Excuse Talk

My new part-time job is managing all things reconstruction. I imagine this is like herding really slow cats — who need frequent naps.

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Last Thursday I marched into two different offices because a week had gone by and I did not hear back as expected. Time was up — I needed some answers!

I got two very different responses.

Response #1: A phone call. Overly friendly voice, stated he had left a message last week — but did not remember which number — and quickly moved to setting up a time to come out.

I am a professor and have been for a long time. I know Excuse Talk when I hear it.

I went home and pulled up phone records on the computer. I checked my phone and Dear Husband checked his.

Nada. Nothing. No message from that person, the voice mail boxes were not full, and no phone call from his number.

I called the Regional Manager of the company and invited him to investigate since perhaps there was a logical explanation — but under the present circumstances, I told him, I was not comfortable working with their company any more.

You're Fired.jpg

Response #2: Receptionist grabbed the human involved — and he simply apologized for not getting back to me.

I will continue working with that company — they are trustworthy.

We see Excuse Talk in Life with Dogs. In fact, Berner-Garde will include Excuse Talk in individual dog records. You can spot it because it is listed as anecdotal and it usually strains credibility.

For example…

  • A pattern of anecdotal entries from breeder along the lines of “puppy played rough…” to explain known-to-be-inherited orthopedic problems.

  • Anecdotal entry that explains dog was frightened by fireworks (bitten by ant, had this or that drug, ate the wrong food under the wrong phase of the moon, etc.) and that caused her to develop XXX condition.

Excuse Talk is easy to do and it is understandable — we so want there to be an explanation that does not require us to face hard truths. I get it.

And we so want to believe the Excuse Talk of others — because recognizing that someone we care about (or need!) is a complicated and maybe not-all-that-honest human being is rough. And so we just let the Excuse Talk slide. It is just easier that way.

But Excuse Talk is more than an innocent tall tale. It can be a reflection of something central and core about a human being — a sort of Integrity Test.

How can I trust a Project Manager who lies?

I can’t — or more to the point, I won’t. Because in my world, integrity matters. A lot.

And if I give Excuse Talk a pass — in a Construction Project Manager, a student, or a breeder — I have allowed myself to join the dishonesty. Even more, when we give a pass it means we have not cared enough to invite change.

I have found that exposure of Excuse Talk can and often does result in positive — and sometimes even appreciated — changes, even though it is both hard to do and hard to hear.

And I am not just talking about other people — all of us can so easily slip into Excuse Talk mode. Sometime the one who needs us to call an Excuse Talk Alert is ourself.

There is no shame in being an imperfect human being — only in pretending the truth is something different than it is, and asking others to go along with the lie.

Hence my current lack of a Project Manager — and this blog.