Career Advice

August 28, 2013

Career advice: I put my foot in my mouth. Now what?

Q: I recently made a huge mistake at work. After an extremely stressful day, I expressed some very negative opinions about the company in general and my manager in particular. Because several people overheard these comments, my boss eventually found out about them.

Since then, my manager has made frequent cutting remarks about my attitude and performance, sometimes in the presence of other staff members. Is there any way to repair this disaster, or should I just look for another job?

A: If the relationship with your boss was reasonably good before this unfortunate occurrence, and if your disparaging comments weren’t too personal, then you may be able to recover. The only way to find out is to offer an honest, heartfelt apology.

For example: “Mary, I’m afraid you may have heard about some remarks I made when I was feeling very stressed. I was dealing with a difficult project and said some things I truly did not mean. I want you to know that I really respect and appreciate you, so I hope you will accept my apology and disregard those stupid comments.”

Having expressed your regret, stop talking and wait for your boss’s reaction. With any luck, she will say that all is forgiven, but if she’s still upset, you may have to reiterate your remorse. After that, you just need to become the most pleasant, supportive employee your manager has ever met.

Submit questions to Marie G. McIntyre at yourofficecoach.com.

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