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Apology Language

Just like how individuals give and receive love differently, people differ in how they give and receive an apology. Dr. Gary Chapman teamed up with counselor Jennifer Thomas to create a concept known as apology language. Simply put, apology language delineates how a person gives and receives the statement, “I’m sorry.”

Below are the five apology languages:

  1. Expressing regret (“I feel ashamed for how I hurt and upset you.”)

  2. Accepting responsibility (“I was wrong for what I did to you.”)

  3. Genuinely repent (“I am so sorry. I won’t do that again. Next time, I will do _____ differently.”)

  4. Making restitution (“How can I make this up to you? Maybe I can ______.”)

  5. Requesting forgiveness (“Will you forgive me for hurting you?”)

In order to move on from a disagreement, every person must have their needs met. While simply saying, “I’m sorry” (expressing regret) may be sufficient for some, others may need to be asked to accept the other person’s apology (requesting forgiveness) or hear actually how the other person plans on making the situation better (making restitution). For the people who need to hear more than a blanket statement, words like “I’m sorry” or “I messed up” may come across as hollow or surface level.

Okay. So why does this information matter?

Well, because we are constantly in relationships and people make mistakes...a lot.

While in relationships, romantic or not, facilitating forgiveness is an essential skill. Apologizing in a way that makes another person feel seen and heard validates their feelings and squashes misunderstandings quickly.

Curious as to which apology language resonates most with you? Dr. Chapman created a quiz that will help you learn more about your primary apology language. You may access the free online quiz through the following link:

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