To deal with nitpicking in relationships and at work, it takes patience and strength. And if you’re on the receiving end, this behavior can be infuriating. It can even cause lasting damage.
In case you didn’t know, nitpicking means fussing or being overly concerned with minor rules or details. Simply put, it’s fault-finding at a petty level, and sometimes considered a symptom of mental disorders.
But honestly, we all do this at time, just on different levels. But it doesn’t mean we should, and as for those who deal with nitpicky friends, family, or coworkers, it’s difficult to understand how to handle them.
Let’s deal with nitpicking
Dealing with nitpickers takes patience. There are factors that cause people to nitpick things, and by understanding why they do this, we can find ways to face this issue. Let’s take a look.
1. Express your feelings
If your partner is nitpicking, you need to let them know how this makes you feel. However, you should do this in a calm manner, letting them know how their actions affect your emotions. Maybe their nitpicking is making you angry, or perhaps it’s causing anxiety. It’s always best to approach the topic before it gets out of hand.
2. Find out what you did wrong
Maybe you didn’t do anything at all, but you won’t know unless you ask. Just like you approached the subject of your feelings, calmly ask the nitpicker what you did wrong, or if you did anything wrong at all. This makes them pause and think about your question, and they may realize their nitpicking has nothing to do with you. And this could make them stop.
3. Don’t retaliate
I know you want to defend yourself, but when someone is in such a state of criticism, it’s best to let it go. Instead of retaliating, just listen. Even if they’ve done the same thing they’re complaining about, it’s not worth getting into an argument or fight. Not retaliating gives them a moment to vent and recognize your refusal to join the nitpicking.
4. Avoid shouting
Even if they are making you angry, try not to yell or scream at them. This is verbally abusive and only makes things worse. You aren’t weak just because you stay quiet and listen. Sometimes nitpickers want you to yell at them, so you look at bad as they do. This is a toxic characteristic, and it’s actually good to weed it out if it’s there.
5. Take the power
When nitpickers are complaining, they usually just want you to fix what’s making them upset. And they usually want it done quickly. If they’ve been nitpicking for a long time, they’re used to getting their way. Instead, assure them that you will take care of the problem and sort out the details as you can. Then follow this up with,
“Don’t worry about it. I’ve got it under control, and it will get done.”
6. Show your pain
When people nitpick others, it’s hurtful. Sometimes nitpickers don’t even know how hurtful their words can be. This is why you must show them the pain you feel. Bring awareness that they are damaging the relationship by constantly complaining and demanding things. Maybe, when they realize how much pain they’re putting you through, they may back off.
7. Give a compliment
Nitpicking is a product of negative buildup in the mind, whether due to anxiety or momentary stress. To deal with nitpicking, compliment the nitpicker when they are complaining. First, this makes them pause and realize the positivity added to the situation. They might not stop immediately, but if you follow up your compliment with more positive feedback, slowly they will calm down.
Why do people nitpick?
People may nitpick for a number of reasons. The most common reason is due to unresolved anger and other emotions. Sometimes, multiple frustrating situations pile up and build tension. It’s like a balloon that finally pops after over-expanding.
Emotional stress or anxiety will also make people find fault in their partners, friends, or coworkers. These irritations may seem silly to you, but to the nitpicker, these are serious issues. To deal with nitpicking of this sort, it’s best to listen.
If someone suffers from anxiety, nitpicking may be a symptom of stress. In this case, the person may not be piled up with anger or frustration. It’s possible that every little thing just irritates them because they’re experiencing heightened anxiety. This often happens when someone with social anxiety is forced to be around a large group of people. This frustration may later come out as nitpicking every little thing.
A few other reasons why someone may nitpick are low self-esteem, a superiority complex, and even a history of being constantly criticized as a child.
We can deal with nitpicking together
Considering most of us are nitpicky at some time or the other, we must learn to deal with this together. As I said before, nitpicking is common, but it can be dealt with in a healthy way. So, before you lose your temper at someone who’s nitpicking, try to follow the tips above. You may be surprised by how effective they can be.
Good luck and stay positive!
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