When ‘Sorry’ Isn’t Enough

Welcome to my blog. I’m a psychologist and the co-author (with Gary Chapman) of When Sorry Isn’t Enough. I share tips about What to Say When challenging conversations arise and I welcome your thoughts and questions. I’ll check back in frequently to chime in on the conversations here.

Are there friends or family members whom you rarely hear apologize? Their apologies may be long overdue. Here is the problem: we have a natural tendency to gloss over what we have done wrong. Perhaps we hope that if we don’t say how self-centered or thoughtless we have been, others won’t take notice and scold us.  Ironically, the opposite is true. Others are hesitant to forgive us if we really don’t seem to “get it”. We must show that we are sincerely sorry.  If we don’t seem to recognize all of the pain that we have caused, aren’t we likely to just hurt them again?

What do you need to know in order to apologize well? As we have talked about our own successes and failures in apologizing, my husband and I have realized that we have different “apology languages.”  Those who are familiar with the work of Dr. Gary Chapman in The Five Love Languages will recognize this concept of “languages.”  Dr. Chapman’s premise is that many relationship problems stem from miscommunication. Specifically, he recommends that in order to be heard by others, we need to speak not in our natural language, but in the language of the listener.

How do apology languages work?  Have you ever tried to apologize, only to be rebuffed? It may be that you were offering a partial apology in a “language” that was foreign to your listener.

Recently, I was the featured blogger for a great charity, Inheritance of Hope.group

Click here to read more of what I shared with them about apology languages. I’m featuring Inheritance of Hope today because I’ve had the privilege of serving as a counselor with them on numerous trips to Disneyworld.

Here’s a bit of the charity’s history: After being diagnosed with a rare terminal illness in 2003, Kristen Milligan searched for children’s literature to help her children — Ashlea (then four years old), Luke (two), and Rebecca (seven months).  Unable to find anything that met their needs, she decided to write her own book.  The result was A Train’s Rust, A Toy Maker’s Love, the story of a train family whose mother begins to rust, prompting questions of the toy maker about what will happen next.

Kristen endured her disease for nearly ten years, including six surgeries, twenty-two months of chemotherapy, two rounds of radiation, and two more books.  She died on October 26, 2012. Kristen and her husband, Deric, expanded the concept in May 2007 by founding Inheritance of Hope, a 501(c)3 nonprofit charity with the vision that “Every Family Deserves a Legacy.”® The organization began selling Kristen’s books, and in August 2008 Inheritance of Hope hosted its first all-expenses-paid Legacy Retreat® in New York.

Gary Chapman, Ph.D.
Author of The Five Love Languages
“Inheritance of Hope provides expert love and care for families battling a parent’s life-threatening illness.”

Moving Forward: Inheritance of Hope continues to expand its offerings to young families facing the life-threatening illness of a parent.

Click here to watch a brief, inspirational video by the charity’s late founder, Kristin.

Talk About It:

Do you know someone who has waited until it’s too late to work out a dispute?

Who do you really cherish and plan to reach out to today?

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Two Simple Things Your Relationships Need For Survival

Welcome to my blog. I’m a psychologist and the co-author (with Gary Chapman) of When Sorry Isn’t Enough. I share tips about What to Say When challenging conversations arise and I welcome your thoughts and questions. I’ll check back in frequently to chime in on the conversations here.

“Good relationships are four parts liking each other and seven parts forgiveness.” Quote by Jennifer Thomas

Gary Chapman is known as “The Love Language Man.” His New York Times book, The Five Love Languages, selling over 9 million copies, has become a classic. To have blissful relationships, showing love is a must.  To have happy friends and co-workers, showing appreciation is essential. Recently, Dr. Chapman has embraced a second necessary ingredient for healthy relationships: dealing with offenses through apologies and forgiveness.  In May, Gary Chapman and I released When Sorry Isn’t Enough, which tells readers how to make things right with anyone. We believe that these two books fit together like a hand in a glove. Both sets of tools are needed to make relationships work.

Today, most engaged couples know that they need to learn each others’ love languages.  Yet they will not be fully equipped for their journey without the matching insight: their languages of apology.  Whether in love relationships, friendships, or the workplace, love languages and apology languages are practical tools for cementing your relationships.

Since our book on apologies was released, we’ve gotten very positive feedback. One person who emailed me gave me permission to share her thoughts with you:

Jennifer,

Do you remember me telling you that I taught on apologies from your book at adult Sunday school at my church?  Well, I had an opportunity yesterday to put your techniques to work.  Someone at church was deeply offended about something that was partially my doing.  I talked with the person one-on-one, and did my best to incorporate all five apology languages.  Whether this person will forgive, I cannot say.  But I was soooooo glad to have had the information from your book to fall upon. I thought you might want to know,

(From my friend)

Also, I received this email from an astute man:

Thanks again for your time at Kiwanis last Thurs.  Really great insights for managing relationships.  My wife and I have had significant arguments about whether or not the other apologized.  I haven’t apologized unless I make it very clear that I was wrong, and she hasn’t apologized unless she makes it clear to me that the future will be different.  Appreciating our different attitudes at least gives us the opportunity (whether or not we take it is another story) to apologize to the other in language they understand and appreciate.

Best wishes,

(From an attendee at one of my seminars)

Are you in a pickle with someone today? Here is a “Cliff Notes” version of both concepts for you to use. Relationships at home and at work can be very challenging. Don’t give up. Use these practical ideas for getting out of any jam with others.

Gary Chapman’s 5 Love Languages:

  1. Gifts- For some people, what makes them feel most loved is to receive a gift.
  2. Acts of service- Remember that for some people, actions speak louder than words.
  3. Words of affirmation- Say, write, or text encouraging words to other people.
  4. Quality time- This language is all about giving the other person your undivided attention.
  5. Physical touch- To this person, nothing speaks more deeply than appropriate touch.

NEW! Our 5 Languages of Apology:

  1. Express regret- Say “I’m sorry for the hurt I’ve caused.”
  2. Accept responsibility- Say “I was wrong.”
  3. Make restitution- Ask, “What can I do to make things right?
  4. Genuinely repent- State how you will change so you will not do it again.
  5. Request forgiveness- Ask, “Will you please forgive me?”

Your turn:

Which do you think needs to come first: Love languages or apology languages?

In your experience, what part of an apology do too many people omit?

 

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How I First Learned What to Say… When Sorry Isn’t Enough

Welcome to my blog. I’m a psychologist and the co-author (with Gary Chapman) of When Sorry Isn’t Enough. I share tips about What to Say When challenging conversations arise and I welcome your thoughts and questions. I’ll check back in frequently to chime in on the conversations here. 

I’m often asked how I came up with the new concepts in “When Sorry Isn’t Enough”. I co-authored this book with Gary Chapman and it was released in May 2013. Here is an interview in which I answered that question:

How did the idea of an apology language first come to your mind?
During my six years of graduate training in clinical psychology at the University of Maryland, I made note cards about lessons I learned that might help my future clients. On these cards, I listed many Bible verses and quotes about conflict, forgiveness, grief, marriage, parenting, etc. Ten years ago, I made a note card that listed several different parts of an apology. At that time, I only had three parts of an apology, but I added to the list over the years and finally arrived at our five parts of an apology.

Several years ago, I made a mistake that led to an argument with my husband. Ironically, this incident happened the evening before we were to teach about communication and forgiveness to a pre-marital class at our church. As he and I worked through our own argument, I offered an apology to him that failed to hit the mark. I was thinking to myself, “This is not good. We are barely speaking and yet we are supposed to teach together tomorrow.” Normally, I might have been miffed by his response, but this time my curiosity took over and so I asked him what he would like to hear in my apology. While I had been saying, “I’m sorry,” he needed to hear me say “I was wrong.” I had made a mistake and I knewwas in the wrong, so I went ahead and said it to my husband. I was amazed by how quickly this apology worked. My husband felt better and the emotional tension between the two of us slipped away.

I made a mental note to include my husband’s favorite words in future apologies I would give to him. I wondered if our experience might help other people who are in the “dog house” and don’t know how to get out of there.

How did you connect your ideas with Dr. Chapman’s love languages?
The couples in our pre-marital class were already familiar with The Five Love Languages. I concluded the class by linking the two concepts together. I said, “Just as you have learned that you should show love in a language that really speaks to your fiancée, you should also speak apologies that contain the words he or she is waiting to hear.”

I had met Gary Chapman locally through my work as a psychologist in private practice in North Carolina. I was curious about his thoughts on apologies. Six months later, I made an appointment to talk over these ideas with him. Dr. Chapman was very encouraging and we ended up writing a book together.

Here is a simple exercise from When Sorry Isn’t Enough for couples, friends, and teams.

Talk over these two questions in order to cool down heated arguments:

  1. When you hear a great apology, what is included?
  2. When you hear a lame apology, what is missing?

Also, you can also click on my website’s “free resources” tab to take the apology language and love language assessments for free.

About this blog

 

Our book

 

Gary Chapman is well known as the ‘love languages guy’.  His New York Times bestselling book, The Five Love Languages, has become a classic in the field of relationships.   In 2006, Gary Chapman and I released The Five Languages of Apology, which illuminates the steps for removing barriers in any relationship.  Our book is not a marriage book.  You might want to hop over to my website (www.drjenthomas.com) for a list of our book chapters, which include “Apologies in the Workplace” and “Teaching Children to Apologize.”

We believe that The Five Love Languages and The Five Languages of Apology fit together like a hand in a glove.  Both concepts embody ‘vital statistics’ for making relationships work.  Today, most engaged couples know that they need to learn each others’ love languages.  Yet they will not be fully equipped for their journey without the matching insight: their languages of apology.  Whether in love relationships, friendships, or the workplace, love languages and apology languages are practical tools for cementing your relationships.

In this blog, you’ll find posts about these two essentials:  love/appreciation and handling offenses. I’ll also be talking about apologies in the news and tips for great communication

 

The Forgiveness Service

 

My most popular post concerned my former pastor who recently made a startling apology.  I’ve titled that series of May posts “An Unprecedented Public Apology.”

If you’d like to receive updates on Facebook about my activities and events related to Gary Chapman, you can join our new fan group.

 

My co-author, Dr. Gary Chapman

Dr. Jen Thomas