Have you ever suffered an offense or an insult but when you confronted the person who hurt you their apology felt either insincere or that they clearly didn’t understand what they did wrong or perhaps it just felt like lip service?
I remember talking with a friend about something she did that hurt me and while I could understand that being triggered had more to do with me than her, sometimes it’s nice when someone acknowledges that their actions were hurtful.
You feel seen and appreciated. You feel like this person wants to protect you because they value you. And if they found out that they did hurt you, they would be sincere about their remorse.
Unfortunately that wasn’t the case because the apology I got felt more defensive. There was no remorse for the act but she was sad that I felt bad about what happened.
I left that conversation feeling dismissed and that my boundaries didn’t matter. For me, sorry wasn’t enough. I felt no real remorse coming from my friend because they didn’t acknowledge what they did at all.
So when I learnt that there were five apology languages (which was written by Gary Chapman who also wrote about the five love languages), I dove into it and found exactly what I tend to need in an apology.
If you speak this apology language, you don’t need an explanation or for the other person to make amends. The most important thing to you is that the other person acknowledges that they were guilty of an offense and that they genuinely feel bad about it.
It isn’t so much about looking for who to blame because the person who offended you knows and acknowledges that they messed up. Their apology is best received when it is calmly said with sincerity and eye contact.
People make mistakes but when people say they are sorry but do not own up to their mistakes, this will lead some to doubt the sincerity of the apology.
After all, if you aren’t able to see how your shortcoming or error led to your partner, friend or colleague getting hurt, the people who seek this type of apology will definitely think twice about your apology and about you as a person.
Just because you were wrong doesn’t mean that you are inherently bad. So when you make a mistake, it doesn’t mean you are condemned to be a mistake yourself. Acknowledging that you were wrong goes a long way in repairing a relationship.
This apology language is paired with the five love languages (Words of Affirmation, Physical Touch, Quality Time, Acts of Service and Receiving Gifts) because again, saying sorry isn’t enough. For some, you need to demonstrate how sorry you are by some act of restoration.
By giving love in the way the person you offended loves to be loved, they will feel like justice is served and that you were actually sorry for the way you hurt them.
On a personal note, I found myself choosing this option more for business relationships than personal ones, which I suppose highlights that an apology in one type of relationship may not matter in another type of relationship.
Sometimes the only way to really show that you’re sorry is to make it right and to restore things to how they used to be.
I have to admit, this apology language seemed very similar to Expressing Regret. But it is all about how remorse is expressed and for some they will appreciate hearing that the offender will not do it again versus hearing “I sincerely apologize.”
And that is what genuine repenting is all about; the expressing that this offense will not happen a second time.
In expressing regret, one acknowledges what one did wrong in word and emotion. Genuine repenting on the other hand is about acknowledging what one did wrong in actions.
For example, if someone said something rude or did something inappropriate to you, genuinely repenting would be if the other person promised to do their best to not do it again.
If you speak this apology language, you want the person who offended you to ask that you drop your resentment for them and their action because they genuinely care about you and the relationship.
Yes, you may have already dropped your resentment and forgiven them. But it is an indication that the person who hurt you sees that they messed up and are willing to come to you in humility, asking for another chance to do things better.
When I did the quiz to find out my apology language, I found that mine was to express regret.
I found that in most of the various types of relationships that the quiz covered, expressing regret is how I would apologize to someone and how I would like to be apologized to.
It illuminated why some apologies I’ve received in my life felt flat or simply insincere and why others meant the world to me. So if I find myself in a situation where someone is apologizing, this is what I know I need.
And if I find myself in a situation where I’m doing the apologizing, I will keep these five apology languages in mind so that I can put the other person at ease.
You can find the test here.