Established, since 1997, leading UK based training provider.

Reason Vs Excuse

Reason vs Excuse

Here is an important rule of thumb: Clear thought is good. Confused thought is bad.

The first step to wisdom is to have an accurate conception of things. Unfortunately, there is a series of "similar but opposite things" - dichotomies - that confuse the mind.

Dichotomies confuse the mind because their two branches seem to be intermingled.

Examples of such dichotomies are:

  • Reason vs Excuse
  • Determined vs Stubborn
  • Fact vs Opinion
  • Insult vs Criticism

It is important to distinguish between a "reason" and an "excuse".

It's good to be determined but not stubborn.

Learn to separate facts from opinions.

It is important to distinguish between a criticism and an insult.

Don't take valid criticism as a personal insult, and don't insult people and then pretend that it was merely "constructive criticism".

So what is the difference between these dichotomies?

Reason vs Excuse

Reason

A reason for not doing something.

If someone offers an explanation for why he can't do something, then, in order for it to be judged as a reason, it should be: logical, factual, verifiable, a one-off event, unavoidable, and commensurate.

Excuse

If someone offers an explanation why he can't do something, then, in order for it to be judged as an excuse it will be:

False (a lie), illogical, un-verifiable, multiple use of the same old story, inconsistent, avoidable, foreseeable, disproportionate.

Example: I can't come into work today because my hamster is sick.

Don't get these two mixed up!

Determined vs Stubborn

Determined

Determined means committed to the goal: no matter what temporary defeats you suffer, you keep adapting the plan and trying again.

Stubborn

Stubborn means committed to the one PLAN: no matter what temporary defeats you suffer, you keep doing the same thing over and over and refuse to change or adapt the plan.

Don't get these two mixed up!

Fact vs Opinion

Fact

A fact is information provided by direct sense perception (what you directly see, touch, hear, taste or smell) ie the redness of a tomato.

And/or the information that has been tested and verified by objective and independent experimentation and scientific investigation. ie the Earth has the shape of an oblate spheroid.

Opinion

Information that is gained by any other means: ie gut feel; majority vote, subjective feeling, revelations or wishful thinking.

Example: Modern art is not real art.

Don't get facts and opinions mixed up!

Insult vs Criticism

Insult

An insult is a feedback message that is: vague, subjective, opinionated. And does not suggest a specific corrective action.

Example: You are an idiot.

Insults are of no value to you or your organisation.

Criticism

A criticism is the opposite

A criticism is a feedback message that is:

Specific, factual, objective and does suggest a corrective action.

Example: You are twenty minutes late for the meeting. That is five times you been late this month alone. You need to be on time for meetings.

Criticism is of the highest value to you and your organisation.

Don't get criticism and insults mixed up!

The art of distinguishing between two similar concepts.

See how many dichotomies you can identify and define the distinguishing characteristics that make one good, and the other bad.

Here are some more dichotomies for you to ponder:

A false statement and a lie

A lady once said to me "Either you accept what I say as being true, or you are calling me a liar!"

What is wrong with this false dichotomy?

Critical thinker and Cynic

Do you know people who believe they are critical thinkers, but actually they are only miserable cynics?

If you do know some cynics, then what is it that defines them as cynics, not as critics?

Don't get critics and cynics mixed up!

Understanding and Agreement

Have you ever made an agreement based on a misunderstanding?

Never make agreements based on misunderstandings. So, what is the difference?

The first step to wisdom is to have accurate conceptions of things:

Clear thought is good. Confused thought is bad.

Summary

Dichotomies are similar but opposite things; that are confusing to the mind, because their meanings seem to be intermingled.

There are many dichotomies, see if you can find them. Then separate them out and distinguish between them. Finally never get them mixed up again!

Leadership Training - The Effective Leader Manager

Leadership Training - The Effective Leader Manager

As the team leader or manager, you know that, on the technical level, you are very good. In your role as an effective and inspirational leader-manager, you recognise that there may be some gaps. Now you are searching for a method to help you to improve your skills as a team-leader and manager - click here to find out more!

Your Comments

Further Reading in Conflict Management and Handling Difficult People

  • Management training - How to give constructive criticism
    How to give constructive criticism All good managers should be given sufficient management training so that they are able to give "constructive criticism". Not destructive. Constrictive criticism is defined as: "A specialised form of communication that identifies a wrong action and seeks to gain a commitment to change it to a...
    Read Article >
  • Managing difficult people
    Managing difficult people At work, are there some people that are difficult to deal with? Yes. The problem is this: you don't really get on with these people, but you cannot avoid them, because you work with them. In your private life you can choose with whom you spend your time...
    Read Article >
  • Giving constructive criticism
    Giving constructive criticism For most people, criticism is regarded as a negative distasteful thing. Criticism is something to be avoided. Giving criticism is something that you should not do to others. Most people regard criticism as bad. But I would like to suggest that criticism is not necessarily bad. Proper Criticism...
    Read Article >
  • Handling difficult people
    Handling difficult people Some of your managers are not very good at handling difficult people. Sometimes they mismanage the situation and make matters even worse. You need to be able to handle difficult people correctly. But how? Here are some tips: There are three fundamental ways for people to be...
    Read Article >
  • Grievances at Work
    Grievances at work are generally caused by what someone said or didn't say, or what a person did or didn't do. Obviously, prevention is preferable to trying to sort out a grievance. But what if you already have an issue. Try this six-step method...
    Read Article >