I am a 36 year old woman and work for a biotech startup on a 4-person sales team. We are aggressive, communicate quickly and swear frequently, for better or worse. We recently hired a new customer service person and he has immediately been sent into challenging or heated situations as part of his role. These situations, through no fault of his own, often result in him getting negative feedback from the customer or someone from one of our internal departments. CS rep related to me that he feels like he is doing something wrong because he is receiving a lot of negative feedback.
Yesterday, we needed to send him into yet another heated situation with our accounting department. Accounting is a nightmare right now. They have two new hires, the director has been out for a non-Covid, non-life threatening medical issue, and we were about to drop a deadline bomb on them that required the department to drop everything and handle this one crucial situation immediately with CEO pushing the issue through. I emailed CS rep and said "If accounting director is pissy with you, you didn't do anything wrong". I also followed up with CS rep via phone to explain the current nightmare situation in accounting so he didn't feel like he did something wrong or caused a problem. Well, my "pissy" email got forwarded to accounting director in a communication string and she took it to HR.
Accounting director told HR she doesn't know what she did to upset me, doesn't understand why I would talk about her that way, and wants disciplinary action to be taken against me. I got a call from HR and I explained the context of the email, how I followed it up with a phone call to CS rep, and how I have absolutely zero issues with accounting director. I apologized, committed to making my email communication "more formal" and "in keeping with the company culture", and how I would never let anything like this happen again. HR director now wants me to call accounting director and apologize directly for hurting her feelings and to explain the context of the email. I called and accounting director won't answer, so I left an apology message and asked her to call me back to discuss further. I can't see her in person because we are remote due to Covid, so phone or email is all I have and HR specifically requested a call.
What do I do now? This is a woman who has the power to delay every sale, PO, invoice and payment. She's clearly very sensitive, and I am concerned that she may lack the professional ability to move forward. I am very sorry I hurt her feelings, have no problem with her as a coworker or person, and did not intend to insult her in any way.
Any guidance or insight is appreciated.