Career Testing
Career Testing
Career Testing
WORKPLACE / JUN. 06, 2014
version 4, draft 4

How to Make Up Reasonable Excuses for Being Late

It happens to everyone -- arriving late for work. 

You can set your alarm clock, go to bed early and even lay out your clothes the night before. Yet, circumstances before your control, such as a traffic jam or car trouble can result in a late arrival. 

Most bosses are reasonable and understand that the occasional lateness will occur. But in many cases, they'll only overlook tardiness if you have a reasonable excuse. With that said, here are ways to arrive late and stay on your superior's good side. 

Stick with the Truth

If you arrive late due to oversleeping, be honest with your boss. You may conclude that it's better to exaggerate or blame tardiness on a more acceptable reason, such as traffic or a car emergency. But there's a chance that your boss will catch you in a lie, which can tarnish your credibility and reputation. For example, you may lie and tell your boss one thing, but slip and tell your coworker another excuse. Even if your reason is odd or a bit far-fetched, stick to the truth as far as you can. 

Be Ready to Provide a Follow-up Explanation

When late for work, you may prefer to tell your boss as little information as possible. However, he may require additional information, especially if tardiness has become a habit. Therefore, get your thoughts together before walking into the office. Even if you're 100% truthful with your boss when answering follow-up questions, if you stumble over your words or struggle to get your thoughts together, he may question the truthfulness of your excuse. 

Show Evidence to Support Your Story

If you're rarely late, your boss may turn a blind eye to tardiness. But if you're late several times a week or month, be ready to provide proof to support your story. For example, if you were stuck in traffic for 20 minutes, text or email your boss a link to a news report that talks about this specific traffic incident. Additionally, if the electricity was out in your community causing you to oversleep, find proof of the power outage and share this information with your employer. 

Keep Your Reason Simple

Not to sound too cliche, but honesty is always the best possible. But if your real excuse for being tardy isn't likely to fly with your employer, and you feel it's best to stretch the truth, don't come up with an elaborate story. If you're not being entirely truthful, the less details you provide, the better.

If you add extra details, this may prompt your employer to ask follow-up questions that you aren't prepared to answer. Also, don't use the same excuse twice. Your employer is probably keeping a mental note of your many excuses; and if he hears the same reason multiple times, he'll question the sincerity of your story. 

Even though we'll all arrive late to work at some point in our careers, you shouldn't develop a habit of being tardy to work. Even if you do your job well, your employer may view habitual lateness as disrespectful and he or she may feel that you're unreliable. This opinion might halt your advancement within the company. 

What are some bad excuses for arriving late to work? Please comment…


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