The Power of Excuses: 5 Types of Useful Scapegoats

Scapegoat: n A person who is blamed for the wrongdoings, mistakes, or faults of others.

I hate making excuses and of course, I think giving, helping and donating is extremely important.  I always encourage people to give more than they receive, but there are times when excuses are entirely necessary and having a scapegoat can be positive.

Excuse: You Can’t Help With ______

Scapegoat: Scapegoater Friend
Example: “Can you help me go shoe shopping with me for my sister’s boyfriend’s cousin’s babies’ bris, I could soooooo use your help all day next Saturday.”

I always prefer to be honest and just say no, but if someone asks you to help with something and you feel you really wouldn’t be much help anyway because

-You will hurt their feelings with a flat out no
-You are not good at it,
-There are too many cooks in the kitchen (too many other helpers)
-No one would notice if you helped anyway (think major fundraiser)

Then a scapegoater friend is essential.  Make a deal with one of your friends to be your scapegoat friend and that means if someone comes up to them at a party and says, “oh I heard Sarah was helping you with your house painting last weekend and she couldn’t come to my….” , they (or you) go along with it no questions asked.

Excuse: You Don’t Want to Drink

Scapegoat: Parent/Boss
Example: “Come, on just one beer bong, come on!”

If someone offers you a drink/beer bong/shot and you

-do not want to drink
-feel you might be getting too drunk
-are DD
-have something the next morning

I recommend first and foremost just saying no and your honest reason, but sometimes this doesn’t cut it.  I wrote an article a while back on teaching your teen how to drink and said that parents should always let their kids know that they can blame not drinking on them, “my mom is waiting she will smell it on me” etc.  If you do not want to drink and you still live at home, this is a good one, otherwise you can blame it on a overly sensitive bosses sense of smell and an early meeting. (See: Teaching Your Teen How to Drink)

Excuse: You Can’t Come to ________

Scapegoat: BF/GF/Parent
Example: “You haaaaaave to come to our kitty’s birthday party, it will mean the world to her!”

There are a few reasons it is always legit to make an excuse for not coming to an event:

-It would hurt their feelings to say no
-You will be in a bad mood anyway, so they probably wouldn’t want you there.

A great way to get out of this is have a BF/GF or parent say no for you.  I once saw my dad get out of an engagement by walking up to my mom and say,

Dad (while vigorously shaking his head ‘no,’): “Let me check with my wife, honey can we go to Steve’s colonoscopy anniversary next Saturday night?”

Mom:  “oh….too bad, I know you want to go, but we just can’t”

Excuse: You Don’t Want to Try the Drug

Scapegoat: Company/Coach/Parent
Example: “Just try a little”

For teens especially, I encourage saying no, but if you are uncomfortable with that, you can always use a parent or boss as a scapegoat:

“My parents/boss randomly drug test.”
“My mom says I am allergic.”
“My boss is checking in at a meeting early tomorrow”

Excuse: Business Idea Decline

Scapegoat: A Business Colleague (imaginary or real)
Example: (real) “Vanessa, so glad I caught you, I got your number from a friend of a friend and wanted to talk about what I think is a perfect partnership between the National Stone and Gravel Association and your parenting blog.” (seriously)

We get about 80 requests per day for books, products, and reviews for our site and I probably get pitched for partnerships or collaboration of some kind 20 to 30 times per week.  Some of these are great! Some of these are not so great.  When I know that it would be a waste of my time and theirs I will often say, I am so sorry but my business partner is holding off on all partnerships while we are working on a bigger deal. Usually I am very honest up front and simply say it will not work, but when I am worried I will offend them or they will not get off my back, a scapegoat is perfect.

To reiterate, it is always better to be honest, it is always good to say yes when you can.  But when you need to say no, and you are not sure how, a scapegoat can be the answer.

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