The other day, I walked in on my 4-year-old sitting inside the freezer drawer eating frozen whipped cream with his bare hands.
When I told him he was in trouble and needed to go to time-out, he melted down and started firing off excuses. I didn’t do it, it’s not my fault, I didn’t know, I was hungry, and repeated over and over during his 4-minute time out: “It’s not fair.”
Any parent can tell you that vehemently denying our own accountability by excusing our behavior is a primal human reaction. We make excuses as soon as we’re able to form the words to do so. The hope, however, is that with training and discipline, we grow out of this response as we become responsible, functioning adults.
That is not always the case.
Every day, I encounter adults spouting, “It’s not fair,” and other excuses. They do this to get out of things they don’t want to do, to place blame on others, to make themselves feel better or look better, and to justify bad behavior—all the same reasons toddlers make excuses.
Here are three ways that making excuses will negatively impact you at work.
1. Excuses Damage Relationships
When your client calls you upset about their latest statement, blaming the billing department makes you look petty to the client and selfish to the billing department. Blaming your co-workers shows that you are not a team player.
Placing blame on others is a form of complaining that can be very damaging to work relationships. When you bad-mouth others and they find out about it (which they inevitably will), it reflects poorly on you because you look unprofessional and whiny.
When you make excuses to clients, you are showing them that you don’t have control, and you lose a little bit of their trust.
2. Excuses Do Not Increase Sales
You could come up with a thousand reasons why you’re having a hard time finding viable leads or why it’s hard to close this month or why your numbers are down this year. But I’m here to tell you—excuses will solve exactly 0 of those problems.
There will always be factors outside of your control—the economy, technology, a global pandemic. Blaming your troubles on these things is reactionary.
Successful final expense and preneed insurance salespeople proactively problem-solve when they face obstacles. They don’t repeat “It’s not fair” like my toddler in time out.
3. Excuses Reduce Respect
Here’s the thing: in the workplace, excuses do not win you credit with your boss. The more excuses you use, the less your manager will respect your work. Blaming others makes you look weak and self-involved. Blaming outside forces make you look whiny and lazy. Blaming your boss, heaven forbid, will turn them against you very quickly.
The best preneed and final expense sales associates are proactive, they take accountability for their actions, they support others on the team, and they do not procrastinate.
Successful people make strides, not excuses.