Q: Jill, I’m in a tight situation. There was a group e-mail sent out by our boss and I was just letting off some steam to another colleague also copied on the e-mail about our boss. By accident I pressed reply all and, well, you know what happened there. This was towards the end of the shift and while I’ve had some colleagues even agree with my comments, I’m still afraid I might be in trouble with my boss. She hasn’t discussed it with me yet, but I’m assuming her recent e-mail to have a brief discussion with me is probably it. What should my position be?
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A: Yikes! I’m really sorry to hear about this mishap. Office e-mail must always be kept professional. Regardless of how comfortable you might be with your fellow colleagues or how justified your criticisms of your boss might have been, you need to remember if you can’t say it in her presence you shouldn’t communicate it at all. I don’t endorse any gossip in the office, but the truth is if you are going to slip up, using office technology — which your company has access to — isn’t the way.
At this point the only recourse you’ve got is to take responsibility for your actions. When you speak with your boss keep it brief — unless she leads otherwise. Acknowledge your behaviour, extend your apologies for breaking office etiquette and ensure your boss this will never be an issue again. Should you have been having a particularly difficult day outside of work, while this is not your boss’ concern and you should be able to keep your personal stresses outside of work, now might be the time to tap into any empathy your boss might be able to relate to. We are all human. It’s difficult for me to assess the severity of the situation as I don’t know what your e-mail said, but should it have been a case of you offering a not-so professional critique on something work-related your boss either said or did that’s one thing and would be easier to survive. Should your e-mail have been an immature, personal attack then you’ve got to be prepared for a potential job loss. We’ve all had bosses we’d like to share some choice words with, but as the good old saying goes: ‘Don’t bite the hand that feeds you.’
Jill Andrew CYW, BA (Hons.), BEd, MA '08 is an award-winning journalist and educator with additional expertise in the performing arts, public speaking, PR, media literacy/awareness, fundraising and entrepreneurship. www.jillandrewmedia.com, or www.curvycatwalk.com.
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