It's been two weeks since my college friend, who became a co-worker, has been giving me the cold shoulder. I've asked her if anything was wrong or if I had offended her in some way but she just ignores me. I asked her to coffee, to lunch, and to go for a walk so we could talk, but she turns me down each time.
I just found out through a girl at work why she's upset: she was offended when I made a comment about her buck teeth during lunch one day. I said, "I never noticed this before but you have buck teeth! It's cute! My sisters have them, too. It's like Kate Hudson." I didn't mean to hurt her feelings; she just went on with the conversation so I didn't know that I had. I've tried to apologize several times but as it turns out, she's been talking about me behind my back. What should I do? — At a Loss Annie
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Dear At a Loss Annie,
Although I know you were just stating an observation, try to put yourself in your friend's shoes for a moment. It was an undercutting compliment and I don't blame her for having hurt feelings. With that said, since you were unaware of how upset you made her feel, I don't blame you for not apologizing sooner or smoothing things over right after the comment came out of your mouth.
We all react to uncomfortable situations differently and it sounds to me like your friend is trying to avoid confrontation at all costs. Instead of hearing you out and letting you apologize, she's trying to make you feel as badly as she does. Though talking about you behind your back isn't the most mature approach, it's clear that she's chosen the passive-aggressive route instead of facing this head on. Since she's ignoring your attempts, I'd send her an apologetic email. Tell her that if you had known that your words hurt her as much as they did, you would have made an effort to apologize sooner or try to make it up to her. Explain that you've been trying to get face time with her to work everything out and that you feel terrible for what you did. Say you're sorry however many times you need to and then wait for her to come to you. I'm sure she's more embarrassed than hurt at this point so be prepared for her to need time before forgiving your mistake.