MICROMANAGEMENT PART III: WHAT TO DO (and not to do) WHEN SOMEONE IN YOUR RELATIONSHIP IS TRYING TO MICROMANAGE YOU
The previous two posts were all about those who micromanage and how to stop. Let’s take a look at what those on the receiving end of micromanagement can do…just in case their partner’s don’t stopJ.
Let me start by telling what NOT to do:
- Do NOT call your partner names when s/he is trying to tell you what to do. (If your partner is female, I especially recommend that you steer clear of any word that ends in “itch”--no matter how much she is micromanaging). Name calling is unlikely to reduce the micromanagement and highly likely to escalate some angry heat.
- Do NOT throw, slam, or pound any objects out of frustration and say anything remotely like, “You don’t like the way I’m washing the dishes?! Fine, wash your own damn dishes!!!” This is highly unlikely to emit feelings of warmth between you and your partner.
- Do NOT say you will do things just like your partner asks when you know darn well that you have no intention of doing it his/her way. That’s called being passive-aggressive. It’s better to say nothing or no, then it is to lie. Lying does not induce warm feelings either.
Now that you know what NOT to do…let’s talk about what you should/can do:
- Whenever your partner is telling you how to do something, you first need to decide if that’s okay for you. If it’s not, then tell your partner that you would be happy to (fill in the blank) to the best of your ability however, s/he needs to let you do it your way. Do not say this in a huffy, irritated way. Speak it clean, which means respectfully, calm, and without contempt.
- If your partner leaves you a list of twenty things for you to do, be clear up front, which ones you will do and which ones you will not get to. Negotiate who does what rather than assuming that if the list is handed to you, you have to complete it.
- Ask your partner to let you do things your way and if it doesn’t work out, you will accept full responsibility and clean up any mess that may be caused. For example, “Honey, I appreciate that you want me to pack the diaper bag with three diapers, two bottles, a change of clothes etc., and I don’t want to carry all that. If I’m out with the baby and run out of diapers I promise I’ll stop at the store and won’t make her sit in dirty diapers for more than 20 minutes.”
- If your partner keeps telling you what to do and that it’s not okay for you to not listen, clearly state, “I’ve heard you and it’s not okay for you to tell me what to do and how to do it. Unless you’re willing to stop telling me what I need to do, I need to end this conversation.” Note: Remember, you must make sure that you are willing to take full responsibility if any of her/his fears happen. For example:
- If you wash the dishes with a greasy sponge and the dishes come out greasy--you rewash them.
- If the kids are wound up because you played with them right before bed--you are responsible for putting them to bed… by yourself.
- If you didn’t wax the car as your partner told you to and it came out with streaks--you need to wax it or get it waxed properly.
The bottom line is if you want the respect of being treated like a mature adult who is capable of making his/her own decisions about how things get done… you need to act like a responsible adult.
Often people who micromanage, do so to feel less anxious. Don’t take it personally AND… do set limits on it. This is just your partner’s edge that s/he will need to work on. Be respectful, set limits with love, and be responsible for your part when that’s appropriate.
CHALLENGE: If your partner micromanages you, choose two areas that really bother you and commit to setting limits on your partner in these areas first. Be respectful and set limits with a quiet, firm strength.