So last week I shared a story where I was introduced as the “leftover” on a human resources team when I worked at a company on post-acquisition integration work. If you’re not familiar with the story, I recommend that you read The Intro Heard Around the Office Part I and come back to this post because nothing I share will make sense to you.
After Jill tried to perform CPR and salvage the introduction, Jane realized her error and tried to explain that the wrong words came out and was sorry. I was too heated to receive anything that she was saying to me so I continued with my emails as she was trying to explain away the awkwardness of the moment.
They walked away, and I think I texted everyone in my contact list to get another perspective to see if I was overreacting. Maybe I was just looking for support and justification for my reaction, but in that moment, I needed to speak to anyone who would listen. And if they disagreed with my reaction, I was more than ready to state my case and lay out all the facts. Thankfully I didn’t have to become Claire Huxtable and “let the record show” to anyone. They all justified my reaction with varied responses of “oh no she didn’t” and “girl, that’s messed up.”
I met with the manager of the group, and she was very surprised by everything that went down. She has worked with Jane much longer than I have so I figured she would have more insight into why things happened the way they did. I got a little clarity from the conversation, but my mind was made up that I wasn’t going to say anything to Jane beyond “hello” and “goodbye” for the duration of the project. Operation “Petty Betty” was going to be in full effect – effective immediately!
However, when I saw her, I couldn’t utter any words. Disgust came over me anytime we were within feet of each other so I just looked right past her as if she didn’t exist; she was dead to me. This behavior went on for almost a full week until the inevitable occurred – we ended up in the ladies’ room at the same time!
I walked in as she was washing her hands, and she saw me in the mirror when she looked up. I walked so closely to the bathroom stalls to avoid her that it looked as though I was walking on a tightrope. Just as I was about to slide into a stall and close the door, she turned around and began to apologize. I had no computers or emails to distract me this time. I could either close the door on her face or stop in my tracks and listen to her – I chose the latter.
Once she was done with her apology, I used the opportunity to educate her why I was so upset and why it wasn’t cool for her to introduce me in the manner that she did. She apologized once more; I accepted her apology and told her not to beat herself up about it – it was done. She walked out, and I continued my business in the ladies’ room.
The next morning when I arrived to the office, I saw the most beautiful vase of flowers sitting on my desk. There was no card or note attached so I began asking everyone if they knew who placed them there. After a thorough investigation (I’m totally exaggerating), I learned that Jane gave them to me as a peace offering. I sat there for a few moments staring at the flowers, and I heard the Lord’s voice; He told me that I needed to go speak to her.
It took me a while, but I finally tracked her down and personally thanked her for the beautiful flowers. She told me that the situation had bothered her every day since it happened; she said she felt horribly and apologized once more. I told her I had forgiven her and thanked her for the flowers before I went back to my desk. Operation “Petty Betty” was officially cancelled.
I felt better as well as a sense of relief afterwards. I didn’t need to spend any more energy trying to avoid her or walking against the walls to maximize the distance between us; all that extra stuff had become exhausting. The lesson learned was that I should have forgiven her long before she apologized; I could have saved the acrobatics for something else!