Do you know how to apologize properly? Have you ever been completely dissatisfied by an apology offered to you? There is more than one way to apologize. A simple I’m sorry may not always be the ideal way to communicate your regret.
Dr. Gary Chapman explains this problem and offers a solution in his new book The Five Languages of Apology . According to Chapman, we all have different requirements in an apology, and learning to speak the apology languages will help you to sincerely communicate in your most important relationships.
When I first spotted this book on the shelf, I couldn’t help but think, I don’t need that! If anyone knows how to apologize, it’s me . I was kind of right. This seems to be my area of expertise. I am already multilingual when it comes to the art of apology.
So I bought it for my husband.
5 Ways to Apologize
Here are the 5 Languages, as outlined by Dr. Gary Chapman:
Expressing Regret: I’m 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?
Ways to Apologize: The Five Apology Languages
Can I be sure that my apology will be accepted?
You see, it is one of things that really irks me about people. They just don’t do it right. If everyone practiced apologizing properly, the world would surely be a better place. Now call me a perfectionist if you’d like, but you may feel the need to apologize for it later.
If you are going to bite the bullet and say you’re sorry to someone you love because you were truly wrong , you need to own it. You need to accept the responsibility. And they will know if you are sincere.
This brings me to the biggest apology mistake:
“I am sorry I said your tush looks big in those pants, but…”
Anytime you add the but, you shift the responsibility from yourself to the other person. The but is usually followed by something like “I just had to be honest” or “you drove me to it” or “I couldn’t help myself. ” That, my friends, is not an apology. You may possibly be forgiven, but you will not see any restoration in the relationship. Restoring love and trust in a relationship takes genuine effort. An inability to apologize properly can have long lasting effects on a marriage or relationship. It can end it.
I didn’t really buy it for my husband.
I read it and learned a lot about myself. Now I clearly understand why I don’t feel like sorry is enough. I am high maintenance when it comes to apologies. You need to give me at least three or four of the five languages, well done. Then I can quickly forgive.
Then of course, there is the problem of throwing apologies around far too frequently and without good reason. This is where I get into trouble, I’m sorry to say. What is the problem with that? It’s like crying wolf. If you do it too much, your sincerity will be questioned. Notice that apologizing for everything doesn’t make you feel well.
And then there are those of us who cannot, no matter how hard we try, muster up the strength to say those two little words at all.
How To Recognize A Sincere Apology
I know what you are thinking, but before you email this off to your significant other to point out how badly they need to learn how to apologize, wait. Finish reading. Watch the videos. Maybe you can learn a thing or two about yourself. Maybe you could benefit and learn a few new ways to apologize too.
Think about the definition of repentance. It basically means “ I have changed my mind about this.” The point is to communicate that effectively in an apology. The words are not completely universal. One person may feel that I’m sorry is completely adequate. Another may need to hear Will you please forgive me? or I’ll make it up to you or I won’t do it again.
So what does this perfectionist want in an apology? Some thing like this:
“Amy, my beautiful, thin woman, I am so truly sorry .You were right and I was wrong (as usual). I never should have worn my AC /DC concert t-shirt that is 20-years-old and 2 sizes too small to your high school reunion. Please forgive me. I have seen my mistake and will never do it again. I promise to wear a nice polo shirt from now on and preserve your reputation for good decent taste. I will make it up to you this Saturday by taking the kids for the day. Here is a gift certificate for a day at the spa.”
Yes, in my dreams. For the record: my husband does put that shirt on now and then, but he has never really worn it out.
Why Do We Need Apologies? Do We Really Need So Many Ways to Apologize?
When you have been wronged by someone you love, some one you have trusted, someone who is supposed to love you or claims to respect you, something within you begins to cry out for reconciliation. Without it your relationship and the bond you share will be broken. The relationship may go on, but it will be only a shadow of what it was; a shadow of what it could or should be.
Keep in mind that apologizing is all about doing it for someone else. It is about letting them know you have remorse. Oh, and they know. They always know if you are sincere. Don’t you recognize a fake, forced apology when you hear one? How does that make you feel about the other person? You know from experience that fake is not an effective way to apologize. It only makes the situation worse.
Learn to apologize effectively. It will save both you and the person who deserves the apology unnecessary pain.
Does your marriage need more than an apology to get back on track? The marriage fitness program can help you find the love and joy in your marriage again – no matter what challenges you’re facing.