as we have discussed earlier, it is based on business or a personal email to which you’re responding.  If it is personal.  then by all means mention your delay.  Don’t just slough over it.  Believe me, the other person is well aware it took you so long to respond and would at least appreciate some form of acknowledgement on your part that they may be hurt or offended or at best, put off by your ignoring their letter for so long.

In such a case, if you are friends and/or know each other well, you could try to open with some humor i.e. “I’m so very sorry it’s taken me this long to write back to you. When ever I sat down to write you, it became more and more difficult to find a way to apologize for not writing sooner. I’m sorry for being so insensitive and hope you can forgive me.”

That may be a bit “much”, but I’m sure you could edit it down to just a very sincere apology. Most important is to acknowledge what you did (or didn’t do in this case); let the person know how very sorry you are and; to ask their forgiveness.  Then just get on to writing a really good, heartfelt letter.

Also you can use something like, “I apologize for taking so long to respond” or if you feel particularly bad “I sincerely apologize for taking so long to respond”.

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About Haja

Software Engineer by profession, Author and the Founder of "bench3" you can connect with me on Twitter , Facebook and also on Google+

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