Trying Not to Offend Anyone

Dear Mrs. McVeigh,
I have a co-worker in my office who misses a lot of days because her daughter is always sick. The other day when she came to work after being off I greeted her and told her she was missed. She said she was absent because her daughter was sick. I said, “She was sick again?” The way I said it was out of concern, but unfortunately she got very angry with me and said, “Yes she was sick again!” and left mad. I then tracked her down and told her that I was sorry if I offended her and was just concerned for her daughter’s health, and that was all I meant. Since then she has been acting cool to me, so how could I have handled this differently?

Dear B.T.,
It could have been your tone of voice that was offensive, or that you have a very paranoid co-worker. She may feel like she is taking too many days off, and is worried that her boss is thinking that her daughter could not possibly be that sick all of the time. Whatever her reasoning, you obviously did the right thing by apologizing to her right away, and explaining your intention of the remark that you made. If things between the two of you have been fine up until now and she is still upset with you, then she obviously has something else that is bothering her. I would not worry about it, and I would think that your relationship would get back to normal soon. If it does not then decide if it is worth confronting her again and asking her if there is something you can do to make things okay between the two of you.