Everyone dreams of telling the boss off and storming out, even your boss. But when a stressful day cancels out your common sense and you actually state your unprofessional thoughts out loud or via email, the consequences can haunt you and jeopardize your job. But they don't have to if you master control of the situation.
Take this as an example: Let's say you recently poured hours and hours of work into a report your boss assigned. The end result makes you proud. It's neat, concise and exactly as you'd envisioned it.
It's an insult to then receive an email with offhand criticism from your boss, who must have read the report while in a hurry. The message informs you that there are holes in the report, and that you are expected to fix them by the end of the next day, when he will be in the office to provide more feedback.
In addition, your boss listed several criticisms about your general job performance: You leave work too early, you're never around when he calls from the road and even something about your work attire. Not only does your boss want you to rework the report, you have to meet with him to discuss your job performance.
In an emotional rage, you fire off an email to your boss defending both the report and your job performance. Then you strongly word that if he's unhappy with you, he should find a replacement.
That was yesterday. When you woke up this morning, you realized that not only do you want to keep your job, but your boss's criticisms about your performance were pretty well on target and easy to correct. You can stay a bit later at work. You can quit gossiping with colleagues while your boss is out of town so you don't miss his calls. And yes, even your friends have questioned some of the outfits you've worn to work lately.
Words carved in the modern-day equivalent of stone, email, are tough to take back. Yet you can fix this situation by relying on your (hopefully good) past performance and claiming temporary insanity or exhaustion.
Chances are, your boss will have read the message by the next time you see him. If you're willing to hedge your bets that this is the case, leave a message on his voice mail saying that you'd be happy to talk to him about the report and his concerns about your job performance. Add that you'd also like him to disregard your email.
Whether or not you leave a voice mail message, be prepared for negative fallout once your boss arrives in the office. And be honest. Tell your boss that you sent the email when you were too tired to think straight. Admit you used poor judgment, that you value your job and you'll be happy to go over the report with him.
And thank him. Yes, thank him for alerting you to problems he perceives in your job performance and assure him you'll work on these issues. Don't grovel, but let him know you'll work on the soft spots in your performance.
Your boss's reaction will depend on your relationship with him. Assuming you've established a solid work record with your boss, chances are he'll accept the apology. Not that he won't grill you a bit and make you feel uncomfortable (remember: you asked for it), but the situation will ultimately pass.
And never forget that dreadful feeling you woke up with after you'd sent an email you regretted. It will stop you from making the same mistake twice.