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I sort of lost it at a semi-work function. Should I apologize to my colleagues who were present?
August 6, 2012 8:57 AM   Subscribe

I sort of lost it at a semi-work function. Should I apologize to my colleagues who were present? We work in the web industry and were having a sort of day where we all get together in one room and fix bugs, discuss new features, etc. Present were people from our company as well as other users of the software.

We work in the web dev industry and were having a sort of day where we all get together in one room and fix bugs, discuss new features, etc. Present were people from our company as well as other users of the software. Just before I started working, my computer setup out of the blue stopped working, and I got frustrated. Then when i finally got that working again, a bunch of other things went wrong (I couldn't get online to download this software I needed, etc). All around me, it seemed like people were having discussions about bugs and fixing issues and laughing and contributing, and I'm here unable to help because my computer isn't acting right. I thought about asking for help, but I've asked for help a lot in the past and people seemed so focused on bug fixing that I didn't want to be seen as a burden. The longer I sat there, the more frustrated I got. Finally I gave up and left, going home and joining them remotely. I sort of left in a huff, not really looking at anyone and not saying goodbye. I did help fix bugs when I was home but it wasn't the same.

Later in the evening I joined my colleagues at a restaurant for a dinner and I felt bad about storming out later. In hindsight, I don't think my actions were professional. I didn't scream or cuss or slam things on the table or anything, but more like left out of frustration. I found out that the internet had been down for everyone (not just me) and they had fixed the problem 30 seconds after I'd left. So I felt guilty. They were laughing and joking about my "rage" and about how I just left. I should have apologized then but being the idiot I am, I laughed along with them and admitted that yeah, I was mad.

I noticed that one of my team leaders didn't really talk to me for the rest of the night, or if he did, it seemed reluctant. Before my incident it was fine but afterward it felt like he was ignoring me. It could be just my imagination but it's really bothering me. He did say "cheers" to me at the restaurant when my drink arrived, but that's about it. After we had dinner we all went to a company party. He left without saying goodbye. I know he has an early flight today so I texted him last night saying goodbye and safe travels but he has not responded so far. I really like/look up to him (and the rest of my colleagues) a lot and care what they think of me.

I just feel really guilty about my actions. Because I was frustrated I missed out on working physically with everyone. I should have taken a walk or not taken it so seriously. I wish I could turn back the clock. I had been having such a good weekend with my co-workers and I ruined it in a moment of frustration. I overreacted. I have been feeling insecure about my skills and abilities in comparison to my co-workers. I try my personal best at work but I am still average, I have no stand-out skills like the rest of my team members do (and I've been on the team the second-longest). I love my job and I love my co-workers very much but I feel lower than them. Even though my team lead is always so encouraging, I still have trouble believing that I'm good enough. I think my frustration when the computer quit working was due to my insecurities, and not the computer itself. I really wanted to contribute and prove that I am worth something.

Anyway, I was thinking about sending a quick online apology to my 3 co-workers who were present when I walked out (we use online apps a lot to communicate). I worry that I've permanently tainted my reputation on my team and in the company. People were still nice to me last night but you never know what someone is really thinking, plus as I mentioned above, one of the team leads seemed like he was ignoring me.

Do you think an apology would be appropriate? Or do you think I should just do nothing and let it go? I'm very ashamed and I feel like a horrible person for what I did. I can barely stand to look at myself. The apology would be quick, something like, "Hi guys! Hope you're having a great morning. I woke up feeling guilty about walking out yesterday, and wanted to apologize. It won't happen again. Have a great day!"

Thanks for any insights.
posted by starpoint to Human Relations (47 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
 
Yes, send an apology that includes a brief explanation of why you did what you did (can be extracted from your question text). Include words to the effect that it won't happen again. Some of this language you used is good: I'm here unable to help because my computer isn't acting right. I thought about asking for help, but I've asked for help a lot in the past and people seemed so focused on bug fixing that I didn't want to be seen as a burden. The longer I sat there, the more frustrated I got....I should have taken a walk or not taken it so seriously. I wish I could turn back the clock. I had been having such a good weekend with my co-workers and I ruined it in a moment of frustration. I overreacted.
posted by beagle at 9:03 AM on August 6, 2012 [2 favorites]


I should have apologized then but being the idiot I am, I laughed along with them and admitted that yeah, I was mad.

It sounds to me like you already handled this well. You admitted that you let yourself get worked up and you were able to laugh at yourself about it, which shows your coworkers that you're over it and that you realize that your irritation was over-the-top. Based on the way you described what happened, that sounds like just the right level of response; you didn't do anything that merits a big, serious apology.
posted by enn at 9:06 AM on August 6, 2012 [29 favorites]


seems like you are being a bit hard on yourself; leaving out of frustration and working at home is not necessarily unprofessional. Everyone has a bad day sometimes and needs some space. I think if your coworkers were joking with you about it, they probably don't see it as a big deal. However, if you want to send a light email apologizing again (don't make it too long or heavy) then that might help you feel better. Just don't beat yourself up over this.
posted by bearette at 9:09 AM on August 6, 2012 [12 favorites]


Based on your description, I don't think you've done anything that needed apologizing for -- specifically, I don't think there is anyone to whom you have to apologize.

So that's tricky, right, because there's some bad energy in the room around how you acted, but it doesn't have a focal point and it hasn't erupted as a problem, so there's nothing to fix, there's just some weirdness because of something you did.

It's at least possible that the weirdness is because you are overthinking it -- your co-workers may not think it's that big a deal at all and you may be being harder on yourself than anybody else is -- but let's say that people did find it off-putting that you stormed out of the room like that.

The best way to deal with it is to establish yourself as a friendly, reliable, helpful, and considerate co-worker. Everybody has bad moments. Everybody knows that. An apology isn't really a do-over: it won't erase the past. Don't worry about the past. Make a better future.
posted by gauche at 9:11 AM on August 6, 2012 [3 favorites]


I think your failure to walk it off / calm down is less important than your initial failure to ask for help. Out of insecurity you're trying to seem perfect, and that's an unsustainable act which only leads to silly mistakes like not realizing that everyone in the room was having the same problem. So next time you have a technical problem, talk to your colleagues rather than hiding.

Having acknowledged that you were mad, I don't know that an apology is necessary. You seem more embarrassed than sorry.
posted by jon1270 at 9:12 AM on August 6, 2012 [2 favorites]


You should cut yourself some slack. I'm sure every one of your colleagues has acted out of frustration before. They understand, which is why they were joking with you and being good sports. It seems like you've handled it well, joking along. More importantly, after this you know you would act differently in the future. The insecurity is a separate issue.

If a coworker that I otherwise liked did something like what you describe, I honestly would not even think twice about it. I don't even think you acted bratty. You acted human.
posted by Katine at 9:12 AM on August 6, 2012 [2 favorites]


There is a real danger here that in sending an email using any of the language beagle suggested, you are yourself making a big deal about something that other people do not currently think is a big deal.

Related to that, I wonder if you maybe suffer from some social anxiety issues. The "I thought about asking for help, but I've asked for help a lot in the past" comment, the thing about your supervisor and the sheer amount of shame you seem to be experiencing... I'm concerned that may be out of proportion to the incident you describe.

Regardless, I think your suggested email is fine. It's low key enough that it doesn't create a thing if there wasn't one, but deals with it if there was. Good job.
posted by DarlingBri at 9:13 AM on August 6, 2012 [15 favorites]


You are VERY hard on yourself. I've screamed at my boss in a room full of people, "No body cares what you think!" (I had a blood sugar dip. Also, I was right.)

Under the circumstances, you acted appropriately. So your team-lead was distant, no biggie, you never know what's on a person's mind. Maybe he's going through stuff at home.

If someone else did what you did, what would you think? Probably not a lot.

You didn't go all, Office Space on a printer. You left quietly and came back online when you could.

Sheesh. You didn't take a shit on the Thanksgiving Turkey.

I'd leave it alone. If you go through the motions of a big apology, you'll just make it seem like a bigger deal than it was.

Never discuss it again. Don't apologize again. It's done and over.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 9:14 AM on August 6, 2012 [7 favorites]


Your profile says you're 29. I think you really got to work on this stuff. That is way too old for having a snit fit about computer problems and storming out. It's also way too old to have these crippling self-esteem issues. I'm torn between whether you should say something or not. I don't know that an apology will mean as much as you want it to. Actions speak so much louder than words. But it is a type of action and if you can follow-up with real positive steps and interactions then it may be the right thing to do.

Look, if you feel like your skills are not up to snuff, you need to make a plan to get there. Night classes. Peer working groups. Books. Make a curriculum for yourself and pick 1 or 2 core areas and go after them and keep working at it until you are an expert. But quit obsessing over this and make positive steps to improve.

You should also really try to release yourself from imagining what everyone else is thinking about you. People may indeed be behaving cool toward you due to your temper tantrum but you're projecting a lot of your insecurities and feelings onto their behavior. You have no way of knowing what they are thinking about you. This is a serious self-esteem problem. When people push other people away? Those people stay away. But, it's unlikely that they hate you or are thinking too deeply about what you did. Obviously, you're not doing much to build rapport but don't over-dramatize the interactions...that will just push them further away.

So, yeah, I think a very short apology is actually a good idea. Then hunker down, focus on your work, quit worrying about whether people hate you or not. Be genuine and friendly and when you get frustrated, have a set of coping skills at the ready. "I'll be right back" = go for a walk around the block; go to the bathroom and splash water on your face; take 3 deep breaths, whatever it takes. And give yourself a freakin' break! You are way too hard on yourself.
posted by amanda at 9:14 AM on August 6, 2012 [3 favorites]


I'm seeing a lot of anxiety here. You're worried about asking for help, you're worried about what people are thinking, you're imagining (rightly or wrongly) that people are thinking badly about you,you're feeling insecure about your abilities, and it all got so overwhelming for you that you left.

I don't know about apologizing, but I suspect it's a much bigger deal in your head than in your coworkers' heads. The more important thing is to realize that you may be suffering from anxiety and will probably see your life drastically improve if you get some therapy.
posted by callmejay at 9:16 AM on August 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


I noticed that one of my team leaders didn't really talk to me for the rest of the night, or if he did, it seemed reluctant. Before my incident it was fine but afterward it felt like he was ignoring me.

People so often interpret the silence of others as judgement, but it might have been just awkwardness or even sympathy for your discomfort and embarrassment. He may have been struggling for something to say that would make you feel better, but since he couldn't he felt like it was better to just say nothing at all.
posted by Rock Steady at 9:17 AM on August 6, 2012


I think you are putting a lot of long-felt frustration and worry into this particular event. You feel insecure about your skills and position in the team, to the point where you can't admit you have a simple technical problem to other members of your team. I agree with amanda that you must build up skills on your own, as well as find a way to manage your own self-esteem and ability to communicate when you do have a problem. These are job skills as well as life skills. Good luck.
posted by Riverine at 9:18 AM on August 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


In my experience, there's no need to apologize. Yes, you should have asked for help. Yes, you shouldn't have gotten frustrated (but everyone does!) But I think leaving the situation and removing yourself to somewhere where you could effectively get work done was actually the best idea, at the time. IE, you did the right thing.

I think the best thing you can do is work on your anxiety and self-esteem issues so that this doesn't happen the next time you get frustrated and feel inadequate.
posted by muddgirl at 9:21 AM on August 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


They were laughing and joking about my "rage" and about how I just left. I should have apologized then but being the idiot I am, I laughed along with them and admitted that yeah, I was mad.

This was them putting the issue to bed. They gave you some shit about it, and you did exactly the right thing by laughing along and acting like it wasn't a big deal. It has now officially been dealt with, and there's no need to reopen the issue.
posted by Ragged Richard at 9:24 AM on August 6, 2012 [20 favorites]


You say this was only a "semi" work function. It would seem to me to be making a mountain out of a molehill to apologize for giving up in frustration on a voluntary, non-official event. You've already explained to people what happened and have allowed them to josh you about it in good spirit. That should be the end of the story.

And yeah, in future if you're having trouble connecting to the 'net say "hey, is anyone else having trouble getting connected?" But really, we all have our bad days when these things get the better of us. This was, by any measure, no big deal.

Oh, and as for the team leader you look up to who you're afraid of having offended--there are a million reasons he might have been in a bit of a distant mood that night. He could be anxious about something utterly unrelated to work or just having a bit of a spacey day or whatever. If the weirdness continues after he returns, it's worth broaching the topic with him and asking him what's up, but otherwise just continue to be yourself and things will almost certainly just go back to normal.
posted by yoink at 9:29 AM on August 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


This sounds to me like you already handled it fine. Stuff happens, people are human, you went back and laughed at yourself with the team. I'd say all was right with the world. Go easier on yourself and concentrate on impressing with your skills not this social hiccup.
posted by merocet at 9:39 AM on August 6, 2012


This was them putting the issue to bed. They gave you some shit about it, and you did exactly the right thing by laughing along and acting like it wasn't a big deal. It has now officially been dealt with, and there's no need to reopen the issue.

Yes, this is a good point too. I'd take it to mean that you are in the clear and have generally re-joined the team. Because you seem to be beating yourself up for not getting all formal and serious at this point, remember that it is okay to laugh at yourself and to take a little good-natured ribbing about something like this. For a minor offense (and I think that this was a minor offense) sometimes the apology is all subtext. It sounds like your apology has already been solicited and delivered by subtext and you should move forward. For something like this, a formal apology is too much for the

And yes, to be explicit about it, I too think that you may have some social anxiety which you might want to work on. Good luck!
posted by gauche at 9:42 AM on August 6, 2012


I wouldn't press the subject with your team leader. He was probably irritated with you but it's the kind of thing that everyone moves on from with a little time and space.

Just keep doing your best. The next time you end up feeling this frustrated, remember the shame you felt after the fact and use that to help yourself find a more productive way out of the jam you're in.
posted by hermitosis at 9:48 AM on August 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


Wow thanks for all the answers everyone! Yes, I do need to work on social anxiety issues as some of you mentioned. Some of you also say I shouldn't apologize since the issue was "put to bed" when my coworkers joked about me walking out. I hear what you're saying but still feel like a quick apology would at least help clear my overwhelming guilt and embarrassment.
posted by starpoint at 9:55 AM on August 6, 2012


Apologizing in this kind of atmosphere (I'm assuming most of these people are men) is just going to end up making it awkward and weird. If you can make a self-deprecating joke about it, fine, but otherwise ignore it and move on, and maybe see someone about what sounds like some significant social anxiety.
posted by the young rope-rider at 9:57 AM on August 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


Your overwhelming guilt and embarrassment is something that you can learn to deal with on your own, and honestly in this situation it would be more socially appropriate to learn how to tolerate this kind of distress yourself. As someone who gets a lot of these social anxiety apologies, it can be uncomfortable to watch people beating up on themselves about something that no one else really noticed and it really prolongs the issue.
posted by the young rope-rider at 9:59 AM on August 6, 2012 [2 favorites]


Yes, I'm female but they are all men. Is that significant?
posted by starpoint at 9:59 AM on August 6, 2012


I wouldn't apologize. I have a strict policy of not admitting fault in work emails to prevent them from being used against me in employment decisions (promotions, terminations, etc.)
posted by murfed13 at 10:00 AM on August 6, 2012 [7 favorites]


Its fine to admit to people that you kinda lost it and that you're sorry. It let's them know you went too far, which means that you are less likely to do it in the future.
posted by Ironmouth at 10:01 AM on August 6, 2012


Yes. Mostly male atmospheres are not as big on the apologies; joking around is more how it's handled when something like this happens. Also, in general, women (and I am a woman) tend to apologize too much and so in this sort of a situation I would err on the side of not apologizing. I also assume that your gender is part of what is making you feel lesser than and insecure; we're socialized to undersell and underestimate ourselves, especially in traditionally male fields. You are probably a better coder than you think.
posted by the young rope-rider at 10:01 AM on August 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


I'm getting mixed responses as to whether or not I should apologize and I'm unsure what to do, now, lol.
posted by starpoint at 10:02 AM on August 6, 2012


Thanks for the updates. Yes, you are acting like a young woman who feels a need to abase herself in a room full of male coworkers. You have every right to take yourself seriously. You're a competent professional with a lot to give.

Here's one thing to know: the only reason they would have teased you about this was because it was NOT a big deal. If it'd been a big deal, they wouldn't have said anything.

Your draft of an apology email wasn't bad. It was short and funny and it's fine to send... and yet... I would find this email grating. it's so INSISTENTLY people-pleasing and exclamatory and you really give yourself away when you wish people a "great day" twice.

You are projecting: desperately trying to read into people's silences and actions. You are flapping your hands with anxiety: you've found a way to freak out about 15 different things in the course of one minor event.

In my experience, it's not your "average" competency or whatever that's giving you problems at work. It's because you are entirely held hostage to your anxiety.

Don't apologize! I bet you've spent your life apologizing. Go to work! Do a good job! Be friendly! Be outgoing! Be interesting and interested! Learn new things! Challenge yourself!

And stop worrying. And if you find you can't stop worrying, please ask a professional for help with that.

And NOW you are worrying about our conflicting answers. You're going to have to make up your own mind here.

But first: stop and listen to yourself here: "I'm very ashamed and I feel like a horrible person for what I did. I can barely stand to look at myself."

That's not right. Something is terribly wrong with this statement. You cannot go through life this way.
posted by RJ Reynolds at 10:02 AM on August 6, 2012 [24 favorites]


I would find this email grating. it's so INSISTENTLY people-pleasing and exclamatory and you really give yourself away when you wish people a "great day" twice.

Yes. It comes across as very needy, which it is, because you feel that you need their approval in order to rid yourself of your overwhelming guilt and shame. You definitely need help with these feelings, but not from your coworkers--you need help from a competent professional.

Best of luck.
posted by the young rope-rider at 10:06 AM on August 6, 2012 [2 favorites]


Write an apology email.

Send it to yourself.

Read apology email.

Forgive yourself.

Move on.
posted by itesser at 10:07 AM on August 6, 2012 [12 favorites]


I do think knowing you're a woman and they're all male is relevant, and that especially with the gender difference in mind you shouldn't apologize any further. (I am a woman, working with mostly men.) It's still a reality that women are often perceived as more emotional than men in an office setting, and by bending over backward to apologize for what was actually a rather minor outburst, you're going to draw even further attention to your behavior.

What you should do, without a doubt, is up your level of professionalism and confidence in the future in your interactions with these people. The way to make amends for this kind of thing is to acknowledge it (which you have done), and never do it again. If you don't feel the confidence, you fake it until you feel it for real. Lots of people are faking it, by the way. Most of the people you think are better than you are also have doubts about their abilities.
posted by something something at 10:11 AM on August 6, 2012 [4 favorites]


There really is no reason to feel overwhelming guilt and embarrassment about this. People probably have already forgotten about it, seriously. Just be awesome at work for the next week and let it go. No one -- NO ONE -- else is as focused on this as you are. Don't bring it back up by apologizing for something everyone else has already moved past.
posted by Countess Sandwich at 10:12 AM on August 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


Thanks you guys, based on what you've said, I will err on the side of not sending the apology and just try to focus on my work. I'll do what I can to improve/build up on my skills and will look into therapy. Therapy is something I've considered in the past and I did see a therapist a few years ago for a short time while in school, but our time together wasn't long enough. This job is exposing all of these issues that I've had all my life. If I don't do something about it now, they'll just continue and get worse and worse. Before you know it I'll be 59 and writing posts like this. So I better get help or start making some changes now.

There are other women in the company (though not many) and another woman on my team, but they're are talented and good at what they do. They're not overly emotional like I am. Not typical "girly-girls", but still feminine. It's hard to describe. Perhaps I should follow their cue.

I guess it wasn't a big deal but not sure why one of my team leads seemed distant with me afterward (he was not distant with others). Maybe, as someone suggested, he was unsure of what to say, or he had something else on his mind. Or it could have been me projecting my feelings onto him. I'll try not to worry about it and hope, if he's mad at me, that he can forgive me. I just thought an apology would set things right with him, but maybe it would just make things worse based on what you guys have said.
posted by starpoint at 10:18 AM on August 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


Yes, I'm female but they are all men. Is that significant?

Yes. Don't apologise.
posted by DarlingBri at 10:21 AM on August 6, 2012 [8 favorites]


I realize that you are embarrassed and agree that some sort of apology is probably in order. I think that your greatest danger here though is in overapologizing. This might be about right:

Make your apology concise, professional, and to the point. Don't spend a lot of time explaining your motivations or giving a play-by-play of everything you did wrong. Don't make it dramatic or emotional -- that would be out of proportion with the relatively minor social error that you committed, and would make your coworkers feel weird. Just say that you wanted to apologize for walking out on the meeting, that it wasn't due to the actions of any of your coworkers but rather that you were a bit frustrated with your computer and it got the better of you, that you don't intend to make a habit of that kind of thing, and that you hope that people understand and are willing to look past it so that you can continue the otherwise excellent working relationship that you feel you have had with them to date.

That's all you need to say. Maybe mention it to your supervisor in private or via e-mail (your call, and whatever you do don't pull them aside; just drop in during a quiet moment) and use your judgement about whether or not you need to say anything to any of your coworkers in particular (maybe mention to a friend or ally that you feel embarrassed about how you acted and hope people won't feel too weird about it, and trust them to spread it around) or to all of your coworkers in general (I'd lean against sending a mass e-mail though, that's probably disporportionate). You could easily go over the top with the apology here and make things worse; remember that you probably feel worse about the incident than anyone else.
posted by Scientist at 10:30 AM on August 6, 2012


I would apologise but leave out the 'Hi Guys!' and all the faux happiness and exclamations. It isn't genuine.
posted by Frasermoo at 10:30 AM on August 6, 2012


They're not overly emotional like I am.

Again, this is you projecting AND also beating yourself up at the same time.

I think most people would describe me as "not overly emotional" based on my work demeanor. Still, on Friday I had to quickly leave a confrontation with a coworker and cry in the bathroom for a couple minutes before I put my game face on and went back out to deal with shit. It's rare for me at this point in my career, but it still happens.

I'm pretty sure everyone knew I was crying, but I didn't come in this morning to apologize, because there was nothing to apologize for. I didn't chew anyone out. I didn't insult anyone. My crying jag didn't affect anyone or my performance of the job (just as it doesn't look like your anxiety affected your work all that much).
posted by muddgirl at 10:42 AM on August 6, 2012


I'll try not to worry about it and hope, if he's mad at me, that he can forgive me. I just thought an apology would set things right with him, but maybe it would just make things worse based on what you guys have said.

I think there's a way to let your team leader know that you know you did something wrong, and that you're not going to do it again (are you going to do it again?), without apologizing. Again, I can't quite figure out what you think you need to say "I'm sorry" for? For being rude?
posted by muddgirl at 10:50 AM on August 6, 2012


woman here, working in an all-male office. DON'T APOLOGIZE. they've acknowledged and gotten past it by now, and an apology will only make you look weaker and more emotional than your original transgression did.

it goes without saying that you should be more professional from here on out. try thinking of yourself as a cold-blooded assassin (okay, works for me, but ymmv)
posted by dynamiiiite at 10:51 AM on August 6, 2012 [9 favorites]


I would apologize to the team leader in private if the chance came up in the next couple of days. Short and sweet and in person (no emails about this for a variety of reasons). "Hey sorry I ran out abruptly at the meeting the other day... I was so frustrated I couldn't get wireless to work and thought it was just me! Anyway, won't happen again. Now about that [change the subject]."

If you miss the chance, let it go though. As said, teasing you about it was their way of acknowledging it and indicating it wasn't that big a deal.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 10:53 AM on August 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


This is a job for ... donuts. Or whatever else is a treat in the office. Go to each co-worker with your treat: I brought cupcakes from Fabulosity. Great; aren't they kind of out of your way/expensive/you have to wait in line? Yeah, I had to wait in line and sell my car to afford them, but you guys put up with my bad temper, so you're worth it, every one of you. Plus, then you get cupcakes/donuts/chocolates, too. Everybody wins!
posted by theora55 at 11:23 AM on August 6, 2012


As a woman who worked in a male dominated technical position for decades, let me implore you, DO NOT APPOLOGIZE any more!

Also, don't get coffee, don't act offended when people swear and don't cry at work. Ever. For any reason.

As a woman you have to let WAY more stuff roll off your back. We're judged all the time by men and other women. You've got it a lot easier. I felt like an ass making a fuss over the coffee, but I had to stand my ground. "I'll be happy to tell you where the coffee is, but I don't get the coffee."

Okay, I'll gt off the soap box now.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 11:41 AM on August 6, 2012 [2 favorites]


Donuts might be a good idea, but don't *SAY* they're penance.

If a coworker pointedly used food to apologize, and flog a dead horse of their guilt over a minor incident, it would make me lose my appetite for the food.

I don't mind guilt-donuts, but I'd rather privately consider/ignore the guilt ingredient, rather than have it pointed out.

This is definitely one of the cases where the best way to make a freak out go away is to stop talking about it.
posted by itesser at 11:42 AM on August 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


Yeah. I agree with anyone who says to let it go. It's over. Drop it. Stop drawing attention to the fact that you fucked up a little. IF anyone says anything about it, laugh, say "yeah, sorry about that", and move on. IF your boss brings it up, don't laugh, say "I'm sorry about that. It won't happen again." And then live up to that promise. Banging on about it would just be irrotating and uncomfortable for everyone else. Especially men; they often have little patience for extensive emotional dramas.

I think a more important set of issues here is a) that you overreact and have trouble controlling it, and that it's so tied in with peoples' approval. Are you BPD? You might want to consider therapy, as people have suggested, to learn how to control your emotional responses/ behaviour; and b) that you don't feel secure about your job performance. I'd suggest taking action to determine what kind of tasks you're having trouble with and sorting out a solution; if you create a plan to help you feel better about your performance, and follow it, maybe you'll be a little less insecure.
posted by windykites at 12:30 PM on August 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


I'll have to disagree with the poster above who argued that you're "way too old" to be having self-esteem issues. There's no established timetable in combating longstanding anxiety (social or otherwise) issues you may have. I wouldn't cave in too much to (IMHO arbitrary) age-based social pressure--it's a surefire way to further self-criticism.
posted by freeform at 12:50 PM on August 6, 2012 [2 favorites]


Don't apologize. If your coworkers are annoyed in some way by your leaving the group event (I think that by joking about it they are bringing you back into the fold, and by going along with that you've concluded any discussion about it) then doing this thing were they they additionally have to deal with your overwrought emotions by making you feel better would be super annoying. If I was one of your coworkers I'd be peeved, "Oh great, she left and now I have to make her feel good about it?" and probably eat you alive the next time something happened.

Your best approach is to just be better: a better coder, a more reliable teammate and a more professional person in general. The only way I would even come close to addressing this in future is maybe in a couple of weeks, after you've had a good think about what specific skills deficiencies you are concerned you have and exactly how you plan to address them, is to sit down one-on-one with your team leader and say "Hey, I've been concerned that maybe I could be missing out on some advanced skills doing X and was going to take some classes/read this book/work on a special personal project to address it. It seemed a few weeks ago that I was frustrated at not making the contributions of myself that I would expect and wanted to address it. Do you think this is a good approach?". That's it. And yeah, get some help because the anxiety you're experiencing seems to be holding you back (but you don't need to tell anyone you're doing that!).

My bottom line with apologizing is this: don't make the person you think you've wronged have the additional burden of making you feel better about having wronged them. If it's just about you, then it's not appropriate.
posted by marylynn at 2:16 PM on August 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


I absolutely disagree with those saying an apology is needed here. It is not, and will only serve to remind your colleagues of the problem. Don't make this more about you. Move on.

The best way to make up for this is to be solid at your job. Doughnuts matter much less than hitting deadlines.
posted by bonehead at 7:27 AM on August 7, 2012


When I read "I lost it at a work function" ... I was expecting verbal arguments, maybe someone pushed someone, maybe deliberately sabotaging a presentation or something like that.

This sounds like... yeah sure you shouldn't have left in a huff, but things happen right? I've seen things like that happen with colleagues and I always think "well sure that was a bit weird, but I don't know whats going on in their personal life... maybe they are under extreme stress, maybe not feeling the best" etc.

I wouldn't mention it, just make sure to be the kind of professional you want to be going forward.

What I would think if you sent this email is that you are the type of person to do things and then blow them up into a big deal in your mind and then make everyone have to forgive you for them later.

The joke was (probably) their way of saying "hey that was a bit weird but no biggie, you're still cool with us".

Your supervisor kinda being aloof ... maybe he has problems at home on his mind? Maybe someone made a joke at his expense that you didn't notice. Maybe he's not feeling the best?
posted by Admira at 8:15 PM on August 7, 2012


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