I am easily amused and nothing amuses me more than the ‘creative’ explanations people come up with for not doing certain things.
Don’t get me wrong, I give excuses too and I can never forget how my father would ask why certain things have not been done and after giving me the right of reply (which would take about 15 minutes), he would exasperatedly say “Oluwatoyin, all you have given me are excuses and not a single reason why this has not been done”. Talk about being put in my place!
The problem with coming up with well refined and plausible excuses is the fact that we belittle our brains and creativity by channelling efforts into seeing why something cannot be done as opposed to doing things at all costs.
To determine whether you are giving excuses or providing justifiable reasons, here are a few nuggets:
· An excuse is basically placing blame on a person, thing or event for actions or inactions. For example “I didn’t make it to work in time because it rained”. You could have checked the weather report or carried an umbrella, duh!
· A reason, on the other hand, explains why certain circumstances have occurred and takes responsibility for an action or inaction. For example “I didn’t make it to work in time because there were signalling problems causing delays on the train service and there was no mobile reception to inform you of the delay”.
· An excuse is superficial, an insult to the intelligence of those listening and can actually enrage the person to whom it is addressed.
I am sure you’ve felt like punching Yodel/DHL customer services when you’ve waited all day for a parcel and get that dreaded ‘while you were out we tried to deliver your parcel’ card.
This is after you have left a delivery instruction that the driver should please call you if he cannot gain access to your building. As you can tell, this happens to me a lot and anytime I call customer service to complain, sometimes they say the darndest things that make me wonder how stupid they really think I am.
· A reason is verifiable and the person to whom it is addressed would acquiesce that every practical endeavour was employed to ensure a good outcome.
Using the same example of delivery services, I was expecting a delivery from ASOS (who uses Hermes courier) and the delivery dude could not access my building. He called the head office who called me to say the driver was downstairs with my package! Talk about a very happy customer. He put in the extra effort to get my package to me and I was a very happy woman when I got my items.
I can go on and on giving examples of differences between excuses and reasons but the test is this: If this was a matter of life or death, how would you ensure the work gets done?