What’s your apology language?Oct 05, 2020
(By Eldad Ben-Moshe ✨ Reading Time: 5 minutes)
❤ Hey there Better Lifers!
What if there was a way for you to make it easier for your loved ones to forgive you?
After my post about forgiveness, people started asking me more and more about the relationship between apology and forgiveness.
So - I hear you, better lifers!
But to answer this, let me tell you a short story about what happened in 2006 (i think)
When I was studying mediation, we were doing our training on real mediation cases from the court. (yes, that was mediation, not meditation… )
One day, as we were mediating a couple that wanted to get a divorce, our teacher- one of Israel's best mediators - made a small comment that stuck with me forever.
Over the years, with all my work as a mediator, lawyer, and coach, and in my personal life as well, that comment was proven right again and again.
This is what she said:
Almost all relationship fights come from communication breakdowns.
Gary Chapman, the author of the famous book "Five Love Languages," agrees with that observation in his book "The Five Languages of Apology."
So if you want better relationships, and the better life that comes with that, you better work on your communication skills (which also include the way you listen and the way you think, not only the way you talk…)
While the best tool I know for that is the Enneagram, and all my coaching clients see first hand how life-changing it is, I want to offer here another beautiful tool to help you on this quest - Gary Chapman's 5 languages of apology.
We all make mistakes, and I always encourage practicing taking response-ability for your errors. But there are many ways of doing that, and sometimes saying "I'm sorry" just isn't enough.
One of the reasons for that is that the other person's apology language demands something else.
If that happens, not only will they not really forgive you, they will actually not even experience your apology as an apology!
In fact, this is precisely why they will not really forgive you…
an apology only counts when it's meaningful.
And the person who receives your apology will always have their judgment, or opinion, about how meaningful and authentic your apology was.
Why? Because of how minds work.
And part of that is our apology language.
If you tell me that you're sorry, but you'll say it in Chinese, I will not understand it, and I will not forgive you.
But if you'll say it in a language which I can understand, and if my heart can feel your apology is sincere… that would be a different ball game.
In other words - not all apologies are the same to all minds.
The way you apologize will make a difference when my mind decides - consciously and unconsciously - how genuine your apology was.
So what are the 5 apology languages?
And how knowing them helps you have better communication skills and a happier, better, more awakened life?
Here's a short brief of them.
See if you can find yours and that of your loved ones.
And share them with me; let's keep learning together.
Apology Language #1: Expressing Regret ("I'm sorry")
This emotional-based apology includes admitting I was wrong and being sorry about hurting the other.
If this is your apology language, it is essential for you that the other person will understand they hurt you, and that they'll say what they are sorry about.
If their apology is sincere, you will not even need compensation or an explanation of why they did what they did. It won't hurt, but it won't be necessary for your forgiveness.
And if their apology came with matching body languages such as direct eye contact and a soft touch, that will make it all even better.
Since this kind of apology does not come with excuses, using it with a person who resonates with this apology language makes it feel powerful and honest. It feels like a real attempt to rebuild the relationship.
Apology Language #2: Accepting Responsibility ("I was wrong")
If this is your apology language, it is essential for you that the other person will take full responsibility for what they've done. You want them to directly acknowledge the impact of their words and actions.
If the other person will only say "I'm sorry," even if they really mean that, it will not seem authentic or enough for you. Instead, it will feel empty and meaningless.
Notice the difference between saying "you're right" and "I was wrong" - they are not the same thing, and they do not have the same emotional effect, neither to the one that says them nor to the one that hears them.
You might notice that one of them is much easier to say than the other… ;-)
In the same manner, notice the difference between "I'm sorry you feel this way" and "I'm sorry what I said made you feel this way."
As the name of this language states ("Accepting Responsibility"), it is taking responsibility and letting go of all excuses and explanations that make all the difference to people who need you to speak this apology language.
Apology Language #3: Making Restitution ("What can I do to make this right?")
If this is your apology language, it is essential for you that the other person will make things right by you.
People of this apology language often believe that if someone makes mistakes, they need to correct them, pay for them, etc. They made a mistake, and they should deal with it.
A real apology, they'll say, comes with actions. And you'll ask them, "How can I make up for this? What can I do to make this right?" they'll know the answer…
Many times, behind all this is the need for an effort on your part so that I'll be able to trust you again.
Apology Language #4: Genuine Repentance ("I'll make sure it won't happen again")
If this is your apology language, it is essential for you that the other person will take action to make sure that what happened will not happen again.
Unless they will want to change their ways and take the necessary action, their apology will not be enough. "Actions speak louder than words" is the relevant mindset here, and a change of behavior acts as proof of the sincerity of the apology.
It is also important to name the things you will do to avoid this from happening again. Merely saying that you'll 'do the necessary things' will be too vague and too empty a statement to really hit home and sound sincere enough.
Apology Language #5: Requesting forgiveness ("Will you forgive me?")
If this is your apology language, it is essential for you that the other person will
The key here is that when I ask for your forgiveness, I'm actually giving you all the power (as far as the future of our relationship goes).
The person that asks 'will you forgive me?' is risking rejection and criticism, and that is not always easy to do. It takes vulnerability and taking the chance of hearing our judgment of me as part of your answer ('no way man, you're such an #$%@').
So what is your apology language?
Which kind of apology makes it easier for you to forgive?
What about your loved ones - can you see theirs?
Share them with me; let's keep learning together.
To your better life,
with tons of 💖
Founder, Teacher, and Coach
Better Life Awareness Center