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Stop Making Lame Excuses!!! Admit when you are Wrong!
Ever since the Garden of Eden people have made excuses for their mistakes. You see Adam blaming Eve and Eve blaming the snake, but neither one of them admit that they were to blame for their actions. Admitting wrong doing on one’s part is the hardest thing anyone can do. It is not in our nature to do so. Lame excuses are often the result of this.
I read an article in Reader’s Digest Magazine titled, you guessed it “Lame Excuse” I was appalled at some of the excuses people make up just to save face or simply avoid trouble. Here’s a couple of examples made by employees for missing work “I dreamed I was fired, so I didn’t want to get out of bed’, “I was up all night arguing with God”, and “My dog dialed 911 and the police wanted to question me about what “really’ happened.” You can see that it is amazing the length people will go to hide the mistake of simply taking an unauthorized day of. If only these people realized that employers hate dishonesty as much as they hate truancy?
There are lame excuses that have made famous people and important dignitaries jump of the page. When former President Bill Clinton was asked if he had smoked pot he answered “I didn’t inhale and never tried it again.” This lame excuse really didn’t help the former president, when it came having credibility. Even today many people remember this incident. Wouldn't it have been wiser for Mr. Clinton to simply say that he wasn’t perfect when he was young and that he has learned from his mistakes, therefore, making people realize that the president is only human, but that he also had the integrity to admit he made mistakes in the past? Chances are the public would have been less critical of the former president, and more sympathetic.
Admitting when you’re wrong does not only preserve one’s integrity, but it is also a great way of winning others to your way of thinking. In Dale Carnegie’s landmark book on better communication, titled How to Win Friends & Influence People, Mr. Carnegie advises the reader to admit when he is wrong. Even though most of us are tempted to justify ourselves when we make a mistake, we must combat our human nature and admit when we did wrong.
There is a proverb that says “By fighting you never get enough, but by yielding you get more than you expected.” Another way to put it is that by excusing your actions and insisting they are right, you will get rebuked, but by admitting you were wrong, you will be justified or at least be given a merciful response.
In his book, Dale Carnegie tells the story of when he walked his dog through a stretch of land called Forest Park. Even though, Carnegie is a true law abiding citizen his dog preferred to go on the walks through this lonely park without a leach and a muzzle. The place was deserted and Mr. Carnegie had a small friendly dog and he saw no harm in it. Suddenly, while he walked his dog, he encountered a mounted policeman that chided him for letting the dog walk without a leach and muzzle. Mr. Carnegie being a master of communication first tried a soft reply, to try to justify his actions. The policeman responded in anger and insisted that his action were reckless. The officer even threatened to take him to court if he saw him walk his dog again without a leash and muzzle. Mr. Carnegie meekly promised to obey.
He tried to walk his dog with the leash and muzzle, but both he and the dog found it cumbersome and unnecessary. He then walked his dog again without the proper leash and muzzle and was spotted by the same police officer. Imagine the temptation Mr. Carnegie would have had to justify himself, especially when faced with the possibility of a fine. Instead Mr. Carnegie tried a different approach.
This time Mr. Carnegie responded by saying the following: “Officer you caught me red handed, I’m guilty, and I have no alibis, no excuses. You warned me last week that if I brought the dog out here again without a muzzle, you would fine me.” Mr. Carnegie’s willingness to admit his mistake got a very benevolent response from the police officer. The officer said to Mr. Carnegie “I know it’s a temptation to let a little dog like that have a run out here when nobody is around.” To which Mr. Carnegie responded “but it’s against the law.” To which the officer replied “Well a little dog like that is not going to harm anyone” Then Mr. Carnegie said “No, but he may kill squirrels.” Then the officer responded by saying “Well now, I think you are taking this a bit to seriously,” Then he said “You just take him over the hill where I can’t see him and we’ll forget about it.”
Admitting that he was at fault not only got the officer to be merciful to Mr. Carnegie, but it also got him of the hook and the officer was even willing to compromise with Mr. Carnegie. You may want to try this next time you get a speeding ticket. Keeping a police officer from being on the defensive is very wise and may even keep you from getting a harsher penalty.
This happened to me. I was once driving through some canyon streets in California and because I was chatting with my mom, I didn’t realize I was driving over the speed limit. An officer caught me and proceeded to give me a ticket. Instead of griping or complaining, what I did was thank the officer when he handed me my citation and after that I politely asked where I could go to traffic school. The officer saw that I was chastised and rebuked, as well as willing to make amends. He responded very kindly and told me where to find a good traffic school and how to proceed in finding one. I didn’t get out of getting a ticket, but I did avoid getting into more serious problems.
People want to feel important and that you respect their position. Admitting you are wrong, when you are, is a way of showing them that you are humble enough to agree with them. This in turn brings out the best in others. It makes them want to be merciful; it takes them of the defensive so they are able to even see your side of the matter.
There may be times when you feel that you have no choice but to pretend you are perfect. Forget it; people know when you’re wrong. Former President Clinton had a very good reason for making up that lame excuse. After all, being the leader of a nation and having the title of Commander and Chief can be rather daunting and admitting to mistakes can be downright frightening, when one is in that position. Regardless, of his reasons people saw though his excuse and he got even more criticized. Instead he could have taken advantage of the occasion and seized the opportunity to warn young people against smoking pot and even used himself as an example. Chances are, he may have come across as not only as sincere, but brilliant; at the very least his integrity would have stayed intact.
Admitting one is wrong goes against the very grain of our human nature. I guess that is one of reasons the world is the way it is. Imagine a world were everyone had the graciousness to admit when they're wrong. I know such a world does not exist, but the possibility is encouraging. Let me leave you with one thought from Mr. Dale Carnegie “When we are right, lets try to win people gently and tactfully to our way of thinking, and when we are wrong---and that will be surprisingly often. If we are honest with ourselves—lets admit our mistakes quickly and with enthusiasm. Not only will that technique produce astonishing results; but believe it or not it is a lot more fun under the circumstances, than trying to defend oneself.”