CHOG #18 - What's YOUR Excuse?
Updated: Oct 14, 2022
Have you ever been asked, "So that’s your excuse?”, when someone is pointing out something you may not have done, or something you did or said that they don’t like, or are wondering why you acted in a certain way? Sometimes I respond, “No that’s my reason, not my excuse”. So, what’s the difference? Let’s try and figure it out….
Excuse: a reason (there’s that word!) or explanation put forward to defend or justify a fault or offensive.
Reason: a cause, explanation, or justification for an action or event.
Both of these definitions come from Oxford Languages. I don’t really see much of a difference in their meaning or maybe in the way they are used in our language. Do you? I see the same words being used in both definitions to give the “meaning” of these two different words! But, there is a difference…
In my book, INSERT GIGGLE GIGGLE, Laughing Your Way through Raising Kids and Running A Business, I have all sorts of stories throughout the book on excuses for certain behaviors. There are excuses for the way we discipline or don’t discipline our children, there are excuses for the way certain business issues were or were not handled, and there’s even a whole chapter on entitlement (which can give any of us all sorts of excuses as to the reason we think we should be treated a certain way). Interesting, huh? I didn’t realize until just now that I live in a world of a whole lot of excuses, trying to reason my way out of a lot of things (insert giggle giggle). How about you?
In the early part of my book, I explain the “giggle giggle” a little. I shed light on a personality trait of mine that sometimes I giggle about something that might be uncomfortable about myself or maybe to try and diffuse a situation. I think this can sometimes be refreshing and sometimes annoying to my family. We all have our distinct personalities and mine, I think, is one of laughing at a lot of things in life, thus when I giggle at an uncomfortable situation, it doesn’t seem so out of character. Sometimes the giggle is while I am explaining a “reason”, an “excuse” for my own behavior or opinion and sometimes I giggle while making an excuse for the behavior of someone else close to me. Of course, if I feel really passionate about what someone is “accusing me of” or telling me that I am wrong or questioning my character, there is no giggle happening (insert a giggle giggle!).
George Washington said “It is better to offer no excuse than a bad one”. Benjamin Franklin said “He that is good for making excuses is seldom good for anything else”. And many of us have heard the adage, “Excuses are like ass h**es everyone has one”. I don’t know who to attribute that to, but another wise person as well.
But what about when there is a good reason for the way we are behaving that someone else thinks an unjustified excuse? Above it seems that I am not shedding a very good light on someone who is honestly trying to put into words why they acted in a certain way, trying to excuse their behavior. Sometimes someone may be trying to make us think what we did was wrong or unnecessary and we stick to our guns, trying to win them over to our point of view. Just because someone is accusing us of making an excuse about behavior, ideas, or actions they don’t agree with, doesn’t mean that we are wrong, thus trying to excuse ourselves. However, sometimes, in the moment, we think what we are doing is totally right…but then…we may see later that indeed, it was not right (either because of our own reflection or someone explaining to us why it was wrong or unnecessary) BUT because we don’t want to appear wrong, that’s when we start excusing our behavior instead of simply acknowledging that we were wrong. Even when we agree that what we did wasn’t right, we still want others to understand our reasoning at the time. I think we all can get caught up in this behavior and definition of excuse. At least that’s my take on it. But really, whoever we are making these excuses to, most often does not really want to hear any of that, especially in the business world – acknowledge and just move on.
My son, William, was once in a job interview with steep competition, and one of the questions he was asked, was to give an example of a mistake he had made and how he took ownership of it. Wow! Re-read those words. Not, how did you handle it but how did you take ownership of the mistake. How many of us could give a quick example of something like that? The interview question already made the acknowledgement that a mistake was made, no reason to excuse a true mistake is there? How quickly would you want to start giving an excuse for that mistake, you know…so that your prospective boss doesn’t think you actually made a big mistake or if you did, that it wasn’t your fault? Who would want to hire someone that can immediately point to a big mistake they made? Well, lots of people would. Someone who can acknowledge a mistake, say how they took ownership of it and how they learned from that mistake, is a valuable person to have on your team. People who can’t admit to being human, making mistakes, but instead whine about an injustice or place blame, isn’t someone you want to hire or promote or maybe even have a meaningful relationship with.
So, as has happened in so many of my Giggle Chogs, I have learned something about myself. I have made mistake after mistake in trying to force reason into an excuse. As parents we often want so desperately to make something right that isn't when it comes to our child, making excuse after excuse and trying to force reasoning into a situation for the best outcome for our child. As an adult, I will go to great lengths, when it is accurately pointed out that I am in the wrong, to make sure that what I “thought” (at the time) is taken into consideration. And if I am being honest, I still think, even after all of this investigation and soul-searching, that in some situations, it is okay and even necessary to let someone that you have wronged know that you sincerely “thought” what you were doing or saying was not wrong, at that time. How’s that for reasoning……(insert giggle giggle). But don’t you somewhat agree? There are instances where I would hate for someone to think I did something without regard for the consequences when that is not the truth – you can be wrong and still be so innocently, right. Okay okay….enough of the excuses.
But you know what….also in my investigation into the word, excuse, I also found that it can also be used as a verb. In this way it means to pardon or forgive; to overlook a fault in someone; and finally, it is also used to say you are sorry for something you have done by accident. So, I think I like knowing that I may be asking forgiveness for something I failed at instead of trying to justify why I did it. Let’s go with that meaning of excuse (insert giggle giggle).
Next up….Do You Remember When…..?
Always remember to insert a giggle giggle ~ Kay 😊