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Four Patterns Of Excuse-Making And How To Avoid Them
Guest articles > Four Patterns Of Excuse-Making And How To Avoid Them
by: Lisa Earle McLeod
We’ve all heard (and given) our share of excuses.
“My computer crashed, I got stuck in traffic, no one told me I was supposed to do it, the dog ate my homework.”
It’s frustrating to encounter in others, but we’re often guilty ourselves, “I was sooo busy, my travel schedule has been crazy,” blah, blah.
Only we don't call them excuses, we call them reasons.
One of my executive coaching clients recently experienced an excuse-making situation with their team. Every member of the team had been tasked with documenting the procedures for their department. They had one month to complete it. At the end of the month, only half the people had it done. The other half had plenty of good “reasons” for why they hadn't done the assignment.
“Our department’s been swamped.”
“The other department didn’t send the paperwork.”
“We didn't know what you wanted.”
“Why do we even need this in the first place?”
These four common patterns of excuse-making. They may be legitimate, but when people use them after they’ve missed the deadline, they come across as excuses, lame ones at that.
Here are the four common excuse-making patterns and how to avoid them.
If you say no beforehand, it’s a decision. But if you say no after you promised, it’s an excuse. Don’t say yes unless you mean it. When someone says yes to you, double check to make sure you’re both clear.
Excuse-making can become habit if you let it. People will usually gracefully let you off the hook, but you're not really getting away with anything, because over time they begin to think of you as someone who can’t be counted on.
Does anyone want to be known as an excuse-maker?
Lisa Earle McLeod helps organizations win the hearts and minds of customers and employees. She is the author of three books included the best-seller, The Triangle of Truth: The Surprisingly Simple Secret to Resolving Conflicts Large and Small, A Washington Post Top 5 Book for Leaders.
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