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How to Use the Five Languages of Apology to Heal Relationships

No matter how perfect a relationship is, there will always be times when things can get messy. Flying off the handle and doing something regrettable in the heat of the moment is something we’re all familiar with. After all, to err is human.

Although we can’t change what’s done, we always have reasonable control over what approach we can take to repair things. Learning to make an effective apology is a vital life skill. Admitting you were wrong and making amends not only helps in healing personal relationships but can also be crucial in business settings. Merely saying 'I am sorry’ is just not enough and can feel superficial to the recipient.

Sometimes, you need to take more responsibility and fully explain instead of just trying to resolve the conflict. Because an apology is not just about admitting you were wrong, it is also about moving away from the mistake and getting back into a loving relationship.

Five languages of apology:

There are five languages of effective apology – practices that help make sure your effort makes the best impact on the recipient. Let’s go through them down below.

1. Expressing regret (“I apologize”):

It's acknowledging that one has hurt or done wrong to someone and that they are deeply remorseful. The more sincere it is, the more it shows that you genuinely care about the person.

2. Accepting responsibility (“I was wrong”):

Admitting your mistake is especially important. It shows that the person is taking responsibility for their actions rationally. A blame game in the time of apology might make the other person insecure that the issue will happen again. In contrast, the admittance of the mistake makes the other person feel secure that you are aware of it and it will not happen again. So, if you were wrong, put it out plainly, and admit you were at fault, so the other person knows you have realized your mistakes and don’t intend to repeat them.

3. Making restitution (“What can I do to make it right”):

Asking for a solution or way to make up for the wrong made is a genuine way of showing that you care and are willing to make things right. This helps in quickly making up for the damage done.

4. Genuinely repenting (“I will try not to do it again”):

An apology is useless if you don’t assure the other person that it won’t happen again. Repenting is a commitment to change and, if possible, not to make the same mistake in its true essence. It requires both parties to solve the problem on deeper levels.

5. Requesting forgiveness (“Will you please forgive me?”)

This approach is vital to show care for the healing and restoration of the relationship. It humbles one party to the other and conveys vulnerability that helps facilitate healing.


No matter how bad things seem, a good apology can go a long way in bringing your relationship back to life. So, whenever you get into an argument next time, make sure you use all or most of the above-mentioned languages to make your apology as heartfelt and as sincere as possible.

“Learning to apologize is a life skill that will make all of your relationships more authentic.”

-Dr. Gary Chapman, primary author (with Jennifer Thomas) of “The Five Languages of Apology."

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