We all make mistakes, and when we do we need to apologize to those we’ve wronged. But, how do we apologize? Is there more than one way to do it?

Parenting expert Arlene Pellicane points us to Gary Chapman’s five steps to an apology.

Often we dismiss these steps when it comes to minor offenses, but by addressing the small things we build an intentional process for addressing larger issues.

1. Expressing regret. 

“I’m sorry.”

When we express regret we tell the person we’ve wronged that we are sorry for what we did to them. While saying sorry is good, it isn’t enough especially when dealing with larger offenses.

2. Accepting responsibility

“I was wrong for snapping at you at breakfast.”

A key to a good apology is actually name the sin that you are apologizing for. It’s not enough to just say ‘I’m sorry for stuff.’ This helps show the person you have wronged that you understand why they are feeling hurt or offended.

3. Making restitution

“What can I do to make it right?”

When we make restitution, we ask the question how we can repair the issue. Sometimes this includes involving others were present during the offense and apologizing to them.

4. Genuine repentance

“I’ll try my best to not do that again.”

The key to genuine repentance is making a concerted effort to prevent the transgression from happening again.

5. Request forgiveness

“Will you please forgive me?”

The final step in the process of apologizing is requesting forgiveness from those we’ve wronged.

For a minor offense, these steps can be taken quickly and the conflict can be resolved in short order. However, in a major case, it is important to be intentional as you work through the process of apologizing.

Highlight: Do you know how to apologize?

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