In a working environment, it is quite inevitable to cross paths with or be placed in the same work circle as a group of annoying and nitpicking coworkers, dashing out criticisms at the littlest of details and undervaluing your hard work.
This can be quite discouraging, but maintaining peace and focus in a situation like this is a priority, and as such, you may be hesitant or clueless as to how to respond.
However, it is vital that you take certain positive actions that will maintain your esteem and focus, and I am pleased to be sharing a few pointers here.
5 Different Scenarios of Nitpicking Co-workers and How to Properly Respond To These Scenarios
There are different reasons why workers choose to nitpick other people’s work, and it is important to understand these situations and learn how to properly address them.
It all really varies, depending on whom you’re working with and what you believe the motive behind their action is.
Here are five possible scenarios and how to deal with them.
- Working with annoying or unserious coworkers
- Working a new job
- Working with a new group of people
- Working with colleagues You have personal relationships with
- Working with coworkers at a higher level
Dealing with Nitpicking from Annoying Or Unserious Co-workers
In a workplace, it is quite easy to tell which co-workers are lazy and annoying; they are very obvious in most cases.
They’re usually on the same working level as you and are the ones quick to judge your every action, fail to give credit for your work, and instead find a way to always ruin them.
Workers like this exhibit unserious attitudes when they do not pay so much attention to monitoring you even more than the job description they are given.
This behavior of theirs may affect your work in such a manner that they make your progress look like retrogression since they are not always satisfied or constantly find faults in whatever you do.
In a case where they love to make your progress look null by creating situations to come up with faults, you will simply get to figure out that most times, beyond your mistakes, they are nitpickers.
You must understand that this is likely a projection of their insecurities and inability to handle the job with as much discretion as you do.
Once you know this, the default might just be to ignore, which is a wise decision as long as you are strong enough to keep your confidence in check.
But if you are quite disturbed by their actions and feel the need to tell them off, you can do so by being totally straightforward in different ways.
- ‘I understand your concern, but I think you should focus more on your duties.’
- ‘I do not appreciate you interfering with my actions; please keep your opinions to yourself.’
- ‘I have better ways to figure this out other than taking your harsh words, thank you.’
- ‘You should focus more on yourself than finding faults that don’t exist.’
- ‘You may be trying to help, but I’d rather do this myself.’
- ‘Thank you for your observation, but you can keep it to yourself next time.’
If you do not speak against your colleagues who are constantly trying to sabotage your work, they will do so continuously, and it may become an advantage to them.
These people are more likely to back off when you confidently address the situation.
As long as they are in no position to determine your place at work, you can safely use any of the above responses, and they will respectfully give you the confidentiality that you need.
Also, you need to clearly define your relationship with them and learn to manage them so that it doesn’t affect your productivity or relationship at work.
Dealing with Nitpicking Co-Workers When Working A New Job
Compared to the previous situation, the case may actually be different if you find yourself in a new work environment.
Let’s say it’s your first few weeks or months at a new job. You are new and haven’t completely gotten a grasp of how things function in this new space.
While nitpicking can be really frustrating, it is possible that these are things that you are not actually familiar with and really need to pay attention to and learn.
In such a situation, it is important to humbly attend to these details and work better on them, as nitpicking may not necessarily be meant to hurt you or make you feel inferior but to correct your mistakes.
A workplace is not always overly friendly, so you do not expect to be handled with such care all the time. In some cases, you must be as official as possible.
The comments your colleagues might use may be a little too harsh, but it is really important to see it from the perspective of your co-workers trying to really take their job seriously and thus, help you do things more carefully and perfectly.
You should put more thought into these details and work on improving. Here are ways you can respond in such a situation:
- ‘I’m doing my best, but I’ll put in more effort.’
- ‘Thank you for this observation; I’ll work on improvement.’
- ‘It’s hard to be completely efficient; I appreciate your input.’
- ‘Your insight is really helpful; I’ll apply it.’
- ‘Thank you for helping me understand things better. I’ll always keep it in mind.’
- ‘I guess I didn’t have enough information; I’m happy you contributed.’
Since you are in a new environment, these are very polite ways to respond to the situation and actually work on them to prevent them from making further remarks about your work.
You should thank them for letting you know your wrongs and tell them that you will make notable changes in that regard.
Dealing with Nitpicking Workers When Working With A New Group Of People
Let’s say you’ve been transferred from one department to another in the same firm, and you find your new co-workers overanalyzing and criticizing your work without giving it enough credit.
You might want to work on creating a good balance for how to properly respond in such a situation.
Nitpickers in this situation might not exactly have a good reason to over-inspect every detail of your work; they may just be doing so for the simple fact that you are new and have to be obedient, while others may be genuinely interested in putting you through those things.
Some superiors love to practice this because they do not want you to act too lowly and let familiarity step into your relationship with them.
As much as it is important to be able to tell the difference, your response should also carry a good amount of confidence to help others understand that you are open to guidance, just not in a disturbing manner.
You already understand the operations of the company itself, but you may still need to get properly acquainted with the depths of your new department and how it functions.
It is also possible that you have already received enough instruction from a higher authority and do not necessarily need any further guidance.
If it is a situation where the superiors who were in positions of power before you want to manipulate you, you should go all out and search for the rules that workers must abide by.
If possible, carefully check the constitution so that you will not fall prey to nitpickers. Here are a few things you can say:
- “I understand you’re trying to help, but I’d rather listen to the authorities.”
- ‘Thank you for your opinion, although you could have been a little more polite.’
- ‘I don’t mind being corrected, but being monitored so closely is a little disturbing.’
- ‘I’ll definitely seek your help whenever I need to; right now it isn’t necessary.’
- ‘I appreciate your observation, but I’m certain I’m following the right instructions.’
- ‘Thank you for being concerned, but I’m sure the authorities will relay any important information.’
Do not hesitate to make these people understand that you know what you are doing and that you are also open to being corrected, but rather in a polite way.
It is very uneasy to be under close scrutiny by people you work with, but it is your duty to always make them understand that you do not appreciate anything that doesn’t come forward positively, and they will obey.
If they continue to give you a hard time working with them, you can always relate the situation to a higher authority, but only on the grounds that you’ve actually been doing the right things, so you won’t fall into the wrong.
Ensure to take cognizance of critical information and instructions so that you won’t do what you ought not to as a result of not being attentive to details or making assumptions.
Dealing with Nitpicking Colleagues You Have Personal Relationships With
If colleagues that you are friends with nitpick, then you should look closely at what they are trying to say.
This is because you have a personal relationship with them, and they may not simply want to nitpick about you for no valid reason.
So, you should look closely to ensure that you do not make the relationship you have with them suffer because of the mistakes they point out to you that you need to work on.
However, you shouldn’t fail to defend yourself if they are making assumptions that are wrong. Here are a few responses to nitpickers who are your colleagues with whom you have a personal relationship:
- ‘Thank you for sharing your thoughts, but do you think I am that lackadaisical?’
- ‘Did you have this perception about me all this time?’
- ‘Thank you for telling me, but I feel you should have known me better by now.’
When you say this to them, you shouldn’t forget the relationship you had before them and speak or act like you have never had relations with them.
Dealing with Nit-Picking When Working With Co-workers At A Higher Level
Experiencing nitpicking from a high-level worker is a tough task, especially if they do it so often.
However, it is possible to relate to them in such a way that you don’t get into issues that will tarnish your work. In responding to a co-worker of a higher level who nitpicks on you, you can say:
- ‘I understand you clearly, and I will work not to make the same mistakes, but can you be a little lenient with me?’
- ‘Thank you for showing me the correct way, even though I choose not to be offended by your approach.’
In any way you choose to respond to a co-worker of a higher level, ensure that you do not step out of your boundary or speak in an unclear manner that will leave room for assumptions because if you do, your higher-level co-worker can have a better case when they accuse you.
Nitpicking can be at different levels, but in whatever case, you must ensure that your perception is high and stay far away from assumptions until you have evidence before you act.
Your colleagues, superiors, or even people below you in your work environment can throw questions at you, pointing out every mistake you make at work.
Someone who is so obsessed with perfection may always look out for corrections in your work, and in most cases, they will find one or more.
The nitpick on you may not necessarily be against you; someone may simply be doing that out of a clear conscience, even though it can be stressful for you.
You need to understand why someone always points out your mistakes to you, whether they do so to annoy, undervalue, or correct you, and respond accordingly.
Did you get a new perspective from this article?