We have heard the phrase, “I will not tolerate any excuse…” all our lives, be it our teachers, your senior in the corporate world or perhaps your spouse. But why is it so frowned upon, why the disinclination towards an excuse. I wonder if you have ever thought about the phrase “Excuse me” deeply, have you? Today we look into it…
I remember when somebody used to forget completing their homework and as the reasons were coming out of their mouth the teacher would interrupt and tell the student to shut up and ‘stop making excuses’. It would always trouble me, so much so that even having a reason like being sick wouldn’t calm my brain against the forth coming rage of my teacher.
The literal meaning of excuse is ‘trying to justify’ or ‘seek to attach the blame’. But the thing that is fascinating to me is the fact that it’s the best defence of someone in authority to attach blame, justifying his/her lack in results (let say) to the higher authority. Let me elaborate…
Blame-game and excuses are somewhat synonyms, but we know that some blames are correct as well, or rather justifiable. Now, reason of a particular scenario is a blame-game as well, per-say. Why is it hot? It’s summer. Why don’t you know about Dostoyevsky? Because I’m in 2nd grade. These cases seem plain enough to recognise the sense of clarification/reason/blame/excuse towards a fault (that also depends to the perception of the other side). But where does all this fit into the narrative of excuses, as in excuses made to change/hide the reality. Believe it or not, hating excuses is to a high degree dependant on individuals and their temperament and or the stakes for a mistake.
Let’s take an ordinary example of an argument between couples: They have planned a dinner tonight and the husband had already cleared his schedule for the day, but, something came up and he was called by his boss, the wife clearly understands the situation and just calmly asks him to return early, so that they can enjoy the night-out. The dinner is scheduled at 8pm and the guy is stuck in traffic at 7:30pm. He reaches home at 8:30pm and returns to an angry wife ready in her dress that she saved for this special occasion. She’s disappointed and he is tired and you know the rest, no dinner. The husband starts making excuses and she doesn’t like it, the mood goes off and they sleep with anger spiralling in their heads.
Now obviously it could’ve been the other way around, but the point is that here the justification that the guy makes can be looked at as excuse and reason simultaneously. The reason why we hate excuses has more to do with predisposed perspective that excuse means he/she is lying and the human psychology than mere situation. Even when we say ‘excuse me’ we are implying to a reason that others trust us enough, for us to leave the group momentarily or not. The problem I have with situations in which the expectation is high and everything is propounded to be perfect is that when something bad happens, the mere act of calling him/her out for being an excuse-maker is that we nullify everything he/she may say in defence that actually is a reason than a blame point to hide their faults.
All this reminds me of pygmalion effect, but anyway, what we need to remember is that being aware of our presuppositions towards minute things like excuses and stuff can go a long way in solving situations where even when one is to blame, all the time is used to recover and not to shame.