Mind & Body

What is your apology language?


There are many ways to apologise, but did you know there are different apology languages? So, which one do you identify with the most? Psychologist Noosha Anzab reveals all here.

Over time, we’ve learnt a thing or two about love languages. In fact, we’ve learnt five and those five seem to be Gary Chapman’s love languages of words of affirmation, quality time, receiving gifts, acts of service, and physical touch.

These household terms have become a staple in outlining the different ways of expressing and receiving love since 1992 when the pastor, counsellor and would be author released the book ‘The Five Love Languages: How to Express Heartfelt Commitment to Your Mate’.

We’ve all become way too familiar with expressing love languages. But what happens when we need to master beyond our love language? What happens when we need to apologise? One thing is for sure – we haven’t quite mastered the art of saying ‘sorry’ and it definitely is never too late to change that.

Fast forward to 2020, we need to take a closer look at the five different ways in both giving and receiving effective and sincere apologies in a bid to not only heal, but to sustain relationships that are vital to us.

When ‘sorry’ isn’t enough, we need to start to explore the five sorry languages to resolve stubborn conflicts, issue effective apologies, and find forgiveness using the five apology languages.

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The 5 apology languages

1. Expressing regret

Honing in on emotional hurt, expressing regret usually sees an apology that admits guilt and shame for causing pain to our counterpart. Those with this love language usually look for a basic “I’m sorry” that gets right to the point and doesn’t make excuses or attempts at deflecting blame.

To conquer this love language, we must take ownership of the wrong doing, making this apology language a sincere commitment to repairing and rebuilding relationships.

2. Accepting responsibility

On occasion, if you want to apologise, you need to accept responsibility particularly if that’s what the other parties love language is.

For some, if an apology does not admit fault, it is not worth hearing. Being sincere in your apology means allowing yourself to be vulnerable, and admitting that you make mistakes.

Though this may be hard to do for some people, it makes a world of a difference to your partner who speaks this language.

3. Making restitution

You break it, you buy it. For those with this love language, if you commit the crime then you must provide reparation.

For a person who speaks this love language, they want justification for the apology in order to make it sincere. For some this involves a simple bouquet if flowers but for others they need to see a genuine and strong effort for making amends and to usually see a loving desire to make right the wrongdoings that occurred in the first instance.

4. Genuinely repenting

For some, the expression of sincere regret or remorse about one’s wrongdoing is the defining factor in an apology.

An apology accompanied with our counterparts desire to modify their behaviour to prevent a repeat of the situation in the future really concretes the sincerity of an apology. This apology language preoccupies itself with the verbalising of a genuine desire to change.

5. Requesting forgiveness

To forgive or not forgive is really the big factor of this apology language. For the most part, we want to hear our counterpart ask us for just that – our forgiveness particularly in this apology language that see us wanting assurance that our partner recognizes the need for forgiveness whilst asking us to keep loving them in an attempt to fully restore the relationship.

Requesting forgiveness proves sincerity in the apology and demonstrates a realisation and acknowledgement that we have done the wrong thing. It also pushes back on the offended partner, in allowing them to make the final decision of forgiving or not.

How to figure out your apology language

Whilst the five apology languages exist and give us great insight into our own and others’ needs in saying sorry, it doesn’t give us any idea as to exactly how to go about apologising effectively in an all round kind of way. There is no apology language that is more superior than the other but one thing we know for sure is that most people prefer a way of apology that helps us feel heard and validated.

As with most things, open and honest communication is the key to success and when looking at the realm of sorry, we have to gently throw some vulnerability into the mix.

The next time we consider apologising, we should try our best to express our regret at what went wrong and why, acknowledge our role in the wrongdoing, repent, repair and simply seek forgiveness.

Noosha Anzab is a clinical psychotherapist & psychologist at Lysn. Lysn is a digital mental health company with world class wellbeing technology which helps people find their best-fit professional psychologist whilst being able to access online tools to improve their mental health.