亲爱的F.S.M.：现在道歉当然不算晚。实际上，《道歉的艺术》（Art of the Apology: How, When, and Why to Give and Accept Apologies）一书的作者劳伦•M•布鲁姆认为：“很明显，你的老板仍在生你的气，所以，应该道歉，这没得选。”
Dear Annie:I have a weird problem that I hope you can help me with. A couple of weeks ago, my team was in a big meeting with another team, our boss, his boss, and a very senior person both managers report to. At one point, my boss was presenting the results of a research project I had worked on, and he got a couple of key figures wrong. The numbers came from an earlier version of the report that we had since revised, so I spoke up and corrected him.
I really like and respect my boss, and the last thing I intended was to embarrass him or make him look bad. I just spoke without thinking. But now he’s freezing me out and won’t even look at me. I would like to crawl under my desk and stay there, possibly forever. Is it too late to apologize? What would you say to him if you were me? —Foot Stuck in Mouth
Dear F.S.M.: Eek. It’s certainly not too late to say you’re sorry. In fact, at this point, says Lauren M. Bloom, author of Art of the Apology: How, When, and Why to Give and Accept Apologies, “Since your boss is obviously still upset with you, not apologizing is not an option.”
But be careful how you go about it. “Apologizing at the office is not the same as in real life,” Bloom says. Depending on the circumstances, “there’s office politics to think about and, in certain situations, admitting fault can get you fired.” An attorney by training, she adds that “as a rule, in any instance where you’ve made a mistake and there is even the possibility of a lawsuit over it, speak with someone in the legal department before you admit any wrongdoing.”
While researching her book, Bloom came across people who made matters worse by giving “I’m sorry” gifts inappropriate for the workplace, like one well-meaning boss who gave his assistant a bouquet of flowers. The admin “saw that as both sexist and too personal a gesture,” Bloom observes. “The wrong kind of apology can be more offensive than the original mistake.”
So, what should you say to your frosty boss? By Bloom’s lights, every effective mea culpa has six essential features. The first one is sincerity, which your question suggests you’ve got covered. Most people can spot a phony apology from a mile away, so “you have to genuinely regret what you did, and say it unequivocally,” says Bloom. “Start with ‘I am sorry.’”
Second, briefly explain precisely what you believe you did wrong, in this case correcting the boss in the presence of higher-ups. Acknowledge that you embarrassed him by speaking up and you feel rotten about it and, in the next breath, move on to Step Three: Suggest a solution for the next time this situation comes along (if it ever does), and propose a way to make amends.
“It probably would have been better to discreetly hand him a note under the table so he could correct his own mistake,” Bloom says. “You could mention that as a solution for next time.”