We can make excuses or we can make progress. It’s tough to do both. Benjamin Franklin was a wise man with much to offer. While he admitted to falling short of his many goals, he was a great man for trying to improve. One of his greatest lessons was to never ruin an apology with an excuse.
We’ve all heard them and we’ve made them from time to time. Some make them more than others. Some seem to make them always. In any event, they’re dangerous.
“I’m sorry, I just (insert blah excuse here).” We shouldn’t justify what we did with an excuse. In fact, it’s way better to show our apologies than say our apologies. Excusing the reasons why we made an error is letting ourselves off the hook. And that’s what excuses are, opportunities to excuse ourselves. See how that works?
A great apology sounds like, “I’m sorry for calling you this name.” Here, we point out how we are sorry and then say what we are sorry for. Even offering an explanation is not a bad idea, simply to show where we were coming from. “I allowed my emotions to get the best of me and I don’t really think that, at least not all the time.” This sort of explanation is different from an excuse. An excuse might sound like, “I said it because you called me (blank).” Here, we thought we would be excused, or we’ve excused ourselves simply because another person did something.
Or, apologize none. And that’s not a stubborn approach to say we’ve done nothing wrong. Instead, realize that the best way to apologize is not to do such a thing again. Better yet, show you’re sorry with a nice gesture. No matter what,