Most bosses just plain don’t want to hear excuses at all, but sometimes you don’t have a choice. The Wall Street Journal breaks down the dos and don’t for those moments.
Sometimes, things just happen and you can’t get your job done properly. The Wall Street Journal looked at a few studies to see what tends to work best. Here are a few types of excuses that people usually prefer hearing:
- Handicap yourself: “My presentation might be a little off today, I’m nursing a sore throat.”
- Show empathy: Doing your work much have been incredibly difficult without access to those files.
- Deflect blame: “If only Henry had given me more detailed data, I could have turned in a more thorough report.”
- Seek perfection: “I’m almost ready with the report, but I need to refine a few more details.”
And what doesn’t tend to work that well:
- The lame excuse: “I fell terrible about missing that presentation to the executive committee, but I got stuck in traffic.”
- The self-serving story: “How could I have come close to making my quota when nobody is buying real estate. The economy is putrid.”
- The devil made me do it: “Please excuse me for blowing up. I’m so passionate about what we’re doing here that I got wound up too tight.”
So, if you have to make an excuse for messing something up at work, stick with one of the ones that work. It turns out people just don’t have that much empathy for you when you’re stuck in traffic.
Making Excuses that Actually Work [The Wall Street Journal]