Chapman Shares his Thoughts on
The Five Languages of Apology
Many of us are familiar with Gary Chapman’s love languages.
We’ve tried to identify our own, our spouses, our children’s,
and use that knowledge to build better relationships. What happens
when we don’t speak in the language the other person needs
to hear? What do we do in order to keep moving toward healthy, affirming
relationships? Research done by Dr. Chapman and ACC’s own
Dr. Jennifer Thomas shows that individuals also hear and express
words and gestures of apology in different languages..
“Jennifer Thomas approached me several years ago. She had
developed the idea of apology languages and was considering writing
a magazine article,” Gary remembered. “The concept really
resonated with my personal experience as a counselor. I suggested
thinking bigger and so began our 3 years of working together on
The Five Languages of Apology.”
With the availability of mass media, we have seen public figures
who never admit wrongdoing as well as those who make public confessions.
Is apologizing any harder today? “People are imperfect so
I have a sense that it’s always been hard for a person to
apologize,” Chapman said. “Anytime there’s an
offense, it creates an emotional barrier in a relationship. It takes
an apology to remove that barrier. A person may ‘release’
another with one-sided forgiveness but the barrier still sits there.
If there was a relationship, it is not restored.”
Although many of Dr. Chapman’s previous books focus on marriage,
this one is unique in that apologies are necessary in all human
relationships. One chapter, for example, is devoted to apologies
in the workplace. “Many businesses have written policies for
how to deal with customers, but not many actually train employees
in how to make apologies. In addition to dealing with customers,”
stated Chapman, “I believe if department groups could understand
apology languages, both their own and their fellow employees, it
would make work relationships more pleasant and successful.”
The authors also sight examples of how this concept carries over
into the medical community and the relationship between patients
and their doctors.
Chapman went on to say that perhaps the chapter about which he
is most excited is “Teaching Your Child to Apologize.”
“I believe what is taught or modeled in the family has much
to do with our behavior as adults. If parents teach their children
to accept responsibility and that every behavior affects other people,
it will help them to understand that apology is a necessary part
of our relationships.”
One of the people we may find hardest to forgive is ourselves.
Gary shared that people tend to beat up on themselves when they
fail. “There is an estrangement between the ideal self and
the real self which causes a lot of internal pain. There is inner
discord because the person thought they were in a different place
personally, emotionally, or spiritually.” Forgiving ourselves
releases a person from bondage to past failures in order to make
the most of the future.
If we look at Scripture, the apology model is clear. “Our
offenses have separated us from God. His desire is for reconciliation
through our confession and His forgiveness. All five of the apology
languages are demonstrated in Scripture. In Luke, for example, Zacchaeus
makes restitution. In Psalm 51, David accepts responsibility, repents,
and requests forgiveness.”
In concluding, Dr. Chapman spoke about his hope for The Five
Languages of Apology.
“Reconciliation is a human need we all have. In counseling,
therapists work with broken people. Often both the offended and
the offender are hurting. If counselors can help clients speak and
hear the appropriate apology language, I believe it will have far-reaching
impact on relationships of all types.” Healing and sustaining
vital relationships is at the heart of this exciting new book.
©2006 Associates in Christian Counseling, all rights reserved.
Gary Chapman, PhD, is the author of The New York Times best-selling
Five Love Languages book series. He is the director of Marriage
Consultants, Inc., travels around the world presenting seminars,
and his radio
program is heard on over 100 stations. He and his wife, Karolyn,
Winston-Salem where he is Senior Associate Pastor at Calvary Baptist