When was the last time you heard someone say: “I don’t want to be rude, but…” Usually followed by something which is in fact very rude.
In my work with leaders and professionals I come across this ugly language gambit too often. It’s an example of an unhelpful behavior called makingpreemptive excuses: By making excuses beforehand, you are somehow allowed to engage in unacceptable behavior.
When was the last time you were impressed by preemptive excuses? They have the opposite effect. It’s considered unprofessional. It also conveys an image of amateurism. Think of the invited speaker who starts with the preemptive statement that he is not a good speaker. Instead of being delighted, it fills the audience with dread that they have to sit through yet another boring and confusing lecture.
We often become more effective, not by learning new habits, but by putting our focus on quitting existing unhelpful behaviors.