There’s a common misunderstanding between the definition of excuses and the definition of reasons. This is important because while a possible stumbling block may need to be expressed, responsible people want to avoid making excuses.
Someone who makes excuses is a person who drains the energy of others, usually falls short of their promises and is unpleasant to be around. So I completely understand when my coaching clients want to stay out of their story and avoid excuses while needing the truth to be told in order to explain something.
The need to explain and desire to avoid excuses can be a fierce inner battle that creates negative emotions regardless of the topic and whether it began negative or not.
A responsible person has challenges just like an irresponsible person but there is a difference in how they look at it, how they handle it, think about it, feel about it and the ultimate outcome including the lesson they learn from it, which will be helpful later; something a person who makes excuses doesn’t even acknowledge exists!
We might not get something accomplished and need to explain why. We can share the situation and what got in the way of completion of our intention.
Example of A Reason:
I won’t be able to complete the blog post on the definition of excuses vs definition of reasons this morning because I have clients to coach today. I will complete it this afternoon.
This is truly a reason why something may not get done at the intended time. There is no sign of lack of responsibility. Even stating that you started later than expected is a reason, not an excuse. Sometimes illness is a reason – a valid reason if there truly is an illness.
A person of lower integrity may not accomplish something and they need to find a way to explain why not but don’t want to take responsibility. They don’t want to be accountable and even may have no intention of completing the task or project ever!
This person doesn’t want to be liable for anything that happens as a result of their falling short of their agreement, obligation or promise. This is a self esteem issue as in lack of confidence they can accomplish what they said they would and playing of the victim card (poor me). This person makes up an excuse, which in their mind is a reason but there are challenges in the truth of their story as well as many ways they could have taken responsibility to make it work if that’s what they really wanted.
Example of An Excuse:
I wasn’t able to complete the blog post on the definition of excuses vs the definition of reasons because my friend called right in the middle and had to tell me something and one of my three computers was acting up and I needed to schedule a spa appointment to relieve all this stress of writing blog posts!
Clearly, with three computers, the ability to let a call go to voicemail, and many hours in a day to book a spa appointment, these were all excuses used to shirk responsibility, liability and accountability.
Was the excuse example a little far-fetched? Maybe but you and I have undoubtedly heard some doosies and were likely amazed the person telling them considered them to be the slightest bit believable.
Just one of the excuses used above could have sufficed had it been real but those who make excuses tend to overdo it in an attempt to convince.
I always suggest trusting your gut feelings if you are unsure if someone is telling you a reason or tall tale excuse. Your gut feelings will ALWAYS lead you the right way.
Let’s define excuse and define reason so the distinction is clear and puts our mind to rest when we need to share a situation and are still in integrity with agreement.
Definition of Excuse:
An excuse intended to lessen or eliminate liability, accountability, or responsibility.
Definition of Reason:
A reason is an explanation given to an event or series of events.
This should assist you in being clear when you speak as well as add clarity to your understanding of what others are telling whether a reason or excuse.
I’d love to hear your thoughts and ideas about this topic. Please leave me a comment.
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14 thoughts on “Definition Of Excuses Versus Definition Of Reasons”
I’ve wondered about this more than once and now that I’ve read your blog post I see that it has caused more stress than I even knew!
I’m always afraid someone will think I’m making excuses if I don’t get something done even if I signed up for too much stuff and can’t do it all! I practically kill myself to get it done when I see that if I explain having taken on too much, it’s quite possible to move the target dates for completion and still be in integrity!
Bryn, you bring up such good points! Thank you for your comment.
It’s true, just a bit of understanding can feel like a lifesaver and certainly has the potential to keep us more relaxed while staying in integrity.
Life is too short to spend it in excuses. You never know if you have tomorrow. Watching my two boys grow up (almost before my eyes) is a constant reminder to savor each moment, live fearlessly and ditch excuses and live full-out. Sure stuff comes up in life. But I just readjust plans, timelines and get stuff done.
Thanks for the distinctions between excuses and reasons.
Thank you, Kirsten! “Life is too short to spend it in excuses.” That’s a great quote from your brain to my blog. LOL So many people live that way and like Bryn mentioned, she didn’t know she was a bit unsure about it until now. I’ve spoken with several coaching clients since writing this blog post this morning and they didn’t have a short, precise explanation of the differences to put into words like I hadn’t before I studied it a bit and did some Googling. 🙂
Wonderful post Kelly and you bring up some great points. In living in your truth and in integrity to yourself – excuses will disappear and reasons will appear. No excuse in healthy boundaries and zillion excuses in unhealthy boundaries.
Hope this makes sense,
Great job and here’s to living in the truth – like you said, your gut will tell you.
See you soon!
Nancy, I LOVE this quote of yours, “In living in your truth and in integrity to yourself – excuses will disappear and reasons will appear.” Thank you for your thoughts and kind words. I’m so excited to see you this week!!! It’s been over a YEAR! 🙂
This could shed some light for those who have difficulty with taking responsibility or being accountable. Many people can benefit from this kind of education and the distinction especially if they are interested in clearly seeing their behavior and the ramifications. Taking responsibility is the cornerstone of personal development and also the courageous thing to do. Thanks for putting this out there as some may not be aware of how this eats away at self-trust and the ability for others to trust them as well.
Thank you, Deborah. Spoken like the excellent coach you are! 🙂 I love this quote, “…some may not be aware of how this eats away at self-trust and the ability for others to trust them as well.” Self-trust is something I haven’t touched on and definitely a GREAT topic for a blog post!
Why, thank you Kelly! I appreciate the compliment. Although some may not be able to admit it, even those with limited self-awareness will know that they are falling short of their commitments or agreements which as you have mentioned, will undermine their self-esteem.
Very true. Our gut feelings tell us much more than most of us choose to pay attention to. Thanks, Deborah!
Very nicely written article and an excellent piece of information. I to love the quote by Nancy – “In living in your truth and in integrity to yourself – excuses will disappear and reasons will appear.” Now if I only had the time to apply this to my life hahaha.
Thank you very much, Frank! Yes, I take notes when Nancy and I speak because she has so many wonderful, short sound-bytes I just LOVE! 🙂 You have all the time in the world, 24 hours. It’s up to you what you do with it. I’m smiling…
My boyfriend said I was giving excuses when I say I didn’t notice a guy whom I say was hot stuff before. I had no interest in the guy that is why I didn’t admit I notice him because to me notice is having interest in that particular person. And I said I didn’t notice him I only looked at him [to me look and notice has two different meaning] then he asked if you didn’t notice him how do you know he’s hot stuff? Then I explained to him I know the guy’s brother and I said that his brother told us he gym. Then I think his body is hot. Can someone tell me if I’m giving excuses or giving explanation?
Thank you for your comment and question, Evelyn. I am not seeing an excuse in what you describe (although I’m fuzzy on the gym part). It sounds more like an explanation to me. It also sounds like you are being respectful of your boyfriend. He may see it differently based on his past experiences. Both confidence and insecurities play a big role in our conversations. 🙂