Cami - that's enlightening . I will find a chance to talk with her privately the next time I'm there . I don't think she's a bad person and I don't dislike her . We get along famously when there are no problems to be found . I have noticed that she uses the words " Blame " and " Fault " frequently in her conversations . It doesn't matter whether she's talking about problems I have found or her workplace in general .
In truth , I feel sorry for her . She seems to be deathly afraid of losing her postition as a manager .
She also has the unfortunate habit of telling you what she thinks you want to hear , or making up stuff as she goes along .
I would absolutely sit down with her in a confidential setting and offer:
1) reassurance, that the company doesn't capriciously can people
2) reassurance, that *I* am not looking to make people look bad, and that I am on the side of "everything going well," and to help spot problems before they get difficult for her to cope with
3) praise, if I had any
4) the observation that when she gets defensive, it wastes a ton of energy and time
5) the observation that saying, "I don't know" or "I have absolutely no idea--ask this guy in the other department, because he DOES know" or "I need time to answer that accurately" are all of them far more powerful than throwing out any sort of answer and being found wrong.
I'd bring up specific examples, and tell her what I'd rather have gotten from her in terms of a reaction. I'd give her the script.
And then I'd coach her through each interaction for a while.
I might also try to find things to call or email her about that are neutral, or good. I wouldn't waste a ton of energy, but I'd grab any opportunities that arose.
I would also change how I approach her. I'd say, "I need your help." And I'd make my tone of voice back me up.