What you discover when excuses are eliminated
By Erick Rommel Catholic News Service
People expect excuses. Ask any question, and the answer you hear is undeniable proof.
Inquire why a sale item is out of stock at a store. Excuse. Ask why a friend stood you up when you planned an afternoon together. Excuse. Respond when a teacher or boss asks why an assignment isn't done. Excuse.
Justification for things out of our control is part of human nature, and we all know it. We build anticipation for the letdown into the calculus we perform as we make decisions.
Our responses are planned in our minds based on the potential responses we might receive. And, since we do it to others as much as it is done to us, the people we interact with have the same expectations.
Want to be seen in a better light by most people you encounter? Stop making those excuses.
When you try this alternate approach, you'll be amazed at the result. Starting down this new path is easy. When you miss that work assignment, tell the reason straight out. The person asking will be thrown off stride when your response is straightforward and you say you chose not to do it because you got great tickets to the game or show.
That's not to say you won't be punished; that might be inevitable. And, that's not to say the person won't think your answer is still an excuse; they probably will. After all, they're programmed to hear excuses from you, one moment of truth isn't going to change their view.
But, over time, if you consistently say what went wrong without excuse, you will begin standing out from everyone else.
Remember, before a question is asked, the person talking with you already knows what to say in response to almost any excuse you might have. If you don't excuse your actions, they won't have a prepared response. They can't criticize your evasiveness if you're not evasive.
Honesty also comes with additional side effects you may not have considered.
When you're honest, you appear more confident. You don't need to make excuses. You own your actions.
When you're honest, you stand out. People will rely on you more because you're known as a straight shooter. People who are relied upon often become people who are promoted or looked up to.
When you're honest, you'll be able to spend more time planning ahead instead of time planning excuses. People will notice you're getting more done with less drama.
Those are all traits that are very appealing to others both professionally and personally.
However, all this talk of honesty comes with two big caveats.
First, honesty is not an excuse to be mean or cruel. Sometimes small white lies are preferable to a brutal truth. You wouldn't want a friend flat-out telling you they avoided doing something you love because they find it stupid. Such honesty can cause permanent harm. Tact is still required.
Second, don't take this approach too far. Honesty is truly a great policy, but being frequently honest about mistakes means you're making frequent mistakes. Those can't be tolerated no matter how honest you are.
The proper balance between being honest and being too honest is initially hard to find. We're sadly trained from a young age that excuses are necessary.
But, with practice, that training can be broken. You'll soon see, despite the exceptions, that honesty is the best way to move forward rather than look back, especially when you're human and not perfect.
After all, when you don't make excuses, you don't need to remember excuses you've made.
Erick Rommel works for a nonprofit youth organization. He can be reached at [email protected].[[In-content Ad]]