Professionals Don’t Offer Excuses

by Jennifer Miller on June 1, 2011

in Communication, Personal Effectiveness


As a workplace professional, you know that making excuses doesn’t cut it, so you strive to avoid acting the victim if your work actions don’t make the grade. But is there ever a time when an explanation is warranted to help clarify your actions? After all, because you’re a professional and you always aim to do your best, there’s a perfectly good reason why you didn’t make that deadline, right? (Or, call back the customer, or whatever.) And you would really appreciate it if the listener would just hear you out for a moment.

Maybe an explanation is needed, but more often than not  I find that one’s need to explain their actions borders on excuse-making. Sometimes, no matter our best intentions, we mess up. And I’ll let you in on a little secret—nobody really cares why you messed up. The mistake has been made and no amount of “explaining” it will negate that fact. They only care about how the mistake is going to be fixed.  A consummate professional understands that this is not the time to problem-solve the reasons for the mistake. That comes later. Instead, he or she owns up and says  “Yes, I did this. I own this mistake. I apologize, and here’s how I’m going to fix it.”All that explanations do is waste time that could be spent rectifying the problem. So the next time you find yourself on the verge of explaining your actions, ask yourself:

Am I being asked to describe the reason behind my actions?

If so, feel free to offer a brief rationale as to your actions.

However, if you are being asked whether or not you achieved the task/project/goal, no matter what the reason, look the inquirer in the eye and give them a straight yes or no answer. They may not be happy with your answer, but they’ll appreciate your No Excuses approach.

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Jennifer June 1, 2011 at 3:15 pm


LOL! Given that your site is No Excuses HR, it makes sense that you’d love this post 🙂

A little shout-out for your most recent post and your blog: it’s a great one!

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