I'm trying to figure out next steps in this truly stupid interpersonal relations drama I'm having. "Sarah" did something I specifically asked her not to do. When I asked her to reverse her action, she complied, but is now overly remorseful. I need to respond, and I want to do it in some way that gets her to stop apologizing while keeping her at arm's length. Details after the jump.
posted by lesli212 to human relations (19 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Sorry for the vaguery about the thing she did. To clarify a bit: The thing she did was not a big deal. I asked beforehand if she was going to do simple thing "X" or complex thing "Y", and said if she was going to do Y, I'd rather not be involved. She said she'd do X and involved me, but then she did Y. Y is easily reversible. Neither option is a hardship to anyone.
After I learned Sarah did Y, I took her aside and said, "So, I asked you not to do Y last week. It's really not a big deal that you did, but I do wish you hadn't; could you please reverse it?" She said "Oh, I forgot you'd asked!" and was abjectly apologetic. I said it was no big deal and if she could just undo the thing, it would be fine.
To me, that's the end of the story. I tend to be nonconfrontational, so I was really proud of myself for being so "mature". Ha.
A few hours later, I get an email from "Sarah." Now she's soooo sorry she's crying while she's typing. The message was brimming with self-flagellation. I don't think it was her intent to try to make me feel terrible for pointing out her mistake, but that's the effect it had. However, I am self aware enough not to actually feel terrible, and instead I'm just annoyed with her.
What now? How do I respond?
I do not want to respond by email, because I sense she is the type of drama happy person who will print out the email and harp on the minute details whatever I've written. I just want to have another quick talk and get it over with. In the past I might have tried to get someone else to handle the drama for me, or just ignored it, but I want to deal with my own problems this time.
Some caveats: (1) I do not like Sarah; I did not like her before this dramarama, but I guess she's just now picking up on that. I have to admit, I probably would have been less serious and more jokey in the initial talk if she'd been a friend, or even someone I liked. It was sort of my goal to use this situation to distance her, though. I could tell she thought we were friends, even though I dislike her. Perhaps this was a mistake on my part - feel free to weigh in on that too. (2) I do not think she actually "forgot"; I suspect that that may be part of why she's overapologizing. We had a 10 minute group conversation about X vs Y, and Y is several orders of magnitude more difficult and complicated than X. I think she just thought I'd never find out, but 10 minute conversations tend to stick in people's minds, and the second she did Y, 4 people who had been involved in the initial conversation noticed and fell all over themselves to tell me she'd done it. I wouldn't have found out if they hadn't told me. (3) I cannot avoid her, since I work at a place she frequents. (This drama has nothing to do with work, and she can't get me fired or anything.)
I want to say something that will get her to understand that this tiff is in the past, but avoids groveling. This is really hard for me -- my first impulse is to go overboard in reassurances, to tell her not to feel bad, that I've always liked her, and I don't want this to drive a wedge between us. None of that is true, I just hate confrontation. I truly don't mind if she dislikes me after the conversation, because if she understands we're not friends, that makes my life a bit easier. However, I do not want her to think I hate her and therefore try to "make it up" to me or impress me with how bad she feels because I don't like her. How do I walk this tightrope?