DEAR HARRIETTE: I got so mad at a colleague recently. I was not nice to her when she reached out to me to follow up on the status of an overdue project. There had just been too many times when she dropped the ball, and I didn't feel like hearing what she had to say. In retrospect, I do not feel good about my behavior. Just because she is lax on the job doesn't give me permission to be rude or dismissive to her. Even though she could "deserve" the cold shoulder, I don't want to continue like that with her. I really want to apologize. How can I let her know I'm sorry for how I treated her without her taking it as if her behavior or poor follow-through at work is OK? -- Do the Right Thing, Detroit
DEAR DO THE RIGHT THING: Congratulate yourself on being sensitive to this situation. Yes, people can push your buttons when conditions are stressful. Having a co-worker with poor job performance over a period of time is one of those stressors. You are smart to want to make amends because of your behavior. As the saying goes, "Two wrongs don't make a right."
Ask your colleague if you two can chat. Apologize to her for being short or terse with her. Tell her you know that your behavior was not kind. Admit that you have been extremely frustrated because she has not been performing her job effectively, and the stress of how her poor job performance affects you took you over the edge. Ask her to forgive you for being rude. Probe to find out what the underlying reasons are for her not completing her tasks on time. If you can figure that out, you may be able to help guide her toward better job performance.