Q: I need help ending a grudge held against me by a former co-worker. Nearly 10 years ago, we both worked in a toxic office. Her contract wasn't renewed, and I later heard through the grapevine that she blamed me because of something I had naively said when our manager was bad-mouthing her. I don't remember what I supposedly said, but I doubt it was the reason she was let go.
I didn't realize I'd made an enemy until I tried to greet her at an event four years ago and she replied, "Go away; I'm still mad at you."
We work in a small industry for a certain cause, and she is a leader in a professional association I belong to. We have many contacts in common and could promote each other's work, but I have wondered if she's sandbagged some of my outreach efforts to others.
I have told a mutual acquaintance that I want to apologize. I wonder if I should ask to speak with her at the next association event and see if we can get back to normal.
I could also try extending a public "olive branch" by promoting and praising her work on social media. We don't have to be friends, but I would like to know we're not enemies.
A: It doesn't sound as though this person can be won over by third-party apologies, being cornered at public events, or social media sycophancy. To get her to drop her dukes, you're going to have to be honest and make yourself vulnerable.
Call her and ask to meet in person so you can apologize and clear the air. If she agrees to meet, tell her the following in person — or, if she refuses or hangs up on you, send the following via email or certified letter before you back away for good: