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Ask Sue
A Weekly Q&A Column About Professionalism, Etiquette and Problems in the Workplace
by Sue Morem

Admitting a Mistake

Dear Sue: I just discovered that I have been charging long distance phone calls to my company unknowingly. I call my mother frequently to make sure she is okay. She lives in town half the year and out of town the other half. I always call her cell phone and just realized that because her cell phone is based out of town that I have probably been charged a fee for all my calls to her.

It never occurred to me that by calling her cell phone I was making a long distance call, so I always dialed direct when I called from work. But due to a discussion I had with a friend, I now realize that all of the calls I’ve made may have cost my company money.

Here is my dilemma: I am not absolutely certain that these calls have cost money, but I am guessing they have. No one from my company has ever said anything, so they may or may not even know. Do I say something and offer to pay for the calls if there has been a fee? This would require someone going through all of the past phone bills for a couple of years, which would take a lot of time. Or do I say nothing, but stop the calls? Part of me thinks that they may not have even noticed my calls and that the charges are probably minimal, but what if they discovered it somehow and traced the calls to me?

What should I do? I am tempted to leave well enough alone and not do a thing except stop making direct calls.

– In a quandary

Sue Says: You could do nothing and the chances that you will be caught probably are minimal, but you wouldn’t be asking for advice if you were okay with leaving things as they are. Besides, you always run the risk that someone will find out and then what will you do?

You need to determine what you can live with and be comfortable with in the long term. If you speak up and admit that you have inadvertently made personal long distance calls, you will probably feel better. In addition, your employer will most likely respect your honesty. Upon learning about the charges, there is a good chance that your employer will choose to let it go and not want to take the time to review old bills or charge you for the calls, however, be prepared to pay if you are requested to.

You are the one who knows what is you need to do, but keep in mind that if you do nothing, it will always be in the back of your mind. Once you deal with it, you will not have to worry about any confrontation with the issue in the future.

Dear Sue: I am 29 years old and in a stable career. Even though there is a lot of potential where I am, I see myself being self employed some day. I've done a lot of research, come up with a great name for a company, and have had two satisfied clients from my little business on the side so far.

I really want to start working at my business full time, but am hesitant to leave my job. Help! What do I do?

- Stuck

Sue Says: You can either take the plunge by quitting your job or slowly work at your building your own business while you continue to work at your other job. There are pros and cons to both; if you devote your time to your business, it will grow faster. However, earning the steady paycheck that comes from a secure job relieves a lot of stress and may provide you with some of the resources you need to continue to build your business and live the lifestyle you are accustomed to.

Your decision needs to be based on how quickly you can support yourself from your own business and how much you need the security from your other job. If you decide to wait awhile, you would be wise to set a deadline for doing so or you risk putting it off forever. You have a dream and a business idea, and by all means should pursue it. There is rarely a perfect time to leave a good job, and building a business takes time. When you can afford to, make the move. If you don’t ever give the business and self-employment a try, you will always wonder what it would have been.

Sue Morem is a professional speaker, trainer and syndicated columnist. She is author of the newly released 101 Tips for Graduates and How to Gain the Professional Edge, Second Edition. You can contact her by email at asksue@suemorem.com or visit her web site at http://www.suemorem.com

Send Sue your questions by clicking here: Ask Sue
For more Ask Sue articles, click here.

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