How To Deal With Someone That Makes Excuses


Excuses, we’ve all made them.

I’d be a liar if I said that I never made an excuse to try and get out of doing something. Oh, not to mention the endless excuses I’ve made for my food choices over the years or some of my less than desirable decisions, particularly when it came to relationships. And yes, I’ve even made excuses for a loved one's behavior.Excuses are often fear-based barriers. They're used to defend or justify a behavior or even a non-action.

​“The only thing standing between you and your goal is the bullshit story you keep telling yourself as to why you can't achieve it.”
― Jordan Belfort

We use them to get out of something that we don’t want to do.
We use them to protect ourselves from potential embarrassment.
We hide behind them to avoid a potential failure.
They’re a frickin’ self-imposed boulder that sits smack in the middle of what we want, trying to squish the life out of it.
They’re a story telling tool that we engage when our belief in our own abilities and ourselves is waning.
They’re a best friend to our itty bitty sh*tty committee members (our internal naysayers).
And if we’re really being honest with ourselves, they’re just plain dishonest.
Worse yet, they’re a great way to diminish our own personal power.

Does any of this resonant?
Are you tired of excuses, yours or someone else’s?
If you answered “yes” then please keep reading.

WHAT TO DO WHEN WE MAKE EXCUSES

The key to creating any type of change in behavior is recognizing when we are participating in that behavior. This is often the hardest part, since the behavior may be a habit and something we do as an automatic default.

When it comes to excuses, it helps if we take inventory of the times when we’ve made an excuse. Looking for any patterns or commonalities. For example, maybe we make excuses when we are feeling overwhelmed. Maybe we make them when we are feeling criticized. Maybe we make them when are scared to step outside our comfort zone.

Regardless of when they appear, being able to identify the triggers and circumstances helps us to be more proactive going forward.

With awareness in hand, here are some things we can do to step away from the excuse and move more towards action.

Instead of “yes, but”...how about a “yes, and”...
Saying “yes, and” opens the channels of thought. It gives us a chance to look for the opportunities, as opposed to the barriers.

What’s at the source?
It helps if we pause and ask ourselves “What's causing this excuse?” It’s in the awareness that we then are able to create options.

Pro and con
Speaking of options, when it comes to taking actions that scare the crap out of us, before we engage that excuse, start making a pro vs. con list. With information in hand we can then make a decision as to what to do.

“What’s the worst thing that could happen?”
I love asking my clients and myself this question when on the verge of an excuse. And I don’t just stop with “What’s the worst thing that could happen?” I continue asking…”And then what?” until all scenarios are present and accounted for.

Leverage them
Yep, you read right. We can use our excuses as an indicator that what we want to do/about to do is important.

Be honest
Instead of making an excuse it helps if we are honest about why we don’t wish to do something, what we are feeling, or why we may be hesitant. There’s a lot of power in being honest.

DEALING WITH EXCUSE MAKERS

If you’re not someone who makes excuses, but you have people in your world that do, here are some tips for dealing.

Take deep breathes
Excuse makers can push some major buttons so taking a few deep breathes before responding to the excuse maker and their excuse helps avoid creating further issues.

Ask curiosity-based questions
Asking questions can help us and the other person get to the source of the excuse and find a way to constructively deal with it.

Share your concerns
In a constructive and caring way, share our concerns with the other person, letting them know that we are there to support them and not judge them.

It’s not us, it’s them
​Remind ourselves that the person is not making an excuse because of who we are or something we did. They’re making the excuse based of their own “stuff.”

“It is better to offer no excuse than a bad one.” ― George Washington

At the end of the day, we all deserve better than excuses. I’m going to be on the look out for my own excuses so I can step away from them and more towards action. How about you?

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