When my husband and I first got married, one of the areas we had conflict in was with excuses. My husband was raised to never make excuses, so it drove him up the wall when I did. However, from my perspective I often just wanted to share my thought process. I didn’t think I was giving excuses, I thought I was giving reasons.
Have you ever thought or said that? “I’m not giving an excuse, I’m giving a reason!” I sure have. Problem was, I didn’t really have the slightest clue what the difference between the two was.
Well, fast forward a couple years and I think I’ve finally got it figured out. In this current season of life, I’ve tried to do a better job about being intentional in my thoughts and a while back it occurred to me what the difference between an excuse and a reason is.
When I make an excuse, I am trying to shift the blame (even if its just a small portion) off of myself. For example, something I might find myself saying is “I didn’t wash the dishes last night because I was frazzled from a long day.” In this scenario, my long day was an excuse for my inability to complete one of my responsibilities. In my mind I might be thinking, “but I really did have a long day! I just wanted to relax. I’m not trying to make excuses.” However, no matter how big my pouty face may be, I am still making an excuse.
Now, if I took that same scenario and changed it into a reason it might look a little more like this: “I decided not to do the dishes last night because I had a really hectic day and I felt like I needed some time to unwind. I will do the dishes this morning after breakfast.” In this statement, I am providing the same information about doing the dishes and my hectic day, however, the difference is that I am taking responsibility for my choices. I gave a reasonable explanation for why I did what I did. I also took responsibility for the consequences of my decision (having to do the dishes in the morning).
I have found that realizing this distinction greatly aids in communication. It’s not just my husband who doesn’t like to hear an excuse. For a lot of people, as soon as they think you are giving an excuse, communication starts to break down. However, if you give a reason and take responsibility, the other party is able to better hear your reasoning and come to an understanding of what you are trying to say.
Unfortunately, this doesn’t necessarily mean it’s easy to give reasons instead of excuses. I often find myself squirming inside as I take responsibilities for my choices. If I’m honest, it’s so much easier to just make an excuse! However, I am trying to be better in this area, and I have noticed a difference.
What do you think? Will you give it a try in your communication? If you do, please share in the comments how it went down!