This week our guest is Dr. Jennifer M. Thomas. She is a motivational speaker and psychologist in private practice with Associates in Christian Counseling in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. Jennifer is the co-author, along with Dr. Gary Chapman of The Five Languages of Apology. She consults with companies on leadership and relationship issues.
Are there friends or family members whom you rarely hear apologize? Their apologies may be long overdue. Here is the problem: we have a natural tendency to gloss over what we have done wrong. Perhaps we hope that if we don’t say how self-centered or thoughtless we have been, others won’t take notice and scold us. Ironically, the opposite is true. Others are hesitant to forgive us if we really don’t seem to “get it.” Further, if we don’t seem to recognize all of the pain that we have caused, aren’t we likely to just hurt them again?
How do apology languages work? Have you ever tried to apologize, only to be rebuffed? It may be that you were offering a partial apology in a “language” that was foreign to your listener. The five languages of apology include:
|Apology Language #1
“I am sorry”
|List the hurtful effects of your action. Show remorse. It doesn’t count if the person is only sorry that they got caught!|
|Apology Language #2||Accepting Responsibility:
“I was wrong”
|Name your mistake and accept fault. Note that it is easier to say “You are right” than “I am wrong”, but the latter carries more weight.|
|Apology Language #3||Restitution and
“What can I do
to make it right?”
|How are they now? Is any debt owed or repayment due? How shall I make amends to you? Do they need help dusting themselves off and getting back up on their feet?|
|Apology Language #4||Repentance:
“I’ll try not to
do that again”
|Repentance- literally means turning around 180 degrees. Engage in problem-solving. Don’t make excuses.|
|Apology Language #5||Requesting
“Will you please
|Be patient in seeking forgiveness and reconciliation. They may need some time or greater clarification of your input from Apology Languages 1 – 4.|
When you know you’ve offended someone, you should act with urgency to repair the problem. Spell out what you have done wrong, how this has “put out” the other person, show concern for them, and explain what will truly be different next time. In order to give the most successful apologies, you should ask the people close to you what they most appreciate hearing in an apology. (There is an assessment profile in the book to help with this process). After you learn the apology languages of your friends, family members and co-workers, you will have the extra benefit of being able to give targeted apologies. These apologies will hit their mark and impart the full measure of your sincerity.