I had this situation recently with an individual on our team. She decided to do something, and we agreed that it would be done this way. Then, without warning, she decided to change it. Ignored the reasons we had spoken about as to why we weren't doing it that way.
It was ok. Nothing super serious. Just going to spend more money than was necessary. So my husband wrote, and I wrote separately, both nice letters, acknowledging that she had changed the plans, reminding why we had had the plans, and yet both of us acknowledging that the plans were now changed. I offered my help to the new person she appointed. I said I could go with this person the first time and help them since I had done the task before.
Well, I still, to this day, weeks later, do not know what I did that was so offensive. The person took a day off work "to recover". From what? I re-read my letter. My husband read it. I even sent it to my parents. I showed it to a friend not connected with our work at all. Each one read it and could not see what the issue was.
We met with her, and she told me my letter was offensive and just too awful to be able to talk about. I asked her if she read the part where I told her it was ok, but offered my assistance if it was wanted. She told me I never said such a thing. I asked her to re-read it, and she did and noticed that in there.
I asked if she could please tell me what was so offensive in the letter as I had no intention of hurting or offending her, but she declined. Told me the letter was "too painful" to go over then and her stress levels would not allow it.
I am still bewildered. It was only about seven sentences, very well written to the point letter. I said about five things.
1. I see you have decided this.
2. We had talked about it and decided not to do this for this reason.
3. I could have helped you if you had told me it was too much for you.
4. Now you have decided that, so we will just leave it be.
5. I am available if the new person would like me to go along the first time since I have done this for years.
That was it. Simple, to the point, polite. Not "kiss your rear end" polite, but polite.
She is not Asian, so I am not dealing with the typical Asian mentality, as I would have addressed this very differently if I was dealing with an Asian person. They have a different way of approaching things, and you have to adapt around them. This person comes from a culture I thought was fairly direct and clear communication. (At least neighboring countries around her are... I am not exactly familiar with her particular country.)
Weeks in now, and it is a strained relationship. It so doesn't have to be. I never intended to offend. I told her so. I asked that we read the seven sentences and she tell me what offended her so I can learn and not do it again.
I'm so tired of playing games with people who like to manipulate. I have been very clear with her that it was not an offensive letter. I apologized that she was offended. I offered to clear it up with her and learn from the situation. She refused because "it's too painful and stressful".
I'm not going to be jerked around by another person in my life who takes perfectly normal things and makes big deals out of them and refuses reconciliation. I've lived too long for more of that sort of thing.
She wants me to meet for coffee. I will, but I will not drop my plans and run. I will when I have time. But the door to rebuilding any type of relationship will be clear and honest communication. Such as "what they heck were you offended about?!" - but phrased nicely with a smile. :-)
I am not married to her. I do not need to smooth over and ignore something and build a relationship on a cracked foundation. I seriously want to know what the heck offended her so I can not do it again. Sorry, I typically don't even use words like "what the heck?", but this is such an odd situation. There was absolutely nothing at all offensive in that letter. It looked like a perfect textbook business letter to deal with a situation change. I don't get it, and I don't want her to get all hurt and stressed again, so I need to figure it out before I do more tasks or jobs with her. I have spent some time trying to research her culture and how they act, but it doesn't seem to be a culture thing as all I read about her culture is that they are direct people who appreciate the type of communication I did.
But she has done one other thing with me, too. She heard something I said in confidence, and went to someone without asking me and tried to clarify it. It wasn't a situation where I asked her to step in-between since it had to do with "Dick" and that is an odd situation. I suffered as a result.
I'm thinking three strikes and you are out. She's at two. She can fix this if she tells me what it is, but just "oh, it was too painful, I can't talk about it" won't cut it. And then she has one more swing. I'm patient, and I am nice, and even if she hits three strikes, I will be kind and friendly and caring. I just won't trust her because I will know she can act unpredictably. But three strikes and she will be off my trusted list.
Because, "I'm offended.... but, no, we can't talk about it" doesn't work with me.