Have you ever been in a situation where you were unable to make good on a promise or commitment? Perhaps you were late with a report to your manager, unable to take a child to the playground, or late for dinner with your partner. The question is, after the realization sets in that you can not deliver, how do you explain why you were unable to meet your obligation? Do you stand in the truth, own your actions and give an honest reason, or do you make excuses concerned only with freeing yourself from blame?.Is there a difference? For many of us, we have probably thought of the two as being one in the same. You may be asking yourself, "Is there really a difference?" At times, the distinction between the two can be difficult to see. After all, excuses have the ability to be disguised as reasons fooling you into thinking, "That sounds like a valid reason.
" In fact, when you tune in and really listen, the facade of an excuse will quickly give way to expose the truth of falsehood.Explanations come in two forms ? excuses and reasons. Remember: you make excuses and you give reasons.Explanations An excuse is an attempt to free oneself from blame by deflecting attention and responsibility onto someone or something else. Excuses diminish your power and say "I am not willing to take responsibility.
Instead, I will settle for whatever path others choose for me as a result of my actions." Making excuses will erode others confidence in you, and destroy your self-respect. The refusal to be personally accountable is rooted in the fear of failure - to be known as someone who did not deliver. This defense mechanism results in a plea to convince others to overlook your part and to minimize the damage caused by your role in a given situation.
To say one has a "good excuse" is an oxymoron which implies there is a difference between good and bad excuses. All excuses are bad and unacceptable. Here are some examples:.* "I was late to the meeting because the clock in the lunchroom has been broken for a month.
".* "My report is late because my manager didn't remind me it was due today.".* "I am not ready to give my report to the Board of Directors tomorrow because I was on vacation the last two weeks and I didn't prepare.".
A reason is defined as a legitimate, truthful account of a situation which includes explanation of your part. Rooted in good judgment, there exists a willingness to own your actions and deal with the consequences. Reasons seek to clarify what happened, who was responsible, and how to deal with the situation and seek immediate solutions so that one can do better now and in the future. A reason is not motivated by fear, but driven by respect and integrity.
Here are some examples:.* "The reason I am late is because I had a flat tire.".* "Although I was assigned this report last Friday, the reason my report is late is because the mainframe crashed Friday afternoon and has been down ever since.
I have attempted to retrieve the information from our satellite location, but to no avail.".* "The reason I will not give a Power Point presentation is because the projector just died. Since it will be at least an hour before we locate a replacement, I will proceed without it and ask that you follow along via my handout.".Action Steps When you are in the moment of truth, remember the choice is yours ? you can make excuses or you can give valid reasons.
Here are a few questions to ask yourself before you speak out to determine if you are about to make excuses or provide a reason:.1. What is your intent - is it to release yourself from total blame or to provide a straightforward, honest account of the situation and your actions?.
2. Are you willing to accept the consequences of your actions and take steps to improve the situation?.3. Are you willing to honestly acknowledge the degree of your responsibility, and is there anything you could have done differently?.The next time you are faced with the prospect of explaining your actions, ask yourself "Is this an excuse or a valid reason?" Always find the courage to behave with integrity and honor your self-respect.
When faced with a choice, the question is what will you do?..Joy Fisher-Sykes is a professional speaker, author, and success coach in the areas of leadership, motivation, stress management, customer service, and team building. You can e-mail her at mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org, or call her at (757) 427-7032.
Go to her web site, http://www.thesykesgrp.com, and signup for the newsletter, OnPoint, and receive the free ebook, "Empowerment and Stress Secrets for the Busy Professional.".
By: Joy Fisher-Sykes