You’ve heard all about the five love languages but the five apology languages are one of the best-kept secrets some may not be privy to. When offering, and receiving, an apology it can sometimes take more than a simple, “I’m sorry,” and might not always be a one-size-fits-all approach.
The concept of the five love languages boils down to the type of ways that we feel the most loved which can be through receiving gifts, quality time, words of affirmation, acts of service, and physical touch. This idea is also applied to the way we want to receive apologies. In the same way, people have varying love languages, there are certain words that someone might want to hear for an apology to take root. This system was researched and developed by the creator of the love languages Gary Chapman, Ph.D., and psychologist Jennifer Thomas, Ph.D. If you want to know how to say sorry the right way, here is a breakdown of the five apology languages.
Expressing regret is simply offering an, “I’m sorry.” This apology language focuses on showing remorse for inflicting pain on another person. This essentially looks like being specific about the ways that your actions were hurtful and showing signs of genuine regret.
Someone with this apology method doesn’t care much about the excuse or reason for why you hurt them, they just want to hear you say, “I was wrong.” The focus is more on explaining what you did that was wrong and why it was wrong.
Making restitution is the third apology language and means that you will find a way to correct your wrongdoing. This is about reassuring the person you hurt that you love or care for them. Simply saying, “I was wrong,” or “I’m sorry,” wouldn’t be enough as they want to know what you plan on doing to make it right. It might also be helpful to ask specifically how you can make it up to them.
The focus of this apology language is highlighting how there will be a behavior change to ensure that you won’t let the person down again. Similar to those with the love language of acts of service, genuinely repenting is when your actions speak louder than your words. There has to be evidence that you will try not to hurt them in that way again.
Asking the question, “Will you forgive me?” puts the power back into the hands of the person who was wronged. This gives them time to process their hurt feelings and shows that you genuinely want to fix the relationship.