There’s No Excuse for Excuses at Work

“I just put a casserole in the oven.”

“My plastic surgery needed some ‘tweaking’ to get it just right.”

“I got stuck in the blood pressure machine at the grocery store and couldn’t get out.”

Admittedly, these excuses for missing work (courtesy of are a bit absurd, but they can help you appreciate a manager’s point of view, which is:

There’s no excuse for excuses at work!


While white lies, selective omissions and “versions” of the truth may seem harmless, they can catch up with you – and have serious consequences. Here are a few other work situations in which you’re always better off telling the truth:

When you’re late to work.

True, traffic snarls do occur. And yes, sometimes the bus does run behind schedule. Supervisors and managers realize this, but they’re also pretty savvy at detecting lies. They’re much more likely to give you a pass if you come clean and don’t try to “pull the wool over their eyes.” So if you slept through your alarm, just admit it. And don’t let it happen again.

When you’re not prepared.

Coming to a meeting ill-equipped? Trying to “wing” a presentation? It can be tempting to try to finger-point and make it look like it’s not your fault. But while your team may accept a one-time excuse, they’re just as likely to be annoyed by your attempt to “pass the buck.” Instead of devising a self-serving story (e.g., “The printer ate my report.”), just admit that you’re human. Your manager and co-workers are human, too, and will be more understanding.

When you don’t know how to do something.

Admitting that you don’t have the skills, knowledge or training to do something is okay at a project’s outset, but it should never be used to explain why you failed at the end. If you’re presented with a task or responsibility that’s beyond your current abilities, say so. Then, immediately follow up with, “But I’m ready to learn how.” Ask your boss for help finding the training, additional resources and guidance you need to get the job done.

When someone asks about a gap in your resume.

Whether you’re interviewing for an internal promotion or a job with a new employer, it’s always best to tell the truth. Merely having a resume gap is not a reason for being passed over, but lying about it is. This earlier post provides helpful tips for how to effectively (and honestly) explain a gap in your resume.

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