Help me sort this out(21 Posts)
Need advice on how to retrieve myself from an awkward situation of my own making.
I trod on someone’s toes last week. I need to apologise and then get her to share information. We don’t get on. Our work areas are separate and there is no line management link either. She reports to the Boss through Pete, while I report directly to the Boss (this annoys her). She is a drama queen and a stirrer: she will already have made sure my faux pas has been widely reported.
What I really need to do is to ask for information, so that I can report back to my boss. I am prepared to make an apology, but not to grovel. Do you think this email would strike the right note?
"In my enthusiasm to ensure we remain complaint following Pete’s emails which I was copied into, and especially after Boss [Boss is Pete's line manager and also my line manager] went out of his way to ask me to keep on top of it, I seem to have rushed in feet first. It was done with the best of intentions but with hindsight I can see why you didn’t appreciate my approach. I am sure you have it all in hand, and I would like you to outline what steps are being taken so that I can report back to (and reassure) Boss. I will be happy to work with you and Pete to ensure we remain complaint as this is in the best interests of the organisation."
Can you not do it in person? She sounds difficult but at least you can change tact if you need to?
Not sure the text suggests apology to me. You don't actually say "sorry", I think...
Thanks. Sometimes you just need someone to point out the bleeding obvious! Will rewrite before sending.
Compliant not complaint?
It doesn't sound very collaborative to me, comes across as "you tell me what you've done and I will tell the boss"
Really sorry, I will buy you a coffee and we can talk about how to go forward might hit a better note?
Does this person work in the same place as you, or within an hour travelling?
I would go to see them with a bunch of flowers or some decent bikkies and say "Can we start over?"
If this isn't possible then a telephone call would be far better than an email.
'I would like you to...' Sounds like you are issuing her instructions and if she's already sensitive about the reporting lines I would soften this so it sounds more collaborative. Something like 'I'd really appreciate it if you would outline the steps you've taken and are planning. I'll let Boss know and we can take it from there'.
I've rewritten, starting with "I apologise" and including an "I'd be grateful if". She is supercilious and disdainful in person, so I'd far rather do this by email (in reply to *Mrs Margot*).
Elysian - (Yes, compliant!) You are absolutely right: I'm asking only because the boss asked me to report back to him. I have an interest, but would not have got this involved if my boss hadn't asked me to. What do you suggest?
It's more than likely she will tell me that she doesn't need to report anything to me, and that Pete will report to the Boss ...
You need to have a conversation - most people appreciate a genuine apology and then you can get her to help you. Emails she can ignore, delay responding, misinterpret etc.
Some of the responses here are very illuminating. I am beginning to think that, on the whole, my colleagues exchange emails which many of you would find at best blunt and at worst seriously rude!
I thought putting my apology in an email makes it formal and something she can refer back to - I think she'd like that.
But I am taking all comments on board, and have more time before I send my email (tomorrow).
I think super politeness and over egging any apology is a good tactic to take her feet from under her. In person. Over gracious. Leaves her no room at all to come back at you.
Justsay - I think this is really tricky. If she is as grumpy as it sounds then you will be damned whatever you do.
My apporoach? Do what YOU feel best, are happy with and can justify to yourself and to your boss. Would having a chat with Pete work, about how to approach her? If he tells her to work with you and then you go with an olive branch, an apology, and an offer to work together then that might work? Depends really on your relationship with Pete, whether you can trust him not to immediately take sides.
I agree with flowery. I think if she is generally shitstirry then you are playing into her hands with an email and it will turn into something drawn out and ridiculous.
I don't mean to be offensive OP but how old are you? It's just I am always telling my older teen dd not to try to resolve issues by text/email but to do it by phone/in person and your posts reminded me of her
And in terms of getting her/anyone to help you, most people love to feel important and helpful. Rather than just asking someone to do something, if you instead ask them if they'd mind doing you a huge favour and do x or y as that would really help you out is likely to get quick results, make the person feel good about themselves and you, and make them dead keen to help you now and in future. I find deploying this tactic at will in the doctors surgery, the school office, in shops, libraries etc etc etc makes life a lot easier.
Is there some reason why you can't tell Boss to get the info he needs from Pete? Why has he asked you to get it when the person with the info reports to Pete? I think I'd be tempted to play it back to Boss that it would seem weird to go around Pete to one of his direct reports. I'd be well hacked off if you emailed me and ignored my reporting line.
It's still worth apologising, though - given her reputation as a stirrer I'd be tempted to do it on the phone so there's no written evidence!
And whatever you do, if you use the term compliant (which I wouldn't) do spell it correctly!
Ok thanks to all for taking the time to read and reply.
flowery - you can always be relied upon for excellent advice!!
hampton - I'm old enough to know better
Elysian & hampton - you're right, I think I am damned whatever I do. Serves me right though.
Sounds like the majority view is ... don't email, but apologise face to face. OK. I can do that. Big girl pants on!
I disagree with the others. I'd email and copy Pete with an apology and request for info.
Only because she's been shit stirring, only because she's trying to make you look bad.
For her type you need a paper trail otherwise she can just pretend you didn't apologise or request info.
Whether you apologise by email/phone/in person, do it only once and then put it behind you - otherwise she will use this time and time again. You are in business not best mates.
If you apologise in person, make sure you have a witness of some kind - just to evidence that you have done it otherwise she may dispute it occurred or that it wasn't sincere blah blah. (Sorry but I work with similar).
Remember we all make mistakes so ensure you deal with it quickly, appropriately and professionally. Hold your head high, you are apologies for an error not for being you.
I would apologise face to face then follow up with the email.
I know it is hard - I have to work with some complete bastards.
I had to put by Big Girl Pants on today and will have to do it again on Thursday. I do find though that being brave and facing up to people,especially when they least expect it, gets me results. I really hope the same goes for you and all is resolved peacefully
til next time
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