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How to Separate Reasons From Excuses

How to Separate Reasons From Excuses

How to Separate Reasons From Excuses.

Managers need to understand the important difference between a "reason" and an "excuse" for not doing something.

Unfortunately, most managers have confused the issue by accepting into their minds, the concept of a "Reasonable-excuse".

The concept of a reasonable-excuse is a confusion. Reasons are very different from excuses.

What are the qualities that unify all reasons, and which make them REASONS?

And what are the opposing qualities that unify all excuses, and which make them EXCUSES?

What are the differences between a reason and an excuse?

All reasons are:

  1. True (honest).
  2. The person had no options, other than to act the way they did.
  3. The person has no control over circumstances.
  4. The behaviour was a one-off event.
  5. Their behaviour was reasonable under the circumstances.
  6. Their behaviour was a proportionate response to the situation.
  7. The event that caused the behaviour was unpredictable.

Whereas, excuses are wholly the opposite:

  1. Untrue (dis-honest).
  2. The person had many options but chose the wrong action
  3. The person had some control over circumstances but did not exercise any.
  4. Multiple use of the same old story.
  5. Their behaviour was UN-reasonable under the circumstances.
  6. Their behaviour was a DIS-proportionate response to the situation.
  7. The event that caused the behaviour, was easily predictable.

Managers must distinguish between reasons and excuses and have a different policy for each.

What should be your policy for those people who offer you valid reasons?

Negotiate with them and find a middle ground concession.

What should be your policy for those people who offer you only invalid excuses?

DON'T Negotiate with them and DON'T give them unearned concessions. Instead, stand firm!

For Example: Is this a Reason or an Excuse?

If I had been late for work on three consecutive days and you asked me why, and I replied, "Heavy traffic in the city-centre is why I have been late."

Would that be a valid reason that you should accept? If not, why not?


Managers need to be clear upon what they will accept as a reason, and what they will not. Our Conflict Management Training course deals with these issues.

About the Author: Chris Farmer


Chris Farmer is the founder of the Corporate Coach Group and has many years’ experience in training leaders and managers, in both the public and private sectors, to achieve their organisational goals, especially during tough economic times. He is also well aware of the disciplines and problems associated with running a business.

Over the years, Chris has designed and delivered thousands of training programmes and has coached and motivated many management teams, groups and individuals. His training programmes are both structured and clear, designed to help delegates organise their thinking and, wherever necessary, to improve their techniques and skills.

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