No one likes a meddler. You know the type — the guy or girl at the office who’s always looking over shoulder, telling you you’re doing XYZ totally wrong. These folks fancy themselves experts on everything, and when they’ve got an opinion, they don’t hold back.
These people can be tough to take, but there are ways to work around them. In a great Daily Muse post titled “5 Effective Ways to Deal With the Office Control Freak,” writer Kat Boogaard shares some excellent advice for coping with their behavior and staying productive in the process.
First, Boogaard says, you should “recognize pure intentions.” Micromanagers aren’t necessarily evil people; in most cases, they’re folks who are intensely dedicated to their jobs. They care a lot, and that’s why they’re all up in your business. According to Boogaard, “recognizing the positive attributes of this person’s work ethic will make working with him or her at least a little bit easier.”
Boogaard’s next suggestion is to “ask questions.” The next time the office control freak tells you to do something a certain way, ask why his or her methods are better than yours. This person “might be a little taken aback by your forwardness,” Boogaard writes, but they’ll be forced to explain their reasoning in the form of a legit conversation. In some cases, if they’re not completely full of hot air, they might even say something useful.
In addition to asking questions, you should stick up for yourself and share your opinions. There’s obviously a reason you do things the way you do — tell the meddler why your way is preferable, and if the person is a colleague at the same level, don’t make it seem like you’re seeking approval. If the individual is a boss, the strategy is slightly different. You want to explain why you’ve adopted certain work methods and make your best case for sticking with them. Managers ultimately have the final say, though, so “you might just have to suck it up and move forward with his or her instructions,” Boogaard writes.
As you push back, Boogaard advises, “avoid arguing” at all costs. Nothing good comes of screaming matches — especially if the other person is your supervisor. When you feel things reaching a boiling point, take a deep breath, go for a walk, and cool off.
If none of these things work, the last resort is to “request mediation.” That’s where you and the other person sit down with a supervisor and make your cases. This leaves it up to the manager to decide who’s right or devise some compromise solution encompassing both of your ideas. However things play out, Boogaard says, you need to accept the decision and move forward. Don’t sulk if you lose or gloat if you win.