Ask The Right Questions
If she’s suddenly copping an attitude before you’ve even said a word, it’s time to figure out what’s really bothering her. Ask: “I know you well enough to know something’s up. What else is upsetting you so much right now?” This question shows that you’re concerned about her—and she’ll be more likely to reveal how she got reamed out by her boss, stepped in dog shit, and logged into her checking account to find out it’s overdrawn. (If you’re the one who’s getting snappy? Take a step back, and be sure to tell her that you had a rough day.)
Craft A Better “I’m Sorry”
If you fired off a low-blow like calling her the b-word or telling her she’s just like her mother, cop to the eff-up right away. Say, “Sorry, I shouldn’t have said that. I didn’t mean it. Let me rephrase it...” Calling it out immediately is much more effective than apologizing later on. “Rephrasing it in the heat of the moment will show her that you really are sorry—and aren’t just saying it afterward to smooth things over,” Rivkin says.