No matter how good of a person you say you are, we all make excuses. Whether we have missed someone’s birthday, were late to an important event or forgot to call someone we promised to call, we always make up excuses. We all try to figure out the most efficient way to convince the victim of our actions that those actions were justified. More often than not, this involves lying.
The goal of this post is not to teach you how to make excuses or concoct foolproof lies; it is to offer some crucial advice. The greatest excuse you can ever give is the truth. Before we explain why, we would like to discuss the excuses people give and how they measure up to the real story:
Excuses we use:
- The Truth – Out of Context
You have forgotten to invite a friend to a party. When you are confronted days later, you tell him that you thought he would not enjoy himself at the party due to events that you could not have foreseen before the party started. Though you fully believe that your friend would not have enjoyed himself, that is not the full truth. That was not the reason why you did not invite him.
- Part of the Truth
You do not want to attend your friend’s baby shower. You tell her that you have to visit with relatives from out of town that day. The reality is that the baby shower will be over and cleaned up by the time your family comes to visit – you just didn’t want to go.
- Version of Truth
You are out shopping and realize that you are late to your friend’s birthday party. Subsequently, you get stuck in traffic. So, you blame your tardiness on the traffic alone. But, was that the reason why you were late? The truth? No. You had lost track of time and got stuck in traffic on the way.
- The Truth
It is less stressful to tell the truth. This is a cold hard fact. If you tell the truth, you will never have to keep track of the excuses you have made or the stories you have told. Everyone forgets things like birthdays, is late to meetings or events and even has a bad day once in a while. All of these mistakes are common mistakes, which make them relatable. When you tell the truth and give 100% honesty, people are more likely to empathize with you and see things from your perspective. The result? People are more likely to forgive those they believe are telling the truth.
Why We Do It
We give all of the excuses we give because we believe that they will make both parties involved feel better about a particular situation. (EXAMPLE: If I tell you that I was late because of the traffic, and I wasn’t, you will feel better because you think it wasn’t my fault. Because of that, I will feel better due to the fact that you don’t believe it is my fault.) Making excuses is our way of avoiding confrontation.
A psychologist at Gettysburg College studied the aforementioned types of excuses and wondered if they actually work. The truth: excuses can work.
However, for an excuse to work, it has to be detailed enough to be believable while justifying your actions. Do you know which excuse offers that type of information? The truth! Giving a detailed account of the reality of the situation will make your (true) story seem believable, thus allowing the victim of your actions to feel validated. Being honest with your friends and family members allows for a deeper bond between you. (Also, telling the truth to close friends and family shows them that they are worth more than a silly excuse that you just imagined – that they deserve to know the truth.)
Justifying your behavior won’t change it. Whether you tell the truth or make an excuse, your actions have remained the same. Telling the truth is one way for you to have peace of mind. You will not have to keep track of excuses or worry about someone finding out that you have lied to them. Also, telling the truth can be liberating.
At the beginning of this post, we made a statement about what type of person you are. We would like to believe that you think of yourself as a god person. You believe that you a myriad of positive things including honest, empathetic and forgiving. This is your self-image. Giving excuses and making up lies may counter your self-image and generate bad feelings that you have about yourself. It is important to act according to your self-image. If you see yourself as an honest person, acting as an honest person would act can do wonders for your self-esteem and image.