“Never explain – your friends do not need it and your enemies will not believe you anyways”
–Elbert Hubbard, 19th Century American Writer
Are you one of those fortunate ones that never ever had to explain anything to anyone, to clarify your position, thought or action? Chances are more than fair that you might have easily forgotten it just like water under the bridge. As it is, human memory is fairly short specifically to help us get over life’s misfortunes. No wonder they call ‘time’ the best healer.
Right and wrong are two essential complements to each other and happen to take their individual turn with unpredictable frequency all around us. One day we feel proud about some plan we devised for the next corporate take-over and the following week one of the Board Members finds more holes in it than in a tea strainer.
Imagine you are a well-renowned surgeon with the name and fame of a ‘Messiah.’ Just so you do not forget your 32nd Wedding Anniversary, you made some outstanding arrangements for a night out with the love of your life. Little did you know that the same evening you will be called upon to perform an emergency surgery on a VIP? Not only did your plans go haywire, your life-partner felt humiliated due to the sentimental value attached to the day. How would you explain it to him/her so your relationship survives a terrible blow?
Let us discuss another probability: Your best friend since early childhood is getting married and you have been given an advance notice almost two months ago. Destiny masterfully exercises its own plan to get you sidetracked. You end up traveling out-of-town a few days before, with the absolute guaranteed return on the day of the wedding. For reasons beyond your control, your assignment demands that you stay put for another day or so. Are you absolutely sure you can explain your side of the story to your friend and his/her spouse with absolute justification to not damage the relationship even a wee bit?
How do you explain an off and on absence from your child’s hockey games? Do you use excuses to justify failure to discharge your part of the family responsibilities? If yes, how often do you do that? Does it cause you anxiety to find yourself in a situation where an explanation may be inevitable? I have a simple remedy in the above quote.
When faced with opposition, whether in the Boardroom, a Management Meeting or a family gathering, remember there are always people who will trust you no matter what you said. At the same time, there also exists a group of lopsided individuals not willing to accept whatever justification you might offer.
When confronted with such personalities, both nurturing their own preconceived notions, do what your sanity suggests at the outset. Let them form their own opinions rather than giving easy munition to fire their salvo at you with little justification.
What makes me address this subject in this forum? The answer is simpler than you can probably envision. One of the major traits of human personality is to guard our fences and we do it with due diligence. There are times when we fail due to certain unforeseen shortcomings or lack of preparation. However, guard we must. In the same breath, please allow me to also explain that convincing the opposition on our honesty, sincerity, and diligence is not always easy because they will not believe us anyway.
On the contrary, those well-conversant with our nature, work ethic, honesty, sincerity and good intentions are always reluctant to put the blame squarely on our shoulders. They need very solid proof of our culpability, the real hard-core evidence against us before passing any strictures. They do not seek explanations as their trust is based upon a historic chart of successes, achievements and trouble-free completion of tasks.
Given the above two opposites, where do you find validity for one to give explanation/s in the event of a failure to deliver on a promise, commitment or obligation? The friends do not need it whereas the enemies will never believe it so why waste it on nothing?
Try to maintain a balanced work ethic as far as humanly possible, dot all I’s and cross all your t’s so that oversight takes a back seat. Keep a log of important activities, assignments, contracts, and responsibilities so that you are never unfairly saddled with consequences arising from others’ mistakes.
Always maintain open channels of communication so you could offer others a chance to stay abreast with related developments on either side. Be open to helping those working on your projects so they never feel let down. Scolding or dressing others down never creates a pleasant work environment for anyone.
Always praise in public and admonish (if you must) in private.
Willingly own up your mistakes, not perforce circumstance
Stop passing the buck; you will soon hit a dead-end
Keep advice to yourself; help wherever possible
Be an exemplary leader; not a nosy boss
Give more than what you receive
Talk Less, Work More
The above pointers are just the stepping-stones to a more trustworthy, magnetic personality. It helps spread some cheer around so the need to explain your conduct is minimized, even if not eliminated. As you traverse on this path, the day shall not be far when you will be surrounded by more friends than detractors or enemies.
TRY IT, YOU MIGHT LIKE IT!