Words of Wisdom

Serving ‘Em Up: Apologies

We’ve all done something wrong or had wrong done to us. In many instances, this has warranted an apology. But every-so-often, we receive an apology that just doesn’t sit well or seems satisfactory to someone else but not to us. This post is all about why that may be.

Dr. Gary Chapman is the author of the 5 Love Languages. He has decades of experience in counseling and learning how each individual gives love and receives love in order to help relationships thrive. In 2006, he took his work a step further by writing a book about how we give and receive apologies. Knowing how your friend, partner, parent, child or co-worker prefers to be apologized to can allow you to tailor your communication to them in a way that is sincere and meaningful.

In this post, I’m going to summarize what each of the 5 Apology Languages is so that you can get an idea of Dr. Chapman’s concepts. I’ll also leave a link to his Apology Language Test here in case you want to know what your apology languages are.

I. Expressing Regret

This isn’t about finding joy in the guilt of others but about appreciating when someone who hurt you shows some sort of remorse. It’s a way of knowing that the person acknowledges that they hurt you and has an emotional reaction to doing so. For some people, this alone is enough to mend a relationship.

II. Accepting Responsibility

This was my top priority in an apology. No one is perfect and mistakes are inevitable. Accepting responsibility means putting aside your ego in order to admit to the part that you played in a situation. It’s not always easy to do because it challenges our self-worth, but for many people, it shows sincerity and an ability to understand where you went wrong. There is a vulnerability in accepting responsibility for our actions – both good and bad – that should be deeply respected.

BTW: I love Michael Caine.

III. Making Restitution.

This is about making it up to the person you’ve wronged. Perhaps this means buying your friend a new top if you wear theirs and leave a stain on it, or taking someone to dinner because you forgot to hang out with them the week before. True restitution comes in conjunction with knowing the other person’s love language so that you can tailor your apology to their needs. It means that you’ve acknowledged that you messed up and want to rewrite the script in a more positive way.

IV. Genuinely Repenting

This is all about changing behaviors in order to avoid the repetition of a certain hurt or situation. Repenting is about looking at exactly what went wrong and trying to find methods that will help the relationship grow from it. An apology is one thing, but it is very easy to repeat the same mistake again if nothing changes. Genuinely repenting is basically a way of avoiding “empty promises” by implementing tangible steps in order to avoid the recurrence of the same pain. (It takes a little bit of work, and oftentimes some tweaking to get this one right).

V. Requesting Forgiveness

It’s as simple as it sounds: It’s asking the other person to forgive you for your actions. To those who find requesting forgiveness important, it acts as a symbol of a desire for the relationship to work beyond the current issue. It is a way for the “wronged” to get verbal affirmation that their partner wants things to work out moving forward while it serves as verbal affirmation for the “wrong-doer” that their partner is also willing to move past something and let it go.

If more than one of these resonates with you, that’s totally normal. Most of us prefer a combination of two or more, and it also varies depending on the severity of the situation. Taking the time to figure our your apology languages means that you can communicate them to the important people in your life so that they can respect them.

So what are some of your apology languages?

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