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Pre-excusing

 

Techniques General persuasion > Being Right > Pre-excusing

Description | Example | Discussion | See also

 

Description

When we talk with others, and particularly when we make assertions, we risk being corrected, contradicted or otherwise challenged. If such a thing happened we would easily become embarrassed, so we hedge our bets by setting up excuses even before we make our main statements.

Here are typical qualifiers we use in order to pre-excuse ourselves:

  • With any luck...
  • Hopefully...
  • Maybe...
  • It seems likely...
  • I think...
  • I hear that...
  • As far as I know...
  • I suspect...
  • From the available evidence...
  • It sounds like...
  • This may not work, but...
  • Let's try...
  • I've been ill, but...

This pre-excusing now lets us backtrack or remain right, even if our statements are shown to be wrong.

Example

Person 1: From what I have been told, it looks like the company is in for a rough time.
Person 2: Nonsense, we're more than ready.
Person 1: Good to hear that. I was beginning to wonder.

Person 1: Fingers crossed, we will get there on time.
Person 2: You'll be lucky. The traffic is always bad on a Friday.
Person 1: Is it really? Maybe we should take another route.

Discussion

Pre-excusing creates a safety net as it prepares for failure, as when things go wrong it lets us say things like 'I thought so' or 'I warned you'. We also pre-excuse to ourselves. There is a question as to whether pre-excusing leads to a person not trying as hard as they might otherwise as they feel a reduced sense of risk and consequently are less motivated to work extra hard on succeeding.

Pre-excusing also lets us be bold in our statements as any challenge can be deflected away from our selves, for example onto faulty sources or misfortune. With care, you can use the phrasing to allow you to reframe answers to show you are still right.

See also

Pre-thanking, Pre-apology, Pregiving, The Need to Explain, The Need to Win

 

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