A case for not nitpicking

This blog is about nitpicking. It provides a place for all of us to write about and comment on the problems we see with all forms of communication in the workplace. From our most hated grammar faux pas to annoying behaviors that make us grit our teeth, this forum offers us a place to nitpick.

But for once, I want to build a case for not nitpicking.

The last few weeks have been one crazy ride for me. I won’t bore you with the details so to make it short and sweet, here is what I’ve been dealing with:

  • An earthquake that caused damage to the foundation of my home. Two days later …
  • A last-minute trip to Michigan to visit an ill relative, while Tropical Storm Irene wreaked havoc on the east coast. Three days later …
  • Another unexpected trip to Connecticut to help loved ones recover after the storm. Two days later …
  • A deluge of rain that resulted in massive flooding. The rain, coupled with the foundation damage led to a serious flood in our finished basement. We discovered over two inches of rain down there just two days before relatives from all over were planning to arrive for my daughter’s birthday.

Despite the weather and my own personal hell, business had to go on as usual. I’ve spent the last three weeks battling to manage my personal misfortunes while doing my job well.

That brings me back to my original point: Nitpicking always doesn’t have a place in the real world.

If I had insisted on nitpicking how my team was completing their work or had chosen to micromanage them at every step, I wouldn’t have had time to focus on my most important assignments. Letting go and trusting in the amazing group of people who work for me was critical to managing the chaos.

If my employees had nitpicked how I delegated, provided instructions—or even talked—over that time, they could have picked me apart, making things much more difficult. Some of them were affected by the weather as well, but those that weren’t were supportive. Rather than complain or point fingers everyone pulled together, overlooked one another’s missteps and completed her work.

If my boss had chosen to nitpick, I don’t think I could have managed … period. During that time, I worked from my car and at odd hours. I had to make last-minute requests and alter my communication methods. If he had nitpicked about how and when I worked or expected detailed reports or frequent updates, I wouldn’t have been able to do it all. But because he gave his support and trusted me to get the work done in my own way, I met some major deadlines, covered my workload and managed my personal responsibilities.

I can’t thank all of those people enough for opting not to be nitpickers when I needed it most. Like everything, nitpicking has its place. This blog is perfect for it. But when people are struggling, stow away your urge to do so.

Do you remember a time when someone nitpicked you during a troublesome time? Perhaps someone corrected your English when you were emotional or griped about a report you created for an unrealistic deadline. Share your experiences with us in the comment section.

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