“I was sick.”
“Traffic was heavy.”
“The dog ate my homework.”
“My roommate got arthritis in his lungs.”
Let’s face it. As cliche and foolish as they might be, we all use excuses like these more than we would like to admit. If we do not want to be in a situation or predicament, our immediate response is to make an excuse. It isn’t my fault that people do this; it just happens. When glass breaks in a house, the children are quick to try to escape blame and create accounts for why they were not at the scene of the crime. Those same kids are not afraid to tell the teachers all sorts of mysterious tales about what happened to their assignments and projects.
Eventually, they transition into adulthood, still incorporating the habit of making excuses into their everyday lives. The term “mental-health day” becomes a reasonable excuse to vacation from work or school. “I have a family thing” or “I have to work” is the perfect way to avoid awkward meetings and uncomfortable dates. Want to spend the night catching up on season 3 of Gossip Girl? Well, you might just catch a case of contagious strep throat, stomach flu, or explosive diarrhea. Everyone is capable of making excuses including well-known people, like Bill Clinton and Hitler. But what makes a good excuse?
Well, if you haven’t excused yourself, you obviously want to know the answer – possibly because you are a horrible-excuse maker or your method just needs a bit of tweaking. At the end of the day, it just comes down to a few simple and easy tips.
1. Be mindful of whom you use your excuses on. The three most risky people to use excuses on are: parents, teachers, and cops. These three groups are trained to see straight through your ruse. They have heard it all. Not to mention, if you use the wrong excuse on cops, it could easily become your last excuse as a free person.
2. Use excuses in moderation. It is fine to have a “go to” excuse such as, “My (insert body part here) hurts.” However, do not use that excuse to the point of completely losing social contact with others or so much that people start believing you need to be hospitalized.
3. Sprinkle a bountiful amount of truth into your excuses so that they are as believable as possible. For example, if you are late to class, one of the worst possible excuses you could use on a professor would be that One Direction started to perform in Cruz Plaza, and you had to watch because you’re a huge fan of theirs. Instead, try using a more realistic story – the professor in your last class went over on time or you overslept. Just stay as close to the truth as possible, while also creating a legitimate excuse.
4. Keep a close watch on your excuse-telling technique. In the most basic and technical terms, an excuse is nothing more than a little white lie that makes people shrug and turn away. So, treat it like any other comment or statement. Look the person in the eyes, try not to stutter, avoid fidgeting, and stand by your story as much as you can without losing your resolve. Excuses are great and masterful weapons, but with great power comes even greater responsibility.