December 15, 2008



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: 

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  • Do NOT yell, scream, or call your partner a nut, or OCD, or (fill in the plank), because of their micromanaging.
  • Do NOT ignore the issue of micromanagement if it is impacting your feelings and the relationship.  Don’t roll your eyes and say nothing about it or roll your eyes and just do what your partner is telling you to do…this teaches your partner that his/her micromanagement is okay. Is it okay? (Hint, if you don’t like it and get annoyed or frustrated when you’re partner does it… it’s not okay).

    Now that you know what NOT to do…let’s talk about what you should/can do:

    1. 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.
    2. 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.
    3. 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.”   
    4. 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:
      1.  If you wash the dishes with a greasy sponge and the dishes come out greasy--you rewash them.
      2. If the kids are wound up because you played with them right before bed--you are responsible for putting them to bed… by yourself.
      3. 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. 


    Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.

    My problem is that my partner micro manages me (and my daughter to the point of distraction when she is stressed (and really only when she is stressed or tired). There is a situation where she is very particular, seems really aggressive about it, keeps track of details and steamrolls over me talking quickly when I try to respond or get clarification. (aggressive as in short and clipped and picky no yelling or screaming etc) This also happens at the time when she becomes the most inarticulate and unable to clearly express what she wants, which can be confusing. I find raising the problem or how I feel, after a while when it starts driving me crazy, (particulary that I am feeling bossed, and interfered with, not trusted and it makes me feel anxious and more likely to make mistakes through nervousness) she accuses me of overreacting and being hyper sensitive. In her view it seems that she felt she was perfectly calm and rational and the rest of the family was hypersensitive and emotional. While I am sure I am stressed too and it would come across, it becomes really difficult for both my self and our oldest child to deal with - she shudders at the idea of her mum brushing her hair for instance. I can handle that after stressful days at work she is grouchy (who isn't) but we seem to have no way of letting her know how bad she gets at micromanaging our activities and how we do them (often to the point of snatching things and taking over a job - even when she has not done it before and doesn't know what we are doing. We'd be very happy, and indeed prefer, she go and chill out and have fun while we take on extra jobs but she needs to control it. This only seems to happen when she is tired and stressed, especially after overnight shifts. Normally she is just a delight. I empathize with her stress but it is hard to live with sometimes.

    In an ideal world I would like to be able to just say, chill out it's ok what would you like, get a list of things she's worried about and go and do the relevant domestic tasks, while she was able to relax and do something fun.

    This also only seems to come up around trivial minor domestic tasks. On major issues or emergencies she is 100% great and we work well as a team in a crisis no fuss at all. How do I get her to chill out, back off and relax and let me do my jobs around the home when she is stressed and to stop micromanaging.

    Can you give some advice on if a person wants to be micromanaged? My husband wants me to tell him what to do and I don't want to. He will say things like, 'Just tell me when you want me to do something.' If I don't tell him, he doesn't do anything. And if I do mention something to him, he sometimes forgets and will say, 'I need you to remind me or I forget.' I want him to keep track of what he needs to do himself. What do you suggest?

    DEAR AB: He's not asking you to micromanage, he's asking you to be responsible for him. Don't take it on. Let him know that you will ask him once and if he forgets or doesn't do it, you will not pick up the pieces for him. In my experience the more one partner takes over, the more the other partner gives over.
    Take care-Lisa

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