Apology and forgiveness are important in all our relationships.
None of us is perfect. Offenses happen. And the road toward forgiveness and reconciliation can be more complicated and take more time than saying, "I'm sorry."
Have you ever offended someone, apologized, and still experienced barriers in the relationship? Apologizing may not be enough to restore a relationship if it isn't what the offended person needs to hear, explained Gary Chapman and Jennifer Thomas, authors of The Five Languages of Apology: How to Experience Healing in All Your Relationships.
There are different ways to apologize. More importantly, there are different expectations people have for when they believe an apology is sincere. So, unless the words and expressions meet another's expectations, the apology may not be healing, no matter how sincere.
If you're looking for practical information on this subject, I'd highly recommend listening to two pod casts where Chapman and Thomas share important insights into a timeless and important issue for all of us who have ever offended someone we care about:
Overcoming Barriers to Forgiveness 1
Overcoming Barriers to Forgiveness 2
In brief, Chapman and Thomas said the five apology languages are different ways someone thinks another should apologize if they are really sincere:
- Expressing regret ("I'm sorry." And tell them what you're sorry for.)
- Accepting responsibility ("I was wrong.")
- Making restitution ("What can I do to make this right with you?")
- Genuinely repenting (by planning to change) ("What I'm going to do to change the plan so this situation may never happen again.")
- Requesting forgiveness ("Please forgive me.")
So, why learn apology languages? If you value a relationship, why not learn to communicate an apology in a way that expresses sincerity to the offended person? Effective communication can bring healing where barriers once existed.
What do you need to hear for an apology to bring healing? Respond in the comments.