6 Excuses Never to Give (and 3 That Are Fine)
Giving excuses is almost never a good idea: The other person will be annoyed about your original mistake, plus aggravated that you’re trying to evade responsibility.
However, if you have a valid justification, such as, “I’m sorry I missed our presentation on Friday, a family member was unexpectedly sick,” or “My apologies for the email snafu; our server has been acting up recently,” then you’re not making excuses at all.
To learn which reasons are acceptable, and which will harm your professional reputation, read on.
1. You were busy.
Like it or not, in this day and age everyone is busy. Telling someone you messed up because you had a busy schedule makes you seem self-important and petulant.
2. You overslept.
We have alarms on our phones, smart watches, tablets, computers and, of course, clocks. That means oversleeping is essentially impossible if you’ve thought in advance.
3. You forgot.
Although things inevitably fall through the cracks, try to steer clear of this excuse. After all, it suggests whatever you didn’t do wasn’t very important to you. If it had been, you would have remembered.
4. You weren’t prepared.
Even though your job description might not mention preparation, you’re required to take the appropriate measures before anything—be it a meeting, presentation, or project. Never tell someone you didn’t do a good job (or any job at all) because you didn’t prepare.
5. You didn’t feel like it.
It’s normal to dislike certain tasks or occasionally wish you could blow the day off. But does that mean you can indulge your desires? Of course not. Professionals keep their commitments even when they’d rather not.
6. You didn’t know enough.
Maybe your boss gives you a task without sufficient instructions, or you tackle a project that’s beyond your experience or abilities. If your results are unsatisfactory, don’t blame your ignorance. There are two ways to overcome a knowledge or skills gap: Ask someone else for help, or use online or internal resources to figure out the problem. Choosing to do neither suggests you’re not self-motivated.
1. You’re sick.
When you’re feeling unwell, staying home isn’t just good for your health: It’s good for everyone else’s, too. No one wants you to delay your recovery and spread the illness around by coming into the office.
2. You had an emergency.
Crises happen. A friend needs help and you’re the only person he can ask, your car gets a flat tire on the way to the airport, one of your children gets hurt—the list of potential urgent situations is infinite.
3. There were variables outside your control.
Some professionals take the “no excuses” policy too far and withhold crucial details that might change their manager or coworker’s perception of the issue. Suppose you’re asked to prepare a report on the organization’s data security. After you finish, your team member tells you she accidentally gave you the wrong data, so you’ll need to redo a large portion of the work. Telling your supervisor why the report will be late isn’t making an excuse or throwing your coworker under the bus: it’s helping him understand the delay.
About Signature Consultants, LLC
Headquartered in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, Signature Consultants was established in 1997 with a singular focus: to provide clients and consultants with superior staffing solutions. For the seventh consecutive year, Signature was voted as one of the “Best Staffing Firms to Work For” and is now the 14th largest IT staffing firm in the United States (source: Staffing Industry Analysts). With 26 locations throughout North America, Signature annually deploys thousands of consultants to support, run, and manage their clients’ technology needs. Signature offers IT staffing, consulting, managed solutions, and direct placement services. For more information on the company, please visit www.sigconsult.com.