Based on a conversation that was occurring in our Facebook Tribe Group. The topic of apology came up and what that looks like for each of us. I thought that it was an important topic and one that was worth taking time to talk about.
So, what does the word apology mean to you? Is it expressing remorse? Is it saying “I’m Sorry”? Perhaps it is buying of gifts? Each person has a different apology language. Gary Chapman, the author of the Five Love Languages, also has a book called the Five Languages of Apology. This book is a wonderful read, and I highly suggest you add it to your list.
The important thing to remember as we move forward, is that each of us has a different need for receiving and a different way of expressing apologies. Where trouble can come in is if you need to give or receive apologies in one way, but your partner expresses it in a different way.
Before we get to far into that.. let’s talk about the different languages of apology.
- Expressing Regret: “I am sorry”.
- Accepting Responsibility; “I was wrong.”
- Making Restitution: “What can I do to make it right?”
- Genuinely Repenting: “I’ll try not to do it again.”
- Requesting Forgiveness: “Will you please forgive me?”
Let’s break each of those areas down a bit:
Expressing Regret. If you (or your partner) has this language they need to hear you say that you are sorry and what you are sorry for. They want to know that you understand what behavior hurt them and need the healing that comes with that recognition. “I am sorry for not listening to you when you really showed me you need to talk.”
Accepting Responsibility: This language needs for the acceptance of what you did or said and that you acknowledge it was wrong. More than just saying “I’m sorry”, it’s the actual speaking of what occurred. “I was wrong with not following through on my promise to you.”
Making Restitution. The person can feel like they are unloved because of what occurred. They can doubt the relationship and wonder how you can love them with what you did. Often times this language will come with gift buying or some other tangible item that can be used to show how much love they have for you. “What can I do to make this situation right?” (Can include gifts or other special activities
Genuinely Repenting: This form of apology doesn’t stop with words, it follows with a desire to change the behavior. If the behavior doesn’t change, than apology really didn’t occur. “I realize that not calling when I am going to be late can be upsetting and I will make sure I call you from this point forward.”
Requesting Forgiveness: Those with this love language need to hear these words. Requesting forgiveness is a way to touch their hearts and make it sincere to them. “Will you please forgive me for making you feel uncomfortable last night.”
It is important to know which of these apology languages speak to you, because it can help you in finding repair and connection.
For example: If I need Expressing Regret to move on from a fight, but my partner is a Making Restitution, it can on the surface, seem that there was no apology. You have a fight, and are waiting to hear “I’m sorry”.. and your partner comes home with flowers or takes you out to dinner. You can tempted to think that your partner didn’t even care to apologize, or is just ignoring the fight, when all along they are trying to connect with you via their apology language.
By focusing on the way we apologize, and the way our partner apologizes can help us not only move on faster, but it can remind us of the love that have for us.