Before Gary Chapman and I wrote The Five Languages of Apology, we surveyed 400 people about what they looked for in sincere apologies. We found that their answers fell into these five categories (we call them ‘apology languages’):
Apology Language #1: Expressing Regret
“I am sorry.”
Apology Language #2: Accepting Responsibility
“I was wrong.”
Apology Language #3: Restitution-Making Amends
“What can I do to make it right?”
Apology Language #4: Repentance
“I’ll Try Not to Do That Again”
Apology Language #5: Requesting Forgiveness
“Will You Please Forgive me?”
Next, we asked our survey respondents to rank these five elements in order of preference. We thought the evidence for sincerity would differ person to person- and it did! After all, why are some victims satisfied by a pay-off in a court case and others just want face-to-face words? The results were that none of the five areas got more than a 28 percent of respondents saying that’s what they were looking for. That means they are all of basically equal importance. A take-away is that when PR execs go and craft their apologies and randomly hit on two of the five areas, they would only have 60 percent of the people believe they’re sincere, according to our research. So the application today that nobody else is talking about is that it’s important to cover all five of these key criteria for a public apology to be truly successful. Based upon our research, I now offer consultation on how to provide five star apologies. In addition, I am rating apologies in the media based upon our five point scale.
Special Thanks to Brian Pittman of http://www.bulldogreporter.com who interviewed me and created a post on this topic.