The Five Languages Of Apology & Why They Make Apologies More Meaningful

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five languages of apology
Self

We’ve all been there: you make a mistake and now it’s time to own up to it.

Unfortunately, it's the owning up to it that's the hard part. Apologizing can be really difficult for people, but understanding the five languages of apology can help.

It’s hard to figure out how to apologize for your mistakes, especially when you hurt someone close to you. I know I feel physically sick if I hurt one of my friend’s feelings and I don’t feel better until we’ve cleared the air.

According to Dr. Gary Chapman (yes, the same guy who developed the five love languages), people respond to apologies differently.

Some people need the words physically said while others are fine with never mentioning it again.

It is important to learn someone’s language of apology so you can communicate effectively with them and express your regret.

The Five Languages of Apology

RELATED: How To Apologize Effectively & With Sincerity

According to Chapman, there are five languages of apology, but each of us has one primary language we respond best to and feel is the sincerest.

Here is how to apologize effectively using the five languages of apology.

1. Expressing regret

This is the most common way to think of an apology. 

It can be hard to move on if the words “I’m sorry” are never actually spoken. This is all about one person acknowledging the hurt they caused another; the focus is less on how you can make up for what you’ve done and more on understanding that you did something wrong and feel bad about it.

This language is very common and most people, even if it’s not their primary language, like to hear those key words.

Expressing your regret is an important way to find forgiveness if this is someone’s language.

2. Accepting responsibility

Accepting responsibility can be very hard to do. This language is all about accepting that you messed up without trying to explain yourself or give excuses as to why your actions were justified.

People with this apology language will feel the sincerity of an apology if you own up to exactly what you did wrong (in as much detail as possible) without any additional comments.

We all have our side of the story, but it’s not always the time to express it. Simply owning up to what you did is the best move here.

RELATED: If Someone's Apologies Start With Any Of These 12 Phrases, They're Not Being Sincere

3. Making restitution

This apology language requires a little bit more effort than some; people with this language need to know that you still love them, even if you said or did something to hurt them.

Making up for whatever was done by showing a little extra love (maybe using their love language) is key for forgiveness.

Some people fall into the belief that if you really cared about them, you wouldn’t have done something to hurt them in the first place. It may take some convincing to show you do care, but making restitution is important for them to understand nothing has changed.

4. Genuinely repenting

Genuinely repenting is all about the next step. People with this language don’t just want a simple “I’m sorry,” they want actions.

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Apologizing without any desire to change or not repeat the mistake is worthless to them. They want to hear you say how and why you will make sure this doesn’t happen again.

A plan for how you will work on yourself will reassure them and help them realize you’re sincerely sorry.

5. Requesting forgiveness  

This language is all about giving the person space and time to decide if they really forgive you.

Requesting forgiveness instead of demanding it puts the power and decision in their hands, which is important for them.

They need to know you respect their feelings and are willing to wait for them to decide when they are ready to move forward. It shows them that you’re willing to put yourself on the line and be rejected if they choose to not move forward. 

Forgiveness means more when it is asked for instead of demanded; if forgiveness is forced on someone before they are ready, it’s not as meaningful as when it’s given freely.

Hopefully, these apology languages will help you communicate better with your friends and family.

A sincere apology looks different to everyone, and it’s important to respect that each person has a primary language that they feel is most sincere. Good luck!

RELATED: How Each Zodiac Sign Apologizes When They Screw Up Bad

Erin Watson is an Editorial Intern. Her main focuses are relationships, horoscopes, and entertainment.