Earlier today, I was asked by a colleague to follow-up to see if so and so was attending this evening’s meet-up. Sure, no problem! I called and found that the voicemail was full, so I sent a brief to the point email.

A little while later, the response I received had me scratching my head.  I was shocked because the response was accusatory and angry.  This rattled and confused me. How did this response come from the simple request of are you attending and if so, please register here?

Of course, I went back and re-read my email. Was I clear? Did I unknowingly provoke this unwarranted response?  The email was actually upbeat and friendly, hey looking forward to seeing you at tonight’s event.  Being clear, I sent the response I received to my colleague, as in the moment, I was unsure of the best way to respond to this upsetting email.

My colleague was shocked and apologetic, as never in a million years did she expect the response that was received.  She felt badly that a simple email triggered such an accusatory reaction.  Me being me, I felt there was no apology necessary, as she at any given time can and should ask others for help if she needs it.  Secondly, how on earth was she to know (unless of course she checked her crystal ball first) that this would have transpired.  She decided that it would be best if she responded to the email.

I really admire my colleague for many reasons, one is that she has an incredible amount of tact and diplomacy.  As for myself, this isn’t always my strong point (yes, I am owning this part of me).  Actually, I have learned over time, with experience and wisdom, that if I am triggered by something someone has said in an email or verbally, I need to step back and let the initial reaction settle before responding.  In just a few minutes, she sent a response, which was clear, concise and apologetic for any confusion.  Great right?

Unfortunately that would be a big fat NO!  So and so felt it necessary to tear into her, and me, as well as creating these off the wall accusations that obviously this person felt we had made, yet were completely untrue.  Then so and so continued by sending additional responses that were crazier and crazier. **Ding Ding – nut job alert!

Finally, my extremely diplomatic friend reached her breaking point.  She sent a final email, still tactful, keeping to the facts saying, you know what, forget it.  You’re no longer welcome to join us and your check will be returned to you.

Later on before our meeting, we had an opportunity to discuss the events that had taken place earlier.  Neither of us could identify what it was that obviously set this person off, so we came to the only conclusion that we could which is this person has issues. While we were both disturbed, we were grateful to learn this about this person, before any damage could be done.

How would you handle a situation like this?  How would you respond? Would you stick to the facts? Or would you get caught into the drama of the accusations? How would you react to someone accusing you of saying something that you never said?

I have two major take-aways from this experience.  First is that I will always work with women who support and back each other. Being there for each other made all the difference.  Also, that no matter how many professional credentials a person may have, it doesn’t exclude them from being an asshole or to have issues.