Continuing with the Control Freak – Naggers, Micromanagers, and the Rest of Us

For those of you reading daily, thank you for allowing me a brief respite from the topic of the control freak. Today we’re back to look at the other aspect of the control freak, the obsessive need to exert control over others. These are the nagging spouses/parents and micromanagers that we may have to deal with as we try to get through the day. Often well intentioned (initially), these types can quickly get on your nerves and degenerate to howling beasts if you ignore them long enough. The trick, as you will learn today, is to defuse them without rewarding the behavior. Remember, knowledge is your greatest weapon when it comes to control.

Let’s do a quick profile of each (I’ll go about compiling a more concise profile of each in future posts). The nagging spouse/parent won’t give you a moment’s rest until you’ve accomplished the task list they have for you. Beware though, the list, while initially short, comes with additions that you’re generally not aware of. If you lack schooling in the subtle arts of mindreading you’re in for a whole world of trouble. With the nagger it’s not enough to finish the list, you’re expected to go beyond the list and accomplish other tasks. However, don’t you dare complete the wrong unknown task as this will bring about the other aspect every nagger has, the “You always do this” accusation. The arsenal of the nagger will often contain threats, a whole assortment of accusations, passive aggressive comments, and overly dramatic displays of them doing the work instead of you.

The micromanager is what I like to think of as a nagger on steroids and backed by a corporate entity. The micromanager operates much like a helicopter and will often hover around the employee that needs the most attention. The attention is often unwarranted and stems from the micromanager’s perceptions of the employee and can be amplified by the importance of the task at hand. The employee can expect to be critiqued on everything from grammar and punctuation to tone and color of a spreadsheet (yes, this has happened to me before). The victim of the micromanager will often find their computers taken over and the task completed for them after depleting the boss’s already critically low reserves of patience.

How do we deal with these types? The following are a couple of my ideas and are by no means a complete list. I’ll even provide a grading as to weather these will work on one, the other, or both. Also, I understand that these are generalizations, I’m not trying to write a book here. That’ll come later. 😊

Get away to a safe space

Micromanager – Yes       Nagger – No

There are times when retreating to a safe space may be the only relief you get from the micromanager. Find a conference room, closet, bathroom stall, or, if you can get away with leaving, a coffee shop. Distance will afford you the space to work at your own pace to complete the project or email that is needed. Keep in mind, however, that upon your return you may face accusations of disappearance.

Do not attempt this with the nagging spouse/parent. If you leave without resolving the cause of the nagging it can lead to resentment and anger in the home. This can ultimately make your life unbearable.

Distraction and Redirection

Micromanager – Yes       Nagger – Yes

There’s always bigger fish to fry, at least in the work place. If you find yourself penned in by the micromanager this is where your knowledge can benefit you. Make it a point to know your boss’s likes, dislikes, sports teams, hobbies, and many of the small details of his/her life. You can use these to great effect to distract a micromanager, especially if they are in a decent mood to begin with.

If you’re under the stern and unhappy eye of a riled-up micromanager it may be best to redirect their tendencies away from you. Know what other issues are happening in your department and find a way of letting the boss know that his/her incomparable guidance is needed there. This of course means tossing a colleague under the rotors of the hover-boss, but hey, it’s either you or them, right?

Can distraction and redirection work on the nagging spouse or parent? You bet it can, and in a big way! The nagger often feels under-appreciated, after all, if you appreciated him/her then you’d listen and do what they say. Throw in a compliment and let the nagger know how much they mean to you. This can go a long way in softening their nagging in the short term which can give you a chance to complete the task.

We’ll finish up today’s post with a few things you should never do when faced with a nagging spouse/parent or a micromanager.


Never argue with these types! When a loved one is nagging you, or the boss is micromanaging they’re already in an adrenaline-fueled state. The argument will be viewed as a challenge to their authority and can quickly get out of hand. It’s best to step back, reassess the current situation, and determine a peaceful way out of it.

Never accept treatment of this type. You’re a valuable person and you deserve to be treated as such. Nagging harms relationships and micromanaging damages morale. Find a way to let the offender know that what they are doing is hurtful and needs to stop.

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