Have you ever felt like someone was being so “strong-headed” about gracefully receiving an apology? I know I have been on the other end of not thinking an apology was sincere enough despite efforts to believe they were. So, imagine my great fortune when i stumble across the fifth chapter of the book titled Things I wish I’d known before We Got Married. The chapter is titled – I wish I had known That Apologizing is a Sign of Strength, it elaborates on the 5 languages an apology ever given or received can be categorized into. If anyone is familiar with the well acclaimed book – 5 Love Languages by the same author – Gary Chapman, these 5 Apology Languages are similar in that aspect.

Similar to our primary language of communication, we all have emotional languages too. The way we primarily like to show or be shown love, the form in which we like to give or receive an apology, the mode in which we like to ensure complete rest or relaxation and the way we express anger or frustration. These primary emotional languages when not fully understood can result in hiccups in our relationships with people, which could be removed with a better understanding.

In this post, I would like to share the 5 apology languages as shared by Gary Chapman

  1. Expressing Regret 

Before you say “duh…isn’t that what an apology is about?”. This language is not about just saying “sorry”, it’s about expressing what the apology is for. I can’t count how many times I have been told “just say sorry and it’s enough” but I am of the opinion that’s it’s not and well, for those who have this as their apology language, it’s not enough.

“I’m sorry” may well be the first words in expressing this apology language. However, you need to tell what you are sorry for. The words “I’m sorry,” spoken alone, are much too general.

I am sorry for arriving late to the event, I know how much this meant to you

2. Accepting Responsibility 

This is about taking responsibility for your wrongdoing by stating why this behavior is wrong. It defers from expressing regret in that it is an evaluation of the results on the wrong doing. For example: a typical apology in this language would be

It was wrong of me to have spoken to you in that tone in public, it was very embarrassing and I should not have done so

3. Making Restitution

This Apology language is about backing the apology with actions preferably the love language of the person in question. Its about reassurance that even though I may have hurt you, I still care about you and have your best interest in mind. So if you ever get asked how do I know you care about me enough after doing a wrong, might be time for some restitution.

I am sorry I failed to make it to dinner with your parents, I owe you and promise to make it up to you by ….

4. Genuinely expressing the desire to change your behavior

Nothing can be as infuriating as hearing an apology for the same thing over and over again, at least for me. Its like what’s the point of apologizing if you know you will do the same thing the next chance you get. So there’s an apology language for people who think this way too and thats to offer a plan that shows an effort to correct the behavior or action.

I am sorry for always coming home late from work and missing dinner. I will plan my day better to enable me finish my tasks on time so we can spend the evening together

5. Requesting Forgiveness

To some people, its not about apologizing, its about the offering forgiveness when requested. They want to know that you care enough to have things go back to the way they were as thats the most important thing about an apology.

I know I hurt you by being complacent about the vacation plans, will you please forgive me?

At the end of the day its all about things we do for those we love, so take a moment today and make a mental note of the apology languages of people in your life – family and friends, this helps make relationships stronger as you can understand them better and some reasons why they act the way they do.

This is a really great resource to learn more about all you need to know about the different dynamics of relationship and marriage

References: Chapman, Gary D (2010-08-24). The 5 Love Languages/Things I Wish I’d Known Before We Got Married Set (Kindle Location 4087). Moody Publishers. Kindle Edition.