Obligations, sincere apologies, no excuses

The dog ate my homework.

OMG! I’m so sorry!

I’d much rather say it myself – “I’m so sorry. I screwed up.” – in a phone call, in an email, in a Facebook message – than have someone come back to me and say, “You screwed up.”

We’re way past, “The dog ate my homework.” Note: do not make this excuse if you have no dog.


You make a promise. You keep a promise.

Simple, isn’t it?

When I hear excuses

You may be uttering remarks that are quite different, but I hear, “I messed up but I’m making excuses because I can’t admit I made a mistake.”

Keep a calendar

I keep one calendar for all things. I tell everybody, “Let me check my calendar,” so I don’t over-extend myself.

Family first

I think I have made it fairly clear that my family comes first – before all things. When I make an agreement with a new client, I consider my family obligations, t-ball games, birthdays, special events, and my own personal relax time (yes, I take time to veg out).

Friends, clients, blogging

If I tell a friend, “I will meet you at The Bagel Stop on Thursday at 10:00 a.m.,” then damn straight I’m gonna be there by (probably before) 10:00 a.m.!

If I tell a client, “I will have a full MS edit and an Editor Letter to you by Saturday,” then you can take that to the bank.

If I tell you your guest blog will go live on Monday, I will have your guest blog up that Monday morning.

Fire, blood, hurricane, flood

These are truly the only excuses that work for me. If you are not on fire, bleeding, or in the midst of a hurricane or flood, then lame excuses feel icky. I actually got to use the flood excuse last year, and it still felt like I was letting people down.


I’ve screwed up mucho. When I realize it, I apologize immediately. I keep it simple and honest.

What lame excuses have you heard? Have you been tempted to make excuses to get out of some event or obligation? What do you do when you realize you are over-extended?


Karen S. Elliott was raised by a mother who wanted to be an English teacher and who worked for Merriam-Webster as a proofreader and an aunt who could complete the Sunday NYT crossword in a day. Their favorite expression was, “Look it up!” Karen reads punctuation and grammar manuals for fun.

Karen is an editor and proofreader, blogger, and writer. She edits fiction and non-fiction. Karen completed her writing coursework through UCLA and the University of New Mexico. Her short stories have been featured in The Rose & Thorn Journal, Every Child is Entitled to Innocence anthology, Valley Living Magazine, BewilderingStories.com, and WritingRaw.com. She is currently working on collections of short stories and poetry.

Opening photo by Jink Willis. You can find and link to Jink via her website here.


Filed under Branding & Platform, Editing & Proofreading, Personal Articles, Social Networking

18 responses to “Obligations, sincere apologies, no excuses

  1. I am a woman of my word. When I mess up, I fess up. My biggest problem is I am unorganized, so, I have the big fear someone will ask me to do something or I will have said I’ll do something and then do not write it down and I forget! eek!

    I rarely use the word: “Promise” unless I am damned sure I can deliver. I told my son that when he was little – that I wouldn’t use the words “I promise” unless I was going to do it come hell or high water. It’s the “Big Word” for me. I try to tell people, “I will try to” or “If I can” or “let me look at . . .”

    I am uncomfortable when people give me excuses, so I’ve learned not to do that. They just sound lame and weak.

  2. The P-word. Yup, it’s tough. I’m very organized, but every so often something slips through. Mess up – fess up! Love that!

  3. When I was still working I had “peoples” working for me and those “peoples” loved to call in late and call in sick or go home early. Oh how I wish I would have had the foresight to jot down the many excuses they came up with in a little note-book over years. It would make for some pretty hilarious reading!

  4. There’s over-extended in the physical time frame—and then there’s over-extended in the mental sense, in the form of information overload. That’s where I’m continually searching for new and better ways to keep it all straight. When I have multiple projects going on multiple levels, it’s like a juggling of the mind. When I recognize that the balls might come crashing down, I start looking seriously at carving out and R&R to rejuvenate the mind! 🙂

    • Exactly why I schedule down/relax time. I realized, just months ago, that I was trying to do too much. So I pared back considerably (especially on the social networking scene). Maintaining mental health – and preparing for unforeseen events – is sometimes a puzzle.

      • I’ve also found there are seasons in our lives when there’s not much one can to do pare back. Hmmm… . I guess one could always run away from home for a few weeks, right? LOL! But as you said, scheduling in some necessary downtime does help. I zealously guard my Sunday afternoon nap. Even if at times I don’t nap. It’s my definite alone time for three hours and has great rejuvenating powers! 🙂

  5. Taking immediate responsibility for our mistakes and apologising for hurts caused is the only mature way to handle it. Those that don’t lack class and lose their reputations for honesty and integrity. Excuses and rationalisations are signs of immaturity.

  6. Great post. I’ve been on both ends and I think crow is almost a part of my daily diet. 🙂
    I tell myself each day is a chance to be a better person and I try to surround myself with people who value integrity and won’t be afraid to kick my tush when needed.
    We all need a swift kick now and then.

  7. Thanks, Tonia Marie. I have been on both ends myself, and it’s not comfortable. I think the handling of it is of the utmost importance. And speaks to our integrity.

  8. I thought that was Jink’s little puppy! That dog is going to be famous!

    When I screw up, I say it. If people want to know why it happened the way it did, I’ll tell them, but I really am explaining, not making excuses. I always end with “I’m sorry.” and I mean it! A very important post!

  9. Jinx’s puppy photo got posted to FB just as I was looking for a puppy photo!

    Yes, explaining the problem is different than excusing the problem. My bug-a-boo is someone trying to explain away their culpability.

  10. Being reliable is part of being trustworthy, isn’t it? Yet we’re human and life can certainly throw curves.

    I resonated with Rosie’s comment about the seasons of our lives. That’s certainly been true for me. Much of the time I’m on top of things and totally predictable and reliable. Sometimes, however, life happens and I have to either be flexible or break. Since that’s happened to me, I usually am understanding when it happens to someone doing something for me (or with me)…UNLESS they aren’t transparent about it.

    I’ve often said that one of the most heinous romantic myths perpetrated on a gullible public is the movie line “Love means never having to say you’re sorry.”


    Love means you have to say you’re sorry over and over, and you’d better mean it!

    Very thought-provoking, Karen.

    • I agree there are seasons. And a strong hurrican-like wind every once in a while. Or an illness, emergency, deployments, incoming relatives … And love – all the times I’ve been in love, I said “sorry” lots! Thanks for your comments, Elizabeth.

  11. I couldn’t agree more with Rosie’s differentiation between physical and mental overload! Just because my calendar has an open spot doesn’t mean my brain does! That is when I get myself into trouble with deadlines!

    My word is my bond, though, and I will move heaven and earth to do what I say. Lame excuses abound in the universe and they irritate me! That being said, I have had to say “I’m sorry” too many times…mostly to my family.

  12. Pingback: Tips for personal customer service in a virtual world | Karen S. Elliott's Blog

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