Tuesday, October, 2, 2018 | 10:30 AM | by Munholland
‘Apology accepted’ are two beautiful words that release our guilt and set relationships back on the right track. However, sometimes our apologies are not accepted. Why do you think that is? Perhaps there is more to an apology than simply saying ‘I’m sorry.’ As a kid I was taught to say, ‘I’m sorry’. When I had to apologize to my brothers, I usually had a sarcastic tone of voice with the added rolling of the eyes. That apology was not very well received! So, what does it take to make a good apology--one that someone can accept? Gary Chapman, author of The Five Love Languages, wrote about the art of apology in The Five Languages of Apology. Perhaps implementing these five responses will help you make a better apology:
First, express regret – not that you got caught and have to make the apology – but for the hurt, inconvenience, or relational disruption you caused. When we voice our concern about the damage done, the offended person can begin to hear what you have to say; you can then move forward.
Second, take responsibility for what you did wrong. Stay away from the blame game and the ‘but you…’ You can only control and change your part of the problem. The other person knows that the problem can be resolved when you take responsibility.
Third, make restitution. Restore what was damaged and then some. People want more than words. They want to be made whole. It isn’t enough to say you are sorry for breaking the window, you must replace it. This is also true for any personal damage including hurting someone’s reputation. No one else should pay for your mistakes.
Fourth, change your ways. When we apologize again and again, the apology wears thin! People you have hurt want to see changed behavior. While this is perhaps the hardest part of apologizing, it is critical. When we know that our behaviors are damaging, it is incumbent to make changes. Fortunately, those who we have hurt usually care enough about making the relationship healthy that they will help hold you accountable in a loving way. This part of apology requires courage, determination, trust, and intentionality. The payoff will be worth it.
Finally, we need to request forgiveness. When we sin against someone through our language or actions, something much deeper is happening. We are hurting their spirits. It is hard to say, ‘I have sinned against you’ because it highlights the severity of the offense. Sin results in alienation, inner turmoil, and damaged relationships. The only solution is forgiveness. Asking for and giving forgiveness is the deepest language for healing.
While not every apology requires each of these responses, the better we get at using them the more often we will hear, ‘Apology accepted’.