Sense & Sensitivity by Harriette Cole

Employee Questions Revealing Mistake to Boss

DEAR HARRIETTE: I made a big mistake on the job, and I am not sure what to do about it. I know what happened and why, and it was definitely my fault. The thing is, if I tell anybody, I am probably going to lose my job. I don’t think that an apology will be enough. My mistake cost my company money and probably damaged their reputation a bit, too. I feel horrible about it. But since nobody knows that I did it, I feel like if I just stay under the radar and make sure nothing bad ever happens again, I could get a pass. I know I will never make a stupid mistake like this again. Do you think it’s OK to stay under the radar? Or do I need to confess to my boss what I did? -- Do I Reveal?

DEAR DO I REVEAL?: There’s an old saying that the truth will always be revealed. The question in your case is whether you get in front of it, own up to your mistakes and admit what happened, or if you wait, with trepidation, for the moment that it is discovered. I vote for being upfront about the situation. Even if you lose your job, it is better to be honest. But you may be able to save your job by being proactive and letting your bosses know exactly what happened, your role in it and how sorry you are. You can ask for forgiveness and promise to help the company rebuild.

On the flip side, if you say nothing, even if you last in that job, your mistake will weigh on you. Keeping secrets is not healthy for your spirit.

Read more in: Work & School | Etiquette & Ethics

Mentor Reconnected With Mentee

DEAR HARRIETTE: I recently got a lovely note from a young woman I had mentored early in her career. I like her so much and had intended to stay in touch, but life got in the way. Her note brought everything back home about how close we had gotten and how fond I am of her. Being back in touch with her reminded me of how much I would like to keep her closer in my life. She is about to get married, and I would like to be there for that part of her life, too. Should I tell her? We love each other. I think she will be happy. -- Reconnecting

DEAR RECONNECTING: Given that this woman reached out to you, you know for sure that she is thinking about you. That’s wonderful. Here is your second chance at cultivating a closer bond. Tell her how much you would like to meet the person she will soon marry. Invite them to dinner so that you can get to know him and get to know her better as the woman she is blossoming into.

Take it slow. She is building a new life and is likely busy. You can call, email or text with her and occasionally try to see her. Do not ask for a wedding invitation. That is often a tricky subject. Instead, just be happy to rekindle your bond and see where it leads.

(Harriette Cole is a lifestylist and founder of DREAMLEAPERS, an initiative to help people access and activate their dreams. You can send questions to or c/o Andrews McMeel Syndication, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106.)

Read more in: Etiquette & Ethics | Friends & Neighbors