Termination can be shocking, especially if the firing is based on your poor judgment or bad behavior. If you’re in gross violation of company policy or involved in illegal activity, like theft or harassment, your job is probably long gone. However, if you were terminated because of a misunderstanding, a single unprofessional remark or action, or a relatively minor offense, you might be able to work your way back into your employer’s good graces with a heartfelt apology.
Call Your Boss
Even though it might be tempting to let the dust settle and emotions to calm before talking to your boss, don't wait too long, or your position could be filled. Call your boss directly, and in a calm and rational manner. Express your regret for the incident that led to your termination, and ask for the opportunity to meet in person to apologize.
If your boss agrees to a meeting, arrive on time and professionally dressed. Express your embarrassment at your lack of unprofessionalism and apologize for whatever issue led to your termination. Don’t make excuses -- just issue the apology. If it's possible to rectify the situation or make amends, offer to do so. For example, if you lost your temper and blew up at a client, volunteer to contact the customer and express your regret. Following your apology, ask your employer to consider reinstating your position. If it's obvious you're not going to be rehired, remain calm, thank your boss for his time and the opportunities you had during your employment, and leave.
Put it in Writing
If your boss isn’t interested in seeing you in person, express your apology in a letter. Offer to make amends if possible, and let your boss know you're still interested in being part of the company. If your boss didn't grant you a personal audience, your chances for being rehired are probably slim. However, issuing a written apology establishes you as a professional, and at the very least, the correspondence should soothe the situation and help retain your reputation.
Even if you aren't given your job back, look for ways to be professional and make things right. For example, if you got into an argument with another employee, write that person an apology letter. If you made an error in judgment that led to a significant expense for the company or the loss of a major client, write letters to the affected department heads and apologize for your actions. Also consider creating an overview of your job responsibilities and outstanding projects that will be helpful to a newcomer taking over your old position. This can help you leave on better terms.
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