What Should I Do If I’ve Offended A Co-Worker?

Question:

We joke around at work about things. I made a remark to a lady about having two boy friends because she said she had two homes. It slipped out and I apologized for it. I think she was hurt.

What should I do now?

Signed,

Apologetic


Answer:

Dear Apologetic:

When there is a lot of joking between coworkers and friends, it’s almost inevitable that something will be said, sometime, that will be considered “over the line” by someone.

What you said does not sound so bad to me! But, if your coworker seemed hurt or offended, it may be the way it was said or the context of it. Let’s face it, some people can say something and it sounds funny, while other people say it and it sounds like an insult! Or, one time we take something as funny and the next time we take it badly.

It’s the weekend now. When you work with this person again, immediately go up to her and say, “Hey, I didn’t sleep all weekend, for worrying about what I said when I was joking around last week. Will you forgive me for that? Please????”

Let her know you sincerely are concerned and I would bet she will say it’s OK, and the two of you can move forward.

If you know her very well…and it would have to be very, very well…you might consider calling her at home over the weekend, and telling her you didn’t want even one day to go by without you talking to her and saying that you’re sorry.

It may be that she has thought about it and realizes you meant nothing bad by your remarks. If you have had a history of getting along well with her, or at least of not saying unpleasant things to her, she will realize that it wouldn’t be like you to make a purposely hurtful remark. You may be blaming yourself more than she is blaming you. So, get it out in the open, apologize, be careful with her in the future on topics like that, and refocus on work. Time nearly always takes care of these issues.

Best wishes to you!

Tina Lewis Rowe

Tina Lewis Rowe

Tina had a thirty-three year career in law enforcement, serving with the Denver Police Department from 1969-1994 and was the Presidential United States Marshal for Colorado from 1994-2002. She provides training to law enforcement organizations and private sector groups and does conference presentations related to leadership, workplace communications and customized topics. Her style is inspirational with humor.