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Simple or Contrived, Excuses Are a Fact of Life

November 07, 1988|KATHLEEN DOHENY

They concur that women and men both make excuses but differ in their approach. "Men use more rudimentary excuses," Synder says. "And women tend to be more facile verbally. They are perhaps more sensitive to cues and situations and what might actually work."

Both genders are equally slow to recognize their own excuse making. "Nobody thinks they're an excuse maker," Synder says. "When you're in a jam, you have explanations or reasons for what you do."

Be careful not to fall into the "self-handicapping" trap--admitting failures before performance in the hope of avoiding criticism. And even the most finely crafted, effective excuses will wear thin with overuse, experts agree.

The reactions of others is one cue. "Other people will begin to give you feedback," Synder says. "They'll begin to call you on it."

Be wary, too, of using excuses out of proportion to the problem or confusing excuses with lies, he adds. "Good excuse making is based on reality or a version of reality you believe. Lying is not."

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