Last night in class we were having a discussion about how to handle an ethical dilemma in the workplace. I raised my hand said that I had read an article that said there are few times when we would have to go outside of our (law) firm to report breaches in conduct. I had found a website that provided opinions on various ethical workplace dilemmas similar to the novice employee in the scenario we were discussing. I offered that perhaps, if faced with a similar situation, writing a letter might be something we could do if our ethical rules were not clear on how to handle the situation.

The professor didn’t seem thrilled about my suggestion. He did not seem to like the website source I had chosen. Then, later in class (a class of nine) he went around the room (actually went down the list) and asked everyone for their specific opinion on an ethics video we had just watched - except me.

I think I really offended him.

Do I apologize for offering my opinion of what might help in that situation?

  • 3
    I really don't follow. What "firm" are you talking about? What "site that provided opinions"? In any case, this seems like a standard interpersonal issue rather than some weird quirk of academia.
    – cag51
    May 10, 2023 at 20:39
  • 1
    -Question regarding etiquette of dealing with a professor in an academic setting, I think qualifies as acceptable topics. -Different than dealing with my mechanic or even my doctor.
    – SallyQ
    May 10, 2023 at 20:49
  • To follow-up on @cag51 's comment. What firm are you talking about? Your question is unclear. May 10, 2023 at 21:17
  • Your question is unclear: kindly attend to @cag51: firm. You indicated... Do I apologize for my overzealous participation? This tilts towards what we must tell you to do. Rather, rephrase. || Not so critical, but might be helpful: is this a graduate class. May 10, 2023 at 21:37

1 Answer 1


Perhaps he assumed you had already given your opinion so didn't need to be called on. I wasn't there, of course.

If you are concerned, go visit him during office hours and work it out. Offer an apology if necessary. Ask for guidance for the future, if necessary.

But don't try to do this sort of thing by email.

If it absolutely has to be done by email, say something like the following

I seem to have offended you... I apologize for that..

But don't give a "nopology" like "Sorry if I offended you" or "Sorry you were offended."

  • Thank you. I understand your comment about the email. He definitely skipped over me. It was a different, specific question regarding a video we watched.
    – SallyQ
    May 10, 2023 at 20:33
  • No office hours at our school. Either before class - which makes it difficult because everyone gets there early. To even bring it up might have to be by email.
    – SallyQ
    May 10, 2023 at 20:37
  • I suggest using email to ask for a meeting, then.
    – Buffy
    May 10, 2023 at 20:38
  • 1
    Excellent advice. Thank you.
    – SallyQ
    May 10, 2023 at 20:51

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