Making excuses: we all do it. Why? Because it makes us feel better, right? If you can justify why you forgot to pick up dinner… why you didn’t meet that deadline at work… or why you made that nasty comment to your spouse in front of the kids, the crime seems a little less deadly. Excuses get us off the hook, deflect responsibility, and make us feel less guilty about our wrongdoings. But the problem is, excuses can also make us appear careless, self-centered, and unreliable. Excuses can work in everyone’s favor… if delivered effectively. Here are 3 tips to keep in mind in order to deliver the perfect excuse:
- DON’T START WITH “I’M SORRY, BUT…”
Starting an interaction with “I’m sorry, but” can weaken the strength of your apology and invalidate what comes afterwards. You want your apology and your excuse to have equal weight and come across as meaningful. So for example, instead of saying, “I’m sorry but I didn’t pick up dinner because I forgot my wallet at home,” come right out and admit responsibility for your wrongdoing and then apologize. Say something like, “You know what? I absentmindedly forgot my wallet at home and I failed to pick up dinner. I’m so sorry.”
- OFFER A REPAIR
Offering a repair is a two-step process. First, you need to identify how you’re doing to fix the problem and then you need to go beyond that and tell the other person what you’ll do to repair the relationship. For example, if you don’t meet an expected deadline at work, tell your boss you’ll come in early tomorrow and complete the task first thing. Then offer to make up for your mistake by taking on an extra task or bring your boss his/her favorite coffee.
- BE TRUTHFUL
Don’t lie about why you didn’t stick to your word. Chances are, lying will not make you feel better about the situation, and there’s always a chance of getting caught. If you do get caught, you’ll have to apologize not only for the original mistake, but also for the lie. And you’ll look pretty stupid. So if you honestly forgot your spouse’s birthday, don’t try and provide some lame-o excuse. Take responsibility, apologize, and tell your spouse what you plan to do to make it up to him/her.
So next time you find yourself about to say “I’m sorry, but…” try these tips and let us know the outcome. We at Harmony At Home would love to hear from you.