Dear Coach,

Is it ever OK to correct someone publicly? I was in a meeting with my boss plus two senior sales reps, and my boss made a clear misstatement. I thought it was the right thing to correct the potential miscommunication immediately. My boss was really angry for embarrassing him in the meeting. I thought I was helping. What’s your perspective?

Signed, Outspoken


Lisa Parker | Executive Coach | Heads Up Coaching and ConsultingDear Outspoken,
We often have to make decisions like this in the moment, but it’s not really a question of “Should I speak up?” it’s really “How should I speak up?” I believe your motives were positive, so let me ask you to review: Did you wait long enough before speaking up to be sure the correction was actually needed? Did you preface your comments with a buffer like “If I may offer some insight…” or “May I clarify here?” Were you respectful and polite in your tone and word choices? Did you consider other options, like a post-meeting email with corrected data, or sidebar conversation with your boss after the meeting? Perhaps not. Apologize to your boss, and use questions like the ones above to guide you in the future. Good luck!
Coach Lisa