I’ve always been a big fan of “The 5 Love Languages”, written by Gary Chapman and along with other combinations of co-authors like Ross Campbell, and Jennifer Thomas. In collecting some background information for this post, I see that there are now 7 titles total. I’m behind! I only have 4 of the books! My favorite of the “lot”, is “The Five Languages of Apology: How to Experience Healing in All Your Relationships”. Every person has a preference in how they apologize. This is a good indicator of how they prefer to be apologized to by others!
Chloe and I have been working together for a little over two years now. In the beginning, I had to really get to know her and learn what some of her calming signals, body language and other cues meant. Sometimes as clients-in-training, we pick up things from our trainers just by paying attention. The trainers work with more than one dog more often than not. They simply cannot relay every single tidbit of information about your dog to you. When I’ve asked specific questions, they may think a second about MY dog and then answer as best they know. Something I picked up by listening to Pat was the word “phoeey”. It isn’t even said in a harsh way, or with an elevated tone.
We were at a gas station filling up Pat’s car. Chloe wasn’t staying overnight with me yet, and so the fact that Pat was OUTSIDE the car filling up had Chloe concerned. I could just barely hear Chloe’s high pitch whine. When Pat got back in the car, Chloe hopped up to give Pat’s ear a kiss, and Pat calmly said, “Chloe phoeey”. Chloe immediately went back to her place “happy as a clam” and seemed assured that all was right in the world again.(Is a clam ever happy, folks? Where do we get some of our phrases? EYES ROLL).
By LISTENING, I learned that if I say “phoeey” to Chloe she understands to stop what she is doing. If it is something she knows she should NOT have been doing, she attempts to apologize as well. For Chloe, an apology is a sweet sit, eyes connect with a tiny sheepish duck of the head. She will many times put a paw on my knee if I’m sitting as if to say, “Sorry… we ok?” A pat on the head is all that is required for her to know the apology is accepted.
My Elkhound pup turned two this month, and believe me he is still a pup! Tyco is very sensitive, and if I ask him to stop doing something (a louder WRONG for he ignores a “Tyco phoeey”), he belly crawls to me and licks my feet! The poor guy! I scratch his ears and “love talk” him for 10 seconds to let him know there are no bad feelings.(Longer periods of time just rewards his behavior… I want him to know all is well and GET ON WITH LIFE).
Pegasus is a nervous little guy. If he is corrected by person or other dog, Pegasus will TWIRL to apologize. He twirls. Constantly. In one direction. Opposite what my world spins due to Meniere’s. Needless to say, I intervene before I fall on my caboose. I reach down and pick him up mid-twirl, smooch him a kiss loudly and confidently, and set him back down. WHEW. Apology accepted. Ebony? Well she is our senior citizen. If she is corrected, (usually Ebony – NO) she ignores us. After all… she’s deaf (and partially blind, and arthritic, collapsing trachea, enlarged heart, liver disease, rotating patellas, alopecia and MORE).
5 Different Apologies
I think every person should read this book! I have learned so much about how each of my own family members have a different apology language. I’m learning how to do the same with other family members and friends. The apology languages are as follows:
1. Expressing Regret (“I am sorry”)
2. Accepting Responsibility (“I was wrong”)
3. Making Restitution (“What can I do to make it right?”)
4. Genuinely repenting (“I’ll try not to do that again”)
5. Requesting Forgiveness (“Will you please forgive me?”)
In a perfect world there would be no need for apologies. Since we live in a world that is far from perfect, it would be wise to learn to apologize. Let’s face it! We all blow it!
Sometimes we intentionally purpose to make someone mad or hurt them. I wish it weren’t true, but I can be honest with myself. There are times I know that what I’m going to say or do will either make another angry or hurt. Perhaps I justify it because it is done with vengeance. Maybe I’m just in a rotten mood and desire to “share the feeling”. It may be that I’m tired, not feeling well, and should go to bed instead of trying to communicate with someone. The damage is done! I believe when we are willful and premeditated about our wounding, our apology should reflect the seriousness of situation. I believe we should not only SAY we are sorry, but SHOW we are sorry. If I ever find that I am deliberate about being unkind, I attempt to make restitution. Shame on me!
Oops… did I do that?
Sometimes we hurt someone unintentionally. Apologies are given because of how another received what we said or did, not because it was our intent to hurt them. Have you ever discovered you hurt someone and that disclosure took YOU by surprise? If you hurt someone accidentally, you should apologize. Depending on the circumstances, you may try to explain what you were attempting to do. Don’t justify your actions WITHOUT an apology. It doesn’t really matter what you MEANT. If it hurt someone, we should try to make that right. We shouldn’t be so proud that we cannot say, “I’m sorry! I did not mean it that way, and I’m really sorry that what I said ended up hurting you!”
Having said all of that, we need to be careful about our own sensitivity. At certain times in my life, I remember being in the frame of mind where I EXPECTED people to say or do hateful things. Guess what? I was never disappointed. It seemed that every day I was owed an apology for something. What a terrible way to live! If someone says something a bit “off”, try not to jump to the conclusion that is was meant maliciously or callously. Expect the best from people… not their worst.
Recently my son and I were working together to change the cat litter out in the litter boxes. The kids have 3 cats between the two of them and so we have 3 litter boxes. (Ever tried to ask a cat to wait in line with her legs crossed?). We buy cat litter in huge 40 pound bags. I simply cannot lift it and “aim” at the same time. My 6′ almost 3″ son has no problem hefting big awkward bags… unless any dust happens to aggravate his allergies that is! In the middle of hefting, tilting and aiming the bag, he gave a tremendous house-rattling SNEEZE. Yup. You guessed it! When the dust cleared, he and I both looked down at the pile of litter that now completely covered my bare FEET.
“Um… gee mom. Sorry about that!”
I wiggled my toes. They didn’t appear because the pile was THAT DEEP. He didn’t MEAN to bury my feet. It wasn’t his intention to set up an accident to where it would necessitate my cleaning litter out from between my toes. I couldn’t help it… I started to giggle, then I began to crack up… and finally my son and I were both in stitches just dying laughing! We cleaned up the mess, and finished the job… but just barely! Chris gets the hiccups when he laughs THAT hard, which is just about as dangerous as a sneeze!
Heck! Even DOGS understand when it wasn’t on purpose! Sometimes my two big dogs will be playing and one of them may inadvertently nibble/pinch too hard. If Tyco did the “oops”, he drops and crawls to Chloe and licks her feet with his ears flattened. His apology language doesn’t change species to species it seems! If Chloe does the “ouchie”, she will come and sit next to Tyco and give him a soft cuff and lean against him. She looks up under her eyelashes at him with a look that says, “Did I do that? Um, sorry – oops!”
Chip on Their Shoulder
Have you ever met someone who is ultra-sensitive? It seems like every time you are with them you say or do something that hurts their feelings or wounds their fragile ego. Do we owe them an apology every single time? Wouldn’t our conversations with them end up being apologies alone? In the course of my lifetime I have been in contact with people like this. You may have to sit them down and say:
“You know? It seems like whenever we are together I say or do something that makes you mad or hurts your feelings. I’m really not intentionally doing these things! It may be that you have this expectation of me. Can we discuss this?”
Perhaps you should agree to just limit your contact with this person. Maybe you don’t have a choice! This may mean that you have to change your own behavior and carefully, methodically respond when with this person. You may be in a situation where it is impossible to tip-toe around the other person’s feelings. Your one-on-one conversation may include something like:
“It seems I cannot say or do anything to keep you from being upset. If you watch my interactions with others, I love to laugh, tease and interact with others in a positive way. I understand you do not like this and I have never intended to cause you pain. It may mean that we work together as best we can, and just acknowledge that our personalities do not mesh well. That’s OK! We don’t have to be friends to work together with mutual respect.”
© 2009 Hearing Loss Journal