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It Won’t Happen Again

Higher-ups often ask questions when things go wrong– “Why are you late?” “What happened to all the coffee?” “Why is my dog dead?”

I used to feel compelled to answer these questions. “There was traffic.” “You drank it all.” “You don’t know how to take care of anything other than yourself; it’s a wonder your children are still alive.”

Then one day, an AD gave me the best advice I ever heard. “When I ask, ‘Why didn’t you bring me these call sheets sooner?’, I don’t actually want to hear the reason. I really don’t care. All I want to hear is, ‘It won’t happen again.'”

And it’s true, he couldn’t care less.1

There’s no point in explaining to your boss what happened. What is he going to do with that information? It’s your job; he doesn’t need to know how to do it.

Besides, explaining what went wrong will just lead to your boss explaining how you should have done it, which you already know, because what you did do didn’t work. “It won’t happen again” is just the easiest, fastest way to get the conversation over with.

Sorry about the overly long, overly serious post.  It won’t happen again.

(Easy joke.  Sorry.  Won’t happen again.  I swear.)

Footnotes    (↩ returns to text)

  1. That’s right, “couldn’t.” Every time my current boss says, “I could care less,” I die a little inside.
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9 Responses

  1. This is such a hard lesson to learn, but totally true. Not only do they not have time, but they really just don’t give a shit.

  2. I must say though, sometimes whoever is asking really DOES want an explanation… I’ve done the whole, “Sorry, won’t happen again.” and received the response, “I asked you why/what/who/where/etc” or “Why didn’t it happen THIS time?” Do they want a long drawn out story? Probably not, but an explanation none the less.

    I think it depends on the person honestly, some people I’ve worked for WANT an explanation whereas others just want you to take the blame (whether deserved or not) and move on.

  3. I was going to get annoyed and start insisting that you should always fight for your corner but then I had a moment of reconsideration. Sometimes it is better to back away and just let it be, especially when the person you have to explain to is an idiot. (My old ethics lecturer used to tell us that it’s not worth wasting your breath explaining to an idiot because sometimes it’s simply not possible for them to understand.)

    Still find it hard though; too principled for my own good! 😉

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