Stages of Communicating Forgiveness


As a matter of fact, forgiveness remains an essential element in human relations. It is advisable that individuals should either seek forgiveness or offer it to others. Moreover, several studies concerning this notion are believed to have been generated from philosophical, psychological, and even theological perspectives. In particular, Waldron and Kelley (2008) argue that communication creates a better environment for the action of forgiving. The latter originates from previous experiments in social sciences. Thus, this paper will try to present my personal story on the processing of forgiveness and relate it to Waldron and Kelley’s study on communicating the concept as the authors provide insights into different aspects.

My Story

My brother Felix and I had planned a party when we were in high school. Our parents had traveled out of the country, and we considered that it would be a perfect time for the event. We had been arranging it for a long time ever since we were told about the plans of our parents. Hence, our friends and other people who we had wanted to invite, were aware about it. Surprisingly, even those whom we did not know came to the party. As a result, the party was ruined, and some of our properties were destroyed. Obviously, when our parents returned home, everything was in a mess. We felt remorseful as we narrated the incident and told the truth, including how we organized the party. Furthermore, we proceeded to stress how sorry we were and promised that it would not happen again. Our parents became mad, but it was understandable. Eventually, they forgave us, which we were relieved to hear. In addition, father told us that he realized our situation; we were young and such occurrences were likely to happen. Our parents highlighted the risks that we would have brought to ourselves with our stupid actions.

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Notably, the negotiation of forgiveness, according to the model of Waldron and Kelley (2008), comprises six processes of communication, which include revealing, and determining the transgressions, emotion management, sense-making, forgiveness-seeking, the granting of forgiveness, and the negotiation of the relationship.

In the first phase, Waldron and Kelley believe that people should truthfully reveal what inspired their actions and why they behave in that manner. In our case, we said that we organized a party in our house and invited friends without the knowledge of my parents. Our property was damaged due to a large number of people who came there, and there was much noise that affected our neighbors.

The second phase is linked to emotion management; Waldron and Kelley contend that both the offender and the offended should have the capacity to control their feelings. There is the need for sober discussion between the two parties. Thus, I ensured that I controlled my emotions and positively explained my forgiveness. Indeed, I allowed our parents to ask questions without any interruptions. In this way, I knew the benefits of such behavior because they could take any disruption as an argument with them. It is important to engage in sober discussion that is full of sense making to ease the process of communicating forgiveness. In our case, parents talked to us about the risks that we had taken. The motivation in our case was the absence of family members, which enabled us to organize the party.

The third phase involves sense making, where both parties are expected to have a reasonable and logical discussion. As I narrated everything that happened, my brother and I felt remorseful. We gave our side of the story and what we thought about it before it happened. Notably, we did not understand that it could cause damage and be risky for us and our neighbors.

The fourth phase is forgiveness-seeking, when the offender is expected to ask for pardon and consequently apologize as they understand that their actions have unjustly hurt the other party. I humbly asked for forgiveness and said, “I am sorry for what has happened.” After apologizing, I saw that my father softened his stand and told us to leave but never to repeat that mistake. However, after understanding our error, we immediately apologized and promised to never act in that way. In addition, our parents communicated the reasons why they were angry at us and utilized the episode of forgiveness to show us the risks we were putting ourselves at (Waldron & Kelley, 2008).

The filth phase is the granting of forgiveness; in this case, the offended is expected to grant the pardon to the affected party. Our parents made a choice to apologize us and recommend us to never repeat the mistake. The last phase is the negotiation of the relationship, which happens after the affected party has pardoned the offender as they seek to restore friendship without any grudge. After we were pardoned, I felt at ease with myself and believed there was no more grievance. Later, our parents sent us to the shop and even gave the gifts they had bought for us. Thus, our relationship was restored and became stronger than before.

Thanks to the forgiveness process between our parents and us, I realized that communicating the notion is essential when asking for or offering pardon. It is important to effectively employ such virtues as humility, truth, and remorse when striving for forgiveness (Enright & Fitzgibbons, 2000). Moreover, it is a process of relation in which harmful behavior is accepted either by one or both parties. Therefore, it is essential for both sides to have a flexible stand.

In general, forgiveness entails defeating the negative effects as well as prejudice towards those who have been wrong by perceiving them with love and compassion while understanding that they have realized the mistake (Heffner & Byock, 2002). In our case, my parents were offended and needed a justification for our actions. It is through adequate explanation that we made it possible for them to forgive us (Enright & Coyle, 1998). Additionally, the notion involves the process whereby an individual manages and adequately presents themselves when they are unjustly hurt by the offenders.

According to Waldron and Kelley, (2008), most individuals make a decision to forgive. Overall, the two authors revealed that forgiveness is a positive and hopeful separation that distributes bitterness. Therefore, Waldron and Kelley (2008) describe it as a communication process, which enables people to tackle transgression, deal with emotions, and potentially mend the relationship (Steinhauser et al., 2008).

In conclusion, I believe that forgiveness can restore happiness for both the offender and the affected. Hence, it is important for people to embrace the concept. One of the challenges that are usually experienced in the process of communicating forgiveness is lack of adequate expression, namely oral and body gestures. It requires physical emotions as well as justifiable reasons for an action of an offender. t is recommended that before one asks for forgiveness, they should confess about their mistakes and should show humility. As depicted in our case, I admitted my errors and humbly requested parents to forgive us. It was evident through our actions that we did not expect that our properties would be damaged. Overall, forgiveness and life are inseparable. We are the social beings who need one another. Therefore, it is important to eliminate all grudges.



Enright, R. D., & Coyle, C. T. (1998). Researching the process model of forgiveness within psychological interventions. In Dimensions of Forgiveness: Psychological Research and Theological Perspectives (pp. 139-161). Oxford University Press.

Enright, R. D., & Fitzgibbons, R. P. (2000). Helping clients forgive: An empirical guide for resolving anger and restoring hope. American Psychological Association.

Heffner, J. E., & Byock, I. (2002). Palliative and end-of-life pearls. Elsevier Health Sciences.

Steinhauser, K. E., Alexander, S. C., Byock, I. R., George, L. K., Olsen, M. K., & Tulsky, J. A. (2008). Do preparation and life completion discussions improve functioning and quality of life in seriously ill patients? Pilot randomized control trial. Journal of Palliative Medicine, 11(9), 1234-1240.

Waldron, V. R., & Kelley, D. L. (2008). Communicating forgiveness. Sage.