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Apologies That Work

One thing we as women leaders need to ask ourselves is, Are we to follow traditional models or seek to break new ground? If we're interested in breaking new ground, I think one of the best ways to integrate our instinctive feminine strengths into our leadership is by setting a positive example with by the transparency of our apologies.

Isn't it sad that apologies are often seen as a sign of weakness and associated with the "weaker" sex? Yet, it takes great strength to humble yourself and offer the gift of a meaningful apology.

Scripture instructs that whether we are the offender or the offended, the onus is on us to seek restoration in our relationships.

In Matthew 5:23 ? 24, we are instructed: "Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother or sister has something against you, leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to that person; then come and offer your gift" (Today's NIV). In the next chapter of Matthew, we are told: "If you forgive others when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins" (Matthew 6: 14 ? 15 Today's NIV).

What if you or a colleague has tried to apologize, but your best efforts were perceived as insincere or incomplete? The struggle may be a simple issue of how apologies are communicated. As we experienced our own successes and failures in making up with each other, my husband and I realized that we have separate "apology languages." I shared this idea with Dr. Gary Chapman, which led to our collaboration on The Five Languages of Apology because we wanted people's apologies to succeed in restoring relationships - both by better expressing their own hearts and in recognizing others' apology efforts. We surveyed over 400 people about what they look for in a sincere apology and we found that their responses fell evenly into the following five categories:

Apology Language #1: Expressing regret by saying, "I am sorry."

Apology Language #2: Accepting responsibility by saying, "I was wrong."

Apology Language #3: Making amends by saying, "What can I do to make it right?"

Apology Language #4: Repenting by saying, "I'll try not to do that again."

Apology Language #5: Requesting forgiveness: "Will you please forgive me?"

When God calls us to apologize, we should act with urgency to repair the problem. These apology languages should encourage us to bravely list all that we have done wrong, recognize how this has "put out" the other person, show our concern for them, and explain what will truly be different next time. To ensure your apology "hits the mark," you should ask the people close to you what they most like to hear in an apology.

After you learn the apology languages of your friends, family members and ministry co-workers, you will have the extra benefit of being able to give targeted apologies that still impart the full measure of your sincerity. How can you as a woman leader model healthy relationships by apologizing?

July31, 2007 at 4:13 PM

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