A reader writes: "My former boss and I are still good friends. Recently, she sent me an e-mail accusing me of gossiping about her and betraying..."

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My former boss and I are still good friends. Recently, she sent me an e-mail accusing me of gossiping about her and betraying her confidences. I’m careful with what my friends tell me and don’t gossip. How do I regain her trust?


Betrayal is one of the worst emotional experiences for people on the job or off. Being hurt is never fun, but being hurt by anyone you’ve trusted makes you feel like you’ve participated in your own downfall.

When people feel both stupid and hurt, they don’t usually demonstrate their best thinking; they shoot first and ask questions later.

After licking your wounds, realize your former boss has been given bad information or misinterpreted your behavior. What you do next will confirm her fears or encourage her to rethink her conclusions.

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With a workplace friendship in trouble, don’t use e-mail. Phone your friend and let her know you completely understand her reactions if she believes you’ve betrayed her confidences. Let her know how important her friendship is and ask her to meet you in person.

When you see your friend, ask her what’s happened that would lead her to believe you would betray her trust.

When people are hurt or angry, they can develop tunnel vision. They may forget you have been helpful, kind and generous for 400 years and freak out when one person says you did them wrong. Once you remind your friend about your history, she’ll see the current situation against this backdrop.

Your ability to be nondefensive, kind and curious about the accusations likely will be proof enough that a misunderstanding has occurred.

The last word(s)

I work with a guy who gives me the creeps. Everybody says I’m being judgmental, but I can’t shake my reaction. Should I try to be more open-minded?

No, gut reactions are your early warning system. In the wrong situation, the right gut reaction can save your life.

Daneen Skube, Ph.D., can be reached at 1420 N.W. Gilman Blvd., No. 2845, Issaquah, WA 98027-7001; by e-mail at interpersonaledge@comcast.net; or at www.interpersonaledge.com. Sorry no personal replies. To read other Daneen Skube columns, go to: www.seattletimes.com/daneenskube