Called a bully (MO)

A director in another department from mine recently took me out to lunch. During lunch, she told me as a friend, that her staff think I am a bully. Twice she asked them to invite me to regular meetings they were having that related to my work and they gave her what she considered excuses she probed further. They said I took it personally if they didn’t agree with me and didn’t always get on board when the rest of the group was going a certain direction. I don’t know what other specifics they gave her but she concluded they think of me as a bully.

Her office is very small. The “staff” she is referring to is pretty much 2-3 women. I thought the two main ones were my friends, particularly one, Melanie, who I consider(ed) my closest friend in town (I moved to the south about 1.5 years ago. I’m originally from Minnesota). I can think of one incident where I confronted Melanie, at the beginning of January. I had invited her to a meeting because I thought we were both in agreement that we wanted to move in a certain direction and was looking for support from her office. During the meeting she completely went the other direction. Late that afternoon I told her via text I had brought her in as an ally and wished she had been a bit more coy about offering so many ways to help it move in the other direction. I felt bad about it and went down to her office later that night to apologize (we both work later than the rest of the building) and we talked it out. I thought everything was fine and we have been talking and hanging out ever since. Regarding me not going along with the crowd, I oftentimes don’t in my life in general. I’ve always been into alternative, counter-culture things. I’m not immune to group think, but I do think I’m less susceptible to it than other people because of that. I suppose being less conforming makes me come across as difficult.

Anyway, when I was upset about Melanie’s behavior in a meeting, I confronted her about it. It sounds like instead of telling me she was upset with my behavior, she told her co-workers that she doesn’t want to be in meetings with me and they all talked about it and decided not to include me (even when asked to by their boss!). I feel foolish and hurt. Do none of them actually like me and they are just being polite and I misread it? I have done a couple thought models on it.

I haven’t decided what to do. I want to confront Melanie but that would only be worth it if I still wanted to be friends. I don’t know if I can trust her and be genuine around her anymore.