There's someone I deal with regularly -- let's call her Betty. Betty and I are closely related and we work together on various projects that she directs. Sometimes I run into a difficult situation with Betty that I haven't been able to figure out. It usually goes like this:
Betty: How's it going?
Me: Frustrating. My widgets are all out of sequence, so I'm putting them back the way they were.
Betty: I didn't get them out of order.
Me: I didn't say it was you, I'm just frustrated that someone got them out of order.
Betty: They were all jumbled up when you left for the weekend.
Me: That's not good, since I had just put them back in sequence. I'll talk to the rest of the team and see what happened.
Betty: Don't do that. Nobody else would have touched them.
Me: Well, there's only me, you, and other people. If it wasn't me and it wasn't you, then it was someone else.
Betty: I don't know why you had them out of order. You're making a big deal out of this. Let's just get stuff done.
This interaction doesn't sit well with me because:
- I come away feeling like I'm the bad guy for making accusations against Betty, when that wasn't my intention at all.
- It makes me feel like I must be interfering with work to just be a troublemaker.
- I end up doubting my own memory of events, which is deeply unsettling.
- Thinking about the interaction later, I end up angry at Betty.
Is there anything I can do to improve the way Betty and I are interacting? We're going to be working together for another few months at least, and we'll be close relatives till one of us dies, so this is a very important relationship to me.
(Also I could use a better title for this post.)