Writing Great Emails: Apologizing



(1) Apology, To apologize, Apologies: When you say that you’re sorry

He apologized for being late, but I couldn’t accept his apology. This happens too often. I’m tired of his apologies.

(2) To mess up: To make a mistake

I really messed up this time. I hope she doesn’t fire me.

(3) Blame: Responsibility for something bad

I blame our old technology. It makes everything go so slowly.



1. What can you write in order to accept blame?

a. That was my fault.

b. It’s unfortunate that happened.

c. I heard they messed up your order.

2. What can you write to blame an unknown person?

a. It was wrong that I…

b. I understand that…

c. You’ll accept my apologies for…

3. What is the best length for an apology email?

a. Short

b. Medium

c. Long


Writing Great Emails


En-velop_bleu By Jeremy Schaar

Everyone makes mistakes. We feel terrible and we need to apologize. But how?

In this post, you’ll learn a few different ways to say that you’re sorry.

Review the situation and apologize

The first step in an apology email is to describe the bad thing that happened and say that you’re sorry. You should describe the situation simply and directly. Don’t write a lot. The other person probably already knows what happened. Still, you have to say something. Here are some examples:

I just learned that you didn’t receive your order. That was my fault. I’m really sorry.

I wanted to apologize for not telling you about the change.

I understand that you didn’t receive the order. Please accept my apologies.

It was unfortunate that you had such a bad experience at the show. I’m sorry that had to happen.

Note that in the first two examples, you did something wrong, so you accept responsibility. To focus the blame on yourself, say I. If it’s unclear who was wrong, you can say that was my fault. That means you accept the blame.

In the third and fourth examples, it seems like someone else was wrong. Sometimes you need to say sorry even though you didn’t make the mistake. I understand that and It was unfortunate that are good ways to do this. You don’t want to name the person who made the mistake. This lets you describe the bad thing without blaming anyone at all.

Please accept my apologies and I’m sorry that had to happen are good phrases in either situation. They’re formal and polite. They can be used in most situations.

Casual Apologies

Not every company or every person likes such formal language as above. For example, if you’ve been working with someone for a while and you’re friendly, the language above would seem strange. How can you apologize to a friend? Here are some examples.

I messed up with that. Sorry.

I really screwed that up.

Just needed to say sorry for that meeting yesterday.

In all three situations, you’re using casual language. Messed up and screwed up are both very casual. In the third example, just needed to is an informal way to start a sentence.

What’s next?

After saying that you’re sorry, you should suggest a solution if it’s possible. Then change the topic and end with something happier. Try to focus on the future and what’s going to happen next.

Don’t write a long email.

After you say you’re sorry and change the topic, end the email. It’s usually good advice to write short emails, but it’s especially important with apologies. Nothing good happens when you write details about how sorry you are or a long explanation about what went wrong. It doesn’t make the person feel better. If they need a long explanation, you might have to write more, but it will be better to meet with them than to write about it.

Want more practice? Got questions? Comment on the blog, Facebook, or Twitter.


Answers To Today’s Questions

A, B, A


You Can Do It All Yourself But You Dont Have To

Supply Chain Wednesday: S&OP



(1) Backlog: Too much of something

We have a backlog of steel frames. It’s a waste of space and money. What happened?

(2) To control: To make sure something is at the right level

Inventory levels are carefully controlled. If they get too high, we lose money. If they get too low, we can be short of what we need.

(3) Planning horizon: A horizon is the farthest you can see. It comes from the earth. The horizon is the place where you can’t see further, the place where the sun sets.

Our planning horizon is four quarters. Beyond that, it’s more strategic plans than a careful process.



1. What does it mean to create a production plan in the context of sales?

a. Sales and production influence each other

b. Sales influences the production plan

c. The production plan influences sales

2. What is an especially nice benefit of S&OP?

a. Everyone sees how their decisions influence the company’s other departments

b. Everyone sees how planning influences finance

c. Everyone sees how they can contribute to financial decisions

3. What’s the tone of “we need to involve marketing in this”?

a. Friendly

b. Direct

c. Worried

7 ________________________



Monthly_S&OP_ProcessBy Jeremy Schaar

Today on the blog you’ll learn about S&OP. You’ll also learn about some great links for further study. Finally, you’ll learn some real life expressions that you can use on the job.


S&OP means Sales and Operation Planning. What does it mean? Basically, a company decides how much they want to sell and how much they need to produce. S&OP is a process companies use to decide their manufacturing output and other activities in the context of the sales plan. Manufacturing output can also be called production plan. It decides production rates, controls inventories, and deals with backlogs. And everything should be done without too much hiring or firing. The planning horizon for the process is how far into the future the plan goes. To create a plan, companies use information from many departments: marketing, manufacturing, finance, etc.


Here’s a great link to see a few real world S&OP charts.

Note two things. First, Enchange divides the processes between demand and supply. Second, everything influences everything else. This is key. S&OP is wonderful because it forces everyone in the company to consider all the parts. They’ll see how their decisions affect different parts of the company. For example, demand for a product influences finance decisions, but so does the actual production. It’s a big circle with everything influencing everything else.

For a successful S&OP, check out John Westerveld’s blog post at Kinaxis. He writes about six key elements.

1. Executive Commitment and involvement

2. S&OP is used to run the business

3. Accurate S&OP data

4. Solutions – not just problems

5. Scenario driven

6. Run effective meetings and keep meticulous minutes

On The Job

“ I am responsible for preparing our divisional S&OP plans.”

Use this sentence to describe your job. It’s a good one to use at a conference where you’re meeting new people.

“Our major suppliers and customers need to be a big part of the S&OP process.

Here I wrote “major suppliers and customers”, but it could be anyone you think needs to be part of the process. This is a strong, clear sentence. It’s not polite, but it is very direct and people will listen if you speak like this.

Got questions or comments? How about practicing some new vocabulary and posting your thoughts on the blog, Facebook, or Twitter?


Answers To Today’s Questions

B, A, B


You Can Do It All Yourself But You Dont Have To

Business Strategy Monday: Amazon’s Strategy



(1) Pillar: Something that supports, an important and basic part

The pillars of the economy are manufacturing, retail, and finance.

(2) Liquid Asset: Cash and other assets that can quickly become cash

Liquid assets are very important in acquisitions because they can be used to buy stock.

(3) On behalf of someone: For someone

All of our actions need to be on behalf of the customer. They can’t be for someone else.



1. Jeff Bezos says “your margin is my opportunity.” Let’s say you’re selling something for $5 and it costs you $3 to make it. What will Amazon’s price be?

a. $1

b. $2

c. $3

2. How does Amazon innovate?

a. By thinking about low prices

b. By thinking about the customer

c. By thinking about margin

3. What does it mean for something to be an article of faith?

a. You just believe it. You don’t worry about evidence

b. You worry about it before anything else

c. You believe it and try to make others follow you

7 ________________________



By Jeremy Schaar

In today’s lesson you’ll learn about Amazon’s strategy. You’ll study a few quotes from Amazon’s CEO Jeff Bezos. You’ll learn some vocabulary and some strategy theory.

A Quick Overview of Amazon’s Strategy

Amazon is the world’s most important online retailer. In ten years, they might just replace WalMart as the world’s biggest retailer. Their strategy has two pillars. First is to keep prices low. Second is to always focus on helping the customer. They constantly invest in new facilities and technology. They don’t worry at all about having cash on hand. Many people focus on Amazon’s net income which is always close to zero, but cash is just one asset. Non-liquid assets are growing at a remarkable rate.

Explore more AMZN Data at Wikinvest

Here are some great quotes from Amazon’s CEO Jeff Bezos:

Commitment to Low Prices

“There are two kinds of companies: Those that work to try to charge more and those that work to charge less. We will be the second.”

“Your margin is my opportunity.”

“We’ve done price elasticity studies, and the answer is always that we should raise prices. We don’t do that, because we believe — and we have to take this as an article of faith — that by keeping our prices very, very low, we earn trust with customers over time, and that that actually does maximize free cash flow over the long term.”

Staying Customer Focused

“We innovate by starting with the customer and working backwards. That becomes the touchstone for how we invent.”

“If you’re long-term oriented, customer interests and shareholder interests are aligned.”

“When [competitors are] in the shower in the morning, they’re thinking about how they’re going to get ahead of one of their top competitors. Here in the shower, we’re thinking about how we are going to invent something on behalf of a customer.”

Got questions or comments? How about practicing some new vocabulary and posting your thoughts on the blog, Facebook, or Twitter?


Answers To Today’s Questions

C, B, A


You Can Do It All Yourself But You Dont Have To

Free Form Friday: Executive Compensation



(1) Compensation: Usually money, but anything someone is given to do a job.

If we want to attract the best employees, we need to increase compensation.

(2) Big bucks: Bucks means dollars, so we often talk about “big bucks” to mean a lot of money.

I don’t get paid big bucks, but I love my job.

(3) Objectively: The opposite of subjectively–it means to think about something without emotions or personal opinions

I can’t think about this deal objectively because I’m so angry with her.



1. Why should executive compensation be put at risk?

a. It’s only fair for executives to be able to lose their money.

b. So that executives can lose something and are therefore motivated to work well.

c. If executives can lose their money, they’ll think about the long-term more.

2. What’s one way compensation could encourage long-term thinking?

a. It could be lost if the executive does a bad job

b. It could be linked with low pay at the company

c. It could increase for each good year

3. What’s one way to make executive pay fair?

a. It could be linked with low pay at the company

b. Executives could get paid well only if the company does well

c. It could be linked with long-term thinking

7 ________________________

Free Form Friday


JHML1103-6609 By Jeremy Schaar

Today on the blog, we’ll look at an article on CEO pay. You’ll learn some interesting ideas about how to determine CEO pay. You’ll also learn some useful vocabulary.

In this post at Strategy+Business, James O’Toole discusses CEO pay. He begins by noting that SEC (Securities and Exchange Commission) regulators are going to force companies to become more transparent about CEO pay. But he would prefer if company boards would just do a better job with executive compensation. To that end he suggests three principles.

1. “Put executive money at risk”

To be “at risk” means that something can be lost. He gives a nice example of going to a casino. If you’re playing with your money, then you’re cautious. But if the casino gives you money, then you don’t care. You can only win, you can’t lose. With stock options, he feels executives have nothing to lose, they can only win. He encourages companies to give actual stock instead of stock options.

2. “Compensation needs to encourage long-term thinking.”

To encourage something is to push someone to something. He thinks that bonuses are good motivators, but that they should increase with each year of performance in order to encourage long-term thinking (e.g. 10% for one good year, 20% for two good years, etc.)

3. “The third principle is fairness. I suspect there would be less public outcry about executive compensation if those big bucks were seen as objectively earned.”

“Public outcry” is when a lot of people complain about something. He doesn’t know what fair pay is, but it does seem unfair for a CEO to make $25 million when a secretary makes $25,000. But that’s not his real point. He thinks the big problem is when executives get a lot of money after the company does really bad. Fair means that if the company does well, so does the executive. If the company does bad, the executives don’t get millions of dollars.

What do you think? As always, if you have any questions, please post them on the blog, Facebook, or Twitter.

And, by the way, if you have trouble understanding the blogs or LinkedIn groups, send me a message. We teach lots of students Business English and I’m sure we could help you too!


Answers To Today’s Questions

B, C, B


You Can Do It All Yourself But You Dont Have To

Writing Great Emails: Polite vs. Direct



(1) Assertive: Strongly presenting your opinion

Be very assertive when you ask for a raise. Tell her exactly why she should give it to you. Don’t be afraid.

(2) Rude: Impolite

I can’t believe how rude he is! He asked how old I was and if I was on a diet!

(3) Grateful: Thankful

I was really grateful you were there. I would have done terrible without you.



1. What is a big advantage of being direct?

a. You know no one will be angry

b. You know you will be understood

c. You know they’ll like you

2. What is a big advantage of being polite?

a. You know no one will be angry

b. You know you will be understood

c. You know they’ll like you

3. What is one way to be polite?

a. Tell a joke

b. Say that something is possible

c. Ask if something is possible


Writing Great Emails


En-velop_bleu By Jeremy Schaar

Do you want to be more polite or more direct when you’re writing emails? There are advantages and disadvantages to both. Of course, it’s not quite so simple. In a perfect world, your writing will be both polite and direct.

In today’s lesson, you’ll learn about the differences. Then you’ll study some examples.


Advantages: Direct writing is confident and assertive. You’re acting like you know what you’re writing about very well. It’s also very clear.

Disadvantages: Direct writing can be rude and uncaring if you’re not careful.


Advantages: You’ll be friendly, likeable, and caring.

Disadvantages: By focusing on being polite, it might not seem like something is very important to you.

Let’s look at a situation. The first sentence will be direct. The second will be polite. The third will be a combination.

Situation: You need to request 500 extra units of something at the last minute. You’re writing to your supplier.

Direct: Please send 500 extra units. We will need them by Friday.

Polite: Do you think it would be possible to send us 500 extra units by Friday? We’d be most grateful.

Notice that the direct version is very short and clear. No one would misunderstand you. However, you’re giving an order here. Do you want to order your supplier? What if they can’t do it? What if they’ll feel bad if you don’t ask nicely? Maybe you’ll offend them.

The polite version could be misunderstood. It doesn’t seem important. However, by saying “do you think it would be possible,” you’re being very kind. “We’d be most grateful” means that you’re thanking them in advance. They haven’t even done anything, and you’ve already thanked them!

Best: We really need 500 extra units by Friday. Can you help us out with this order?

This is best. You’re being direct, but polite. You still ask a question, but only after you’ve been direct. (Questions make English more polite.) Also, you don’t thank them in advance. Instead, you ask a short question and imply that you’ll thank them for the help.

Want more practice? Got questions? Comment on the blog, Facebook, or Twitter.


Answers To Today’s Questions

B, A, C


You Can Do It All Yourself But You Dont Have To

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