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The 5 Apology Languages

Building Relationships / Dr. Gary Chapman
The Truth Network Radio
August 13, 2022 1:00 am

The 5 Apology Languages

Building Relationships / Dr. Gary Chapman

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August 13, 2022 1:00 am

“I said I was sorry, what more do you want?” Have you ever heard that or said that? On this edition of Building Relationships with Dr. Gary Chapman, Dr. Jennifer Thomas describes the five apology languages and what may be holding you back from making things right with someone you love. Hear more about the secret path to emotional healing on this summer best-of Building Relationships with Dr. Gary Chapman.

Featured resource: The 5 Apology Languages: The Secret to Healthy Relationships

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Today on Building Relationships with Dr. Gary Chapman.

We'll be able to build bridges back to others so that we can really enjoy fellowship again. Do you need to say you're sorry to someone? Have you apologized and been told you didn't? Stay with us as Dr. Jennifer Thomas helps us unpack the five apology languages today on Building Relationships with Dr. Gary Chapman. This is a summer best-of broadcast from January of this year when we invited Dr. Chapman and Dr. Thomas to talk about that book about apology languages. Love the subtitle, The Secret to Healthy Relationships. Dr. Chapman, let me start with you.

Is that true? Is communicating an effective apology from the heart the secret to a healthy relationship? Well, Chris, I think it's one of the real steps in the right direction. You'd expect me to say the first step is love, right? Learning to speak their love language. But in reality, in a lot of relationships, apology is the first step because they built a wall between the two of them. And it's hard to speak love when you've got a wall between you.

And the wall only comes down when we apologize and forgive. So I do believe this is an essential to a long-term healthy relationship, whether it's marriage or whether it's parent-child or just close friendships. So I am really excited about talking today to my co-author, Dr. Jennifer Thomas, about this topic.

I'm excited about it, too. And as you listen today to the broadcast, maybe there's somebody that you need to apologize to or someone who has wronged you and they've said they're sorry, but you know that they haven't. Really, it's not from the heart. I want you to hear what Dr. Jennifer Thomas has to say. She is a motivational speaker specializing in "The 5 Love Languages" and communication. She's a business consultant and psychologist. She is co-author with Dr. Gary Chapman of our featured resource today, the five apology languages.

She has a doctoral degree in clinical psychology from the University of Maryland, as well as a BA in psychology and religion from the University of Virginia. Find out more at Well, Jennifer, welcome back to Building Relationships. Well, thank you.

It's always great to be with you. Tell us the story of how you first saw a parallel between the love languages and giving an apology. I remember the day you came to my office with this idea because this book really grew out of your idea.

But tell us about that. I would say it goes all the way back to an argument that happened. Part of me wishes I could say it was in my counseling office, someone else was having the argument. But the truth of it is it was a disagreement that my husband, JT, and I were having. It was a layered disagreement where people can probably relate to this feeling that it's not just about what we're arguing about.

There were different levels and layers of meaning to what was going on. At that time, that day, I was at fault. So I quickly said, I'm sorry.

But a little bit later on, I could tell JT was still upset. So I asked what was wrong. He said, I just wish you would apologize. I was then offended because I had said I was sorry and he hadn't received my apology. So I got curious and I asked him, well, what did you want for me to say? Because I did say I was sorry.

And he knew right away what it was. And I want to invite you and your listeners to stop and think, what might he have been waiting to see or to hear from her? Because the answer will be an important part of learning what your apology script is. And in JT's case, he wanted to hear me say I was wrong. And so I said, OK, I was wrong today and in this situation. And I went on, said a few more things along those lines. And I found that it really cleared the air between us in a way that just saying I'm sorry hadn't done at all. And so I made a note to myself, wow, I need to remember this for next time because I don't want to be stuck with him again.

This is a new understanding I've got. And as a psychologist, I was already using "The 5 Love Languages" as I worked with couples and individuals to help them to optimize their relationships. And so it occurred to me that we have scripts for what we want to hear in our apologies, very much like we have a language in which we want to receive love or a way in which we feel appreciated. And so that was when I came into you and we talked it over and we found interestingly that there were five different things that people might want in an apology. Although, as we say, we promised we were not looking for five. That was just an interesting coincidence.

But I really like five. Well, you know, Jennifer, I remember that day you came to my office and I'll be honest with you, when my assistant said that you had called for an appointment, I thought, oh, no, is she having problems? But when you got there, you didn't come with a problem. You came with an idea. And you said to me, you know, I think that people have apology languages just like they have love languages.

And I said, what do you mean by that? And you said, well, I think what one person considers to be a sincere apology is not what another person considers to be a sincere apology. As soon as you said it, I resonated with it because they've been in my office through the years arguing about whether or not one of them apologized. She would say, well, I would forgive him if he would just apologize. And he would say, I did apologize. And she'd say, you didn't apologize. I told you I was sorry.

Well, that's not an apology. So as soon as you said it, I hadn't thought about it before. As soon as you said it, I resonated with it. So it's been a good journey working on this book with you.

And so I'm excited about it. So, you know, let's think a little bit about our world today. We live in an angry and divided world, you know, where people are often quick to demean one another and families have splits over politics and forgiveness seems like a foreign concept almost. How does our culture begin to find its way back to some sense of recognizing and taking responsibility for our failures?

That's right. Well, I hope that we can be a voice of hope for people that we can say where there's brokenness in your relationships, if you'll continue to show love and to apologize where you've got barriers between yourself and the other person, that it is possible to mend these breaches that we have between us and other people. And a couple of steps that people can take are to try not to use polarizing language, like be careful not to talk about us versus them or to vilify other people or groups of people. I encourage listeners to be really careful about not name calling along those lines or putting down our leaders as, you know, they're this and such or that.

And so I don't want to use those bad names. But when we do that, we're really minimizing ourselves. We're better than that. And my hope is that as we elevate each other, that we'll be able to find common ground. And then bringing that down to the level of our own relationships, whether it's in our home or in our offices or in our friendships, I hope that as we try to listen more than we talk and listen with respect and restate what others are saying, that we will be able to build bridges back to others so that we can really enjoy fellowship again. Well, no question about it.

We desperately need that, for sure. Let's talk a little bit about marriage. Have you seen this concept of understanding apology and giving apologies change marriage relationships?

I have, absolutely. First, it changed my marriage, really. It took my communication with JT to the next level where inevitably, if we're married, we're going to offend each other. And we know that that creates a barrier between us and the other person.

The question is, how are we going to get those barriers out of the way? And so as I've worked with couples, what I've said to them over and over is if you've been offering apologies that haven't worked, it's probably that you're offering an apology with a script that comes from your childhood. It's either what your parents or your teachers required of you in order for you to get out of the doghouse. But the challenge is that the other person has probably a different script. So it's important to learn what they need to hear. And that's our challenge is to get out of our own shoes and put ourselves in the other person's shoes.

Just as with the love languages, we need to speak the other person's language. And as we do that, I've seen real softening. It can be like a ball that rolls downhill and picks up speed where sometimes my mouth is hanging open as I listen to the softening that can come where couples have been very hard and have said hurtful things to each other.

For example, I remember just briefly one couple that had a lot of hurt in their relationship. After learning what each one's apology language was, they shared this word. The husband said, maybe one of my character flaws is being closed minded and thinking I'm right and how I see things. I might really think that the way you see an issue is crazy, but I want to change that. I apologize for the times that I've acted like my judgment is better than yours and I'm committed to making a change so that you feel like the equal partner that you are. And then he went on further and he said, and I recognize in some areas we're not equal.

You're actually better than I am at a lot of things. And I want to honor you in that. So the whole tone of the relationship changed. This is Building Relationships with Dr. Gary Chapman, author of the New York Times bestseller, "The 5 Love Languages" . If you'd like to hear a past program, take an assessment of your love language or see our featured resource today.

Go to five love languages dot com. That resource is the book by our host, Dr. Gary Chapman and our guest, Dr. Jennifer Thomas. It's titled The Five Apology Languages, The Secret to Healthy Relationships.

Gary, I want to ask you the same question that you asked Dr. Thomas a minute ago, but let me get this correct. The goal here with the love languages and the apology languages is not to manipulate. It's not to control the conversation or the relationship. It's to communicate what is really deep down inside. That's the end goal, right? Right. We want the other person to really sense the sincerity of our love or our apology. But in order to do that, we have to speak it in their language. Otherwise, they don't get it emotionally.

So yeah, that's the whole point. Have you seen that same thing that Dr. Thomas was talking about, that an apology can transform a relationship? I have, Chris.

I've seen it many times through the years. Just after we discussed this and came up with this concept that in my office often, they would both say, well, we apologize, but they won't forgive me. And the other person says, well, it's hard to forgive when you don't think they're sincere. But we judge sincerity based on what they're saying and how they say it. And so when they get this concept, it's a whole different ballpark, because they're saying now, oh, okay, I'm beginning to get it. That just like I have to speak her love language, if I want her to feel loved, I have to speak her apology language if I want her to feel my sincerity.

And I say, you got it. So yeah, it's a very helpful concept. Really, I think it's as fully helpful as the love language concept is, because I've said for many years, there's two essentials to long-term healthy relationships.

One is meeting the emotional need for love. And the other is dealing effectively with our failures. And that involves apologizing and trying to communicate it in a sincere way so that it makes it easier for the other person to forgive us. So Jennifer, it sounds like then the apology itself is not hard to give. It's actually easy to say, I'm sorry. What's hard is to communicate an effective apology that the other person hears and that you fully communicate, right?

That's right. And I think we reflexively speak apologies in the language that worked for our parents as we were growing up. And so it's sort of a knee-jerk reaction for me to say, oh, I'm sorry. But the reason JT didn't really care for that is because I can be sorry without taking any responsibility. And so for him, it was actually kind of grating. And there are other things that we do to apologize that can backfire.

It can really annoy people. Like I remember one wife who said, my husband will not speak words of apology, but I know he's admitting some wrongdoing when he sends me flowers after an argument. Her reaction is she wants to throw them in the trash because he won't say the words. But as we talked, she softened somewhat.

Part of me wanted to save these beautiful flowers. I convinced her that she could translate his action as a means of admitting some wrongdoing, even though he was having trouble saying the actual words. So she meets him halfway.

She hopes he'll change, but she no longer throws away his flowers. Well, Jennifer, you know, when you came with that idea, and I remember one of the things I said was, I like the idea, but we've got to do some research and make sure this is really true. So we asked thousands of people two questions. Number one, you know, what do you typically say when you apologize? And the second question, what do you want to hear people say when they're apologizing to you? And that's how we came up with the five.

So let's talk about the five. Just briefly give us a little description of each of these five ways to apologize. Okay, so the first one is expressing regret or saying I'm sorry.

And that's the one that comes naturally to me. And that is just letting the person know that in your heart you're really sad about what you've done or the effect it's had on them. So this one is really talking about emotions and, you know, regretting that you've inconvenienced the other person or you've upset them or worried them in some way. The second one is accepting responsibility or saying I was wrong.

And this one is very different. This is more like if you were in a court of law, you're submitting a guilty plea. And so here you are accepting responsibility and you're saying I'm not going to try to blame you for this. I'm not going to deny what I did. I'm not going to excuse myself. The other person may be bracing themselves for the word but. And so it's important to refrain from saying but because that will turn your words into a non-apology. But really let your acceptance of responsibility stand on its own. Now those two are both all about words. But some people will say talk is cheap. I'm looking for action.

And our next two move more into action. One is making restitution or making amends. So you would ask the question, how can I make this right?

Or you could actually suggest something. And we often see this like in customer service if we've had bad service in a restaurant, a good server will say, well, here's a free appetizer or we'd like to bring you a free dessert. They're making amends to us as a way of underscoring their sincerity and removing that barrier that was created when the problem happened. The next one is having a plan for change. And so it's letting them know that you're going to take some steps to prevent a reoccurrence. And this one is really moving towards the future where we're saying I value you and I value the relationship and I don't want to end up in this bad place again. And so I'm going to put some guardrails in place so that this cannot possibly happen again. And it could be something as simple as running late repeatedly for a meeting or a date or something. And so right in front of the person, you would say, you know, other words of apology, but be sure if this is their apology language that you include, I want to take a step to prevent this from happening again.

I'm going to go ahead right now in front of you and set an alarm and have it be a repeating alarm if it's a repeating event. And then our final and fifth apology language is actually a question, and that is the request for forgiveness. We found that some people really want to be asked, can you find it in your heart to forgive me? And this one is tricky because it didn't occur to me as something that people really say for everyday apologies. But we found that even for run of the mill offenses, for some people, you're only getting warmed up until you've asked for their forgiveness. And that's really what shows them your sincerity. So if you work closely with one of these people or if you're married to or in a relationship with one of these people, it's important for you to learn that. So that when you apologize, you can end with that question and then they'll understand that you really are sincere, hopefully.

And another part of this is that it's important to give them time. So you can't demand that they forgive you on the spot, but you can let them know that you hope to rebuild their trust so that they will be able to forgive you. I have to be honest, this last one, actually asking for forgiveness, requesting forgiveness, that was not on my radar when we started the research. I just thought, well, if I'm apologizing in any manner, don't they know I want to be forgiven?

Why would I be apologizing? But we did find that there are people. I remember the story you told about your mother and a co-worker. I don't know if you remember that, but I remember it. Tell that story.

Yes. And my mom had a co-worker who let her know that she was offended. I can't remember if it was a male or female co-worker, but let's just say it was a male. And he let her know that he was feeling miffed. And my mom said, oh, you know, I apologize.

I don't want there to be anything between us. And I remember what happened. And I remember that, you know, the classic phrase, I said I was sorry.

What else can I do to help with this? And the other person said, well, I just wish you would ask me to forgive you. And so my mom said, OK, would you please forgive me for that? And she was quite willing to do that. It was something that she really did want to have resolved, but she didn't realize that for him, those were the magic words.

And so she stored that away and used that going forward to help underscore her sincerity with that person. And so as I've taken this concept into the workplace with different people as a consultant, what I've done is had a whole team take our apology language profile. And then when we get those results, we don't want them to end up in someone's office drawer. We like to post them.

In the old days, we put them up in the break room. Now that everybody is on Zoom or virtual, then you could also keep it handy right near your laptop screen so that when you need to apologize to someone, you can use all of the apology languages if you have time or if it's a serious or repeated offense. But be sure that you don't leave out the one that is most important to each of those people. The whole thing is communicating sincerity, right? And we can be sincere, but they don't always read it as being sincere because they have a different idea of what a sincere apology looks like. So what is the fundamental key if you're apologizing? What's the fundamental key of communicating that sincerity?

You're right. Sincerity is the most important thing. That's really what we're asking ourselves is, do they really mean that or are they just saying that to try to get this conflict behind them? And we don't want that kind of apology. And so, you know, really what it comes down to is, can I trust your heart and am I safe with you?

Are you going to hurt me again like this or are you going to talk badly about me to other people? There's a lot involved when we get offended and trust is very complicated. And another thing that I want to underscore is that our actions really do matter. It's not just using the words, you know, I'm sorry or I was wrong. But as we listen to people's apologies and if we want to know if they're sincere, well, we can't judge their hearts. Only God can do that. But we can watch their actions and see if they really are changing.

Yeah. Let's just talk a bit about that because expressing regret with the words, I'm sorry. And as you indicated earlier, you tell them what you're sorry for and you don't add the but. But how does that differ from expressing, you know, I don't want this to happen again.

You know, I want to get a plan so this won't happen again. Those two are pretty different, right? Right.

It's true. And both may be really helpful parts of an apology. So you could start with one and move to the other as you're expressing the regret. Another thing I want to add with that is it's very important to be specific about what you regret and your part and what went wrong. So we don't want to just use generalities like there are a lot of things with apologies that just they rub us the wrong way. Like when people say, oh, I'm sorry about what happened.

No, we want active language. I regret what I did. So use I words and don't just say what I did. Go on to explain. I made this mistake and I made this choice and I really regret that.

And I wish I had made this other choice. So being specific will underscore your sincerity. But don't stop there. For many people, it's going to be important that you go in and correct the problem. And making amends is really about making the person whole in the present. That is bringing them back to the place where they were before you came along and created the problem. And then the next apology language, that plan for change, it's about making things right going forward.

So preventing that from happening. And I think both are really important parts of showing how important it is to us that we not let the other person down again. I had a couple in my office some time ago and she said, he's probably said I'm sorry a thousand times, but it doesn't make any effort to change the behavior.

It just keeps doing the same old things over and over. She was telling clearly what she considered to be a sincere apology. If he doesn't express the desire to make change and then follow through with making changes, she can't see it as being sincere. When you picture that, you get why she would feel that way.

Exactly. Thanks for joining us today for Building Relationships with Dr. Gary Chapman. And thanks for telling a friend about the program too. If you go to, you'll find some great resources, including today's featured resource by Dr. Chapman and our guest, Dr. Jennifer Thomas. Their book is titled The Five Apology Languages, The Secret to Healthy Relationships.

Find out more at OK, I have held on to this for this whole program and I have to get you to to answer this, Dr. Chapman, Dr. Thomas. I was on a phone conversation with someone. This was we were trying to buy a house at the time. And this was a real estate person who was at the top of the company talking to me about a problem that was going on. And he said to me over the phone, I happened to be outside at the time.

And so the neighbors could hear this. He said to me, well, I'm sorry you feel that way. And when he said that, he said it as an apology. He really believed that he was apologizing. And I said, whoa, whoa, whoa.

And he kept going. I said, time out, time out, time out. Do you know what happened when you inside of me, when you just said, I'm sorry you feel that way?

And I had to tell him I've read this book by Dr. Chapman. What is what is wrong with saying I'm sorry you feel that way? Yeah, well, I'll lead off by saying I think it puts the blame on you. And it's it's akin to saying I'm sorry you're too sensitive or I'm sorry you're wrong. Neither of which none of those are apologies or non apologies. And they're really going to just add fuel to the fire of your anger and frustration, which I imagine was already high in this situation when you're talking about finances and something as important as a house.

You really want to have top notch customer service. And I, I would have had a hard time not going nuclear on that guy. Well, well, I, I don't. And then you would have had to apologize. Well, exactly. I probably should call him up and apologize because he's given me a really good question. Gary, do you agree with Jennifer?

I do. Yeah, I think many times the situation like that, the person hasn't thought about it. Hasn't thought through apology very well. And they're just trying to get over the situation. And they are sorry that you that you felt that way or you took it that way because it may be in their mind, that's not what they meant. You know, but and I know, Jennifer, you have listened to a lot of public apologies when people, you know, everybody knows what they've done. And sometimes they do that. They say, if anyone was offended by what I said, I'm deeply sorry. And again, what you said is true. They're blaming people for being so thin skinned that you would get hurt by what I said or did. So, yeah.

So let me flip it around then on the other side. Is there a sense that we can be too thin skinned with this, that we can we cannot see the heart of the other person who's really trying to apologize and can't say the right words? Can we give them, in other words, a little bit of grace, Jennifer?

I think it's helpful if you can do that. If we remember the woman who was offended when her husband would try to make up by giving her flowers. Remember that we can give partial credit when someone offers an apology in their apology language, not in ours. We can say, oh, they're doing that thing again and I wouldn't have given a penny for that apology until I learned about the apology languages. But now I can know while that's not like a quarter or a 50 cent piece apology for me, I think I can at least recognize that it's an attempt to apologize.

And so I'm going to give that like a dime's worth of credit. And then you can decide if you want to have a conversation with the person and that might be a good thing to do to say, you know, I recognize that you're really trying here. And yet there's still something that I'd like to see or hear. Would it be OK if I share that with you?

So get permission to share. And the nice thing about that is if they say yes and hopefully they'll actually be listening. And then you can let them know what what would really show their sincerity or really speak to your heart. I think that's one of the values of understanding that there are these five basic ways that in our culture people tend to apologize. It's just like when you know that there's five love languages and maybe in a marriage, maybe your spouse is not speaking your love language.

Maybe they are vacuuming floors and washing dishes and walking the dog and all this stuff. And what you really want is quality time. But now that you know that there's five love languages, you can give them credit for what they're doing, you know, because, well, they're at least they're speaking one language.

It's probably their language. And you can still request, you know, quality time. And that's what I hear you saying, Jennifer, that we give them credit for an attempt to apologize. And then we share with each other, especially in a marriage and a close relationship, we share that we do have different ideas on what it means to apologize. And then we learn how to speak the other person's language.

Here's one I want to share with you, Jennifer, because I've heard this so many times. What if I don't think I'm wrong and the other person want me to say I was wrong and I don't think I was wrong? What am I supposed to do?

Right. Well, the first thing that I would say is don't apologize just to get some peace, because one of my requirements is that every apology should be a sincere apology. So I say wait before you reflexively apologize just to kind of get their feathers unruffled. And instead, I would have a conversation with them. And in that conversation, I would focus on a couple of things. One is restating what they're saying. So you make sure you understand what their complaint or concern is. And sometimes if people are repeating something and you've heard it before, that's a sign that they're not sure you get it. And so simply saying it back to them and having them say yes, that really is what my frustration is, can be helpful in validating them and helping to calm down the situation. And then I would let them know that I might say, well, you know, I see where you're coming from and I see things somewhat differently.

May I share that with you? And so we're moving into a conversation instead of an easy apology, get out of there. But really, there's a cost to be paid, and that is if you give apologies that are not sincere, they're going to sense it and be mad. And you may be mad at yourself for selling yourself out and apologizing again when you didn't have to. So I think it's really important to hold the line there and talk it through with the person. Yeah, I fully agree with that.

You know, I've often said to men, because it seems to me men sometimes have more, and this is my perception, okay, guys? Have more difficulty saying I'm wrong. And we have the idea that to say I'm wrong means I was morally wrong. You know, I did something sinful. And don't get hung up on that.

And here's the illustration I give. I don't know if I've shared this one with you, Jennifer. But I was out of town for a week or so, well, maybe just a week, and my wife had one of our chairs reupholstered. And I came home and saw it, and the next morning I was sitting in that chair, and she said to me, Honey, how do you like the new cover? And without thinking, I said, Well, honey, I like it, but to be honest with you, I like the old cover better. And she broke into tears. And she said, I can't believe you don't like it. I've been spending two months going all over town to get the right material, and now you don't like it? What I said was not a sin, okay? It was just stupid. So I said, Honey, I'm so sorry.

I spoke all five languages to her. I'm so sorry I was wrong. And thankfully she forgave me. But yeah, I just like to say to guys, it doesn't have to be morally wrong. If what you did or didn't do has hurt the relationship, you know, hurt the other person, thus hurt the relationship, be willing to admit I was wrong. I should not have done that. So the wrong thing that you did there was not to have an opinion about the cover. It was you were insensitive to all the effort that she had put into this, and you didn't even count that into the response, right? Absolutely.

That's why I say it was stupid. I didn't think before I spoke. This is Building Relationships with Dr. Gary Chapman, author of The New York Times bestseller, "The 5 Love Languages" . Our featured resource today is the book The Five Apology Languages, The Secret to Healthy Relationships.

It's written by Dr. Jennifer Thomas, along with Dr. Gary Chapman, and you can find out more at Well, Jennifer, how do we identify? We've been talking about that we each have an idea of what a sincere apology is. We're calling it our apology language. How do we identify what our preferred apology language is? Well, there are a couple of ways you can do it. If you're a by the book person, then you can take our apology language profile.

It's free at, and you can take our pencil and paper test and get a number that shows you how these five line up for you. But if you're more of a fly by the seat of your pants, casual conversation type of person, then you might just want to sit down with the people that you interact with most often and ask them a couple of questions. And chances are that their answers will give you a pretty good idea of what they want to hear an apology. So things you want to ask would be when you hear a really good apology, what makes it good? And when you hear an apology that really stinks, what's so bad about it?

What's missing? And I have found that to be very illuminating. And I actually did this with my family before our book released. I sat down when we were at the beach with a whole extended family and I said, if you find it really ironic that I have a book coming out on apologies because maybe you've wanted an apology for me and I have no idea. Let's just clear the air now. And so they're all kind of looking at me.

I had them lined up like crows on the line. And I said, let's just have a conversation about what do you need to hear in apologies and what do you need to hear from me? And it was a really interesting dinner conversation. And I would encourage listeners to do that because I think apologies are kind of like the wallpaper of life. We don't pay much attention to them, but they're an essential tool for removing the conflicts that we have and for being able to move to the next level in our relationships at work and at home. And I found as I did that with my family that it did open some nice avenues for us to discuss things further. And I was relieved.

I didn't have any big landmines that I stepped on. My guess is that there are very few families that have ever had a conversation about apologies and what sincere apologies look like. So I mean, that's a great idea. Now, what if the person, however, doesn't want to apologize? Yeah, that's tricky. You know, there are a lot of personality factors that may be at play here. Some people grew up in a family where they felt shame.

So the message there, it may have been even more extreme than what you did was bad, but you are bad. And so what I've seen in my consulting and counseling work is that those people, instead of admitting their mistakes, they'll try to cover them. But you know, we're not very good at covering our mistakes.

People know, and so it can really lead to some big conflicts. And so I encourage people to practice the skill of apologizing. It can be learned.

It's like a muscle that just needs to be worked. And there's also encouragement for us in scriptures to do this. Like we could look at James 5 16. It says right there, Therefore, confess your sins to each other so that you may be healed. And what I would include in that is so that your relationships may be healed so that you as a couple or even a work team or friendship will not be broken, but will be able to move down the road together with understanding, compassion, warmth, and the hope that comes with really feeling like they understand me and when they don't, we can work it through.

Yeah. I've had men say to me, my father told me, real men don't apologize. And I've said to those guys, I said, you know, your dad was probably a good guy.

He probably did the best he knew to do. I said, but your dad had bad information. Real men do apologize. In fact, if you want to have healthy relationships, you have to learn to apologize.

And I say that for one reason. None of us are perfect. And we don't have to be perfect to have good relationships, but we do have to deal with our failures. Here's another area I want to discuss. What about the person who's offended you, but they don't come and offer you an apology? What do you do, the one who's been offended?

Yeah. This, I think, is really common because if you think about it, it's most front of mind for us when we've gotten hurt or when we've been offended, right? But the other person may have just moved merely on through their day and had no idea that we were left with this frustration or bitterness or anger. And so then we're wondering, well, should I tell them or how's that going to go?

If I do, what are the repercussions? But I would invite a person who's thinking about confronting someone who has offended you to halt and to first ask yourself this question. Is there any chance that they would say the same thing about me?

Like, do I possibly have a spec and log problem? And when I say that, I'm referring to Matthew 7 and Luke 6, where it talks about don't take the spec out of the other person's eye until you've taken the log out of your own. So we do need to inspect ourselves and see if the same could be said of us. And then if we pass that hurdle, then I would suggest going to the other person and having a conversation. Maybe saying, I'd like to circle back to something that hasn't sat well with me.

A gentle way to do that might be to lead in by checking on the person, like saying, I want to check in and see if you're doing okay because you usually do this or you usually are able to listen to me or you're very patient. But I noticed yesterday that and then describe the actual behavior that you saw and give them a chance to tell you, oh, my goodness, I was not myself yesterday and let me tell you what's going on. Now, we don't want it to be an excuse, but if there is a real reason, that might be a helpful way instead of coming to the person saying, I'm so mad at you, I need you to apologize right now.

That's going to have a very different outcome. And then my last piece of advice on this is that anger scares people and makes them ahead for the hills. And sadness can often express the same feeling where you could let the person know, I'm really sad or was disappointed about how things went down yesterday and I'd like to talk it through with you. Sometimes letting them know that you have regret or concern about what happened is more palatable for the listener and they may respond by giving you an apology or they may not. But it could open the doorway to that and to you being able to be reconciled with the person. And the worst thing we could do is just let it smolder inside of us, right?

That's right. You need to clear the air if it bothers you that much. But I do believe in giving people a good listening to and not jumping in with what I need, but trying to lead off with what was going on. If it wasn't typical, then say, that just wasn't typical.

What's the situation? Because it really didn't sit well with me. And if they really value you and the relationship, I imagine that that would lead to an apology where one is too.

Yes. Well, Jennifer, we've talked a lot about apology. In the book, we also deal with the response to an apology, which is the biblical response is forgiveness. What does forgiveness mean and maybe what does it not mean?

This is a really important concept. And what we know is that forgiveness means that the debt has been erased. So I'm going to accept you back into my life if I forgive you, and I'm going to try to rebuild our trust and see if we can reconcile going forward. So forgiveness is really a gift. It's something that cannot be demanded. And apologies open the doorway for that forgiveness to happen.

But I will say there's no guarantee. Good people offer good apologies all the time. And then they come to me and they say, I've tried everything. It's just not working. What else can I do? And my hope, our hope is that in learning about the apology languages, people can say, oh, I've got one more tool in my belt than I had before I listened to this program or read this book. There's something else I can try to do. I can try to connect with what they really need to see or hear.

And I found for a lot of people that makes all the difference. Well, obviously, there's much, much more in the book, both about the apology languages and also about forgiveness. So I do hope that our listeners will get the book for themselves and maybe as a family, as you suggested earlier, discuss this whole concept of apologizing and forgiving because it's a central part of having good relationships. So thank you for being with us today and keep up the good work in your counseling and consulting. I really appreciate what you're doing. Well, thank you for having me. It's great to be with you and your team again today. If nothing else, Jennifer, in this program, we have made it sure that no one's going to say, I'm sorry you feel that way. It will be worth it. Right?

Amen. If you want to know more about this concept of speaking a meaningful apology, go to There you'll discover more about the book, The Five Apology Languages, The Secret to Healthy Relationships, written by Dr. Jennifer Thomas and Dr. Gary Chapman.

Again, you can find out more at And coming up next week, it was one of our most popular broadcasts of the entire year. When is enough enough? If you're in an abusive relationship, don't miss the conversation with Dr. David Clark in one week. Big thank you to our production team, Steve Wick and Janice Backing, Building Relationships with Dr. Gary Chapman's production of Moody Radio in Chicago in association with Moody Publishers, a ministry of Moody Bible Institute. Thanks a lot for listening.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-03-12 10:11:30 / 2023-03-12 10:28:46 / 17

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