Yesterday I wrote a post on the difference between a reason and an excuse. The conclusion to that post was that you might have a reason for something but that a reason isn’t an excuse.
But sometimes you just happen to miss a deadline or you might really run late for a meeting. So then what? My advice: don’t apologize.
If you bump into someone on the train please DO apologize. If you forget your girlfriend’s birthday I suggest you apologize profusely. But in a business situation different rules apply. Let me explain…
A few years ago I had a meeting with a manager from a large company and I was a few minutes late. So as I sat down I started to explain why I was late and how sorry I was. He interrupted me and told me…
I didn’t understand what he meant so he explained:
‘If you are late, missed a deadline or did something wrong the people who like and respect you will understand that you didn’t mean for this to happen. Your excuse will only embarrass them.
The people who dislike you will take advantage of you putting yourself in that position. So don’t apologize. Just do better next time, and don’t let it happen again’
I never forgot his lesson and am frequently reminded of it in meetings. I see other people come in late and starting to apologize. It never looks good and they are always attacked or reprimanded by someone who dislikes them or is happy to finally get even.
If you are late for a meeting with several people don’t apologize when you enter the room. Just sit down and get to business, and do it quick. Don’t waste people’s time with your lame excuses. If you don’t they will assume that whatever happened must have been mighty important, otherwise you would have made up an excuse and told them that!
Just make sure it doesn’t happen too often…