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Your Office Coach

The corrective talk was kind and gentle–but taken personally anyway

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Q: "I’m having a communication problem with a co-worker, 'Angie,' whose father owns our company. Angie repeatedly oversteps her bounds and tries to do my job. I had a direct talk with her in a kind and gentle tone, but this made her angry. When I tried to smooth over her feelings, she refused to speak and has avoided me ever since.

“I don’t see any way to fix our relationship as long as Angie is acting like a sulky child. The fact that her dad is the owner doesn’t help. We were great co-workers until this one little incident. What should I do?” Shut Out

A: If Angie stopped speaking after “one little incident,” then evidently the incident did not seem so little to her. Although you may have been trying to deliver your message diplomatically, she obviously took it as a personal affront. Given that she’s the boss’s daughter, you would be wise to take the first step in making amends.

For example: “Angie, I feel terrible that our working relationship seems to have changed. Before last week, I thought we got along really well, so I would like for us to work together the way we did before. If I can do anything to make that happen, please let me know.”

Revisiting the original issue will only reopen old wounds, so if Angie chooses to talk, keep the conversation positive. But if she continues giving you the cold shoulder, just remain pleasant and friendly. Like most pouters, she’ll thaw out eventually.

Do you have any "pouters" in your life? Here's how to handle them: Dealing with Pouters and Sulkers.

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