Hate being micromanaged or nagged?
Nagging is a chore. Having to repeat the same thing over and over is exhausting. I can’t imagine choosing to nag or micromanage for the hell of it. So, why does it happen? I’m sure I’ll get push back on this, but I’m going to step out on a limb and say that many people who are accused of nagging or micromanaging are forced into that scenario because of someone else’s failure to communicate.
Nagging is making the same request over and over and over
Micromanaging is slightly different than nagging. Nagging is making the same request over and over and over. It begins because something hasn’t been done. Micromanaging is making sure things get done in a specific way. Have you felt nagged when reminded about a task you wanted to avoid? On the other hand, you could have interpreted being asked if you completed a specific action on time as micromanaging. Because they’re each a little bit different, we’ll start with nagging.
The amount of time I spend making the same request over and over and over is significant. Nagging takes up a considerable part of every single day. Do I enjoy it? Hell no. Do I have better things to do? Of course. I hate wasting time. So if you feel nagged or micromanaged, I’d say you should take a look in the mirror before you argue. All of it really could be a result of your own inaction or unresponsiveness.
Nagging isn’t a good use of time
Historically, I’ve found that the same people who complain about receiving more than one request for the same information are typically the same people who ignore the first request (and the 2nd). Based on a trail of unanswered emails, their track records demonstrate the need for multiple requests. They consistently miss deadlines for providing time sensitive information that is important for others to receive. (Are your ears ringing?) The other interesting commonality is that they rarely apologize for the inconvenience their failure to respond has caused.
Perception is everything. I think we can all agree that nagging isn’t a good use of time. So, to gain clarity, I reviewed the language I typically use when making a request. Apparently there are different interpretations of what particular words mean. I looked up the definitions to the words I use most frequently to ensure they reflect my exact intentions. The following are terms I use when requesting specific information and actions:
- Please Reply: to say something in response to something someone has said.
- Please Confirm: to acknowledge with definite assurance.
- At: used for stating the exact time when something happens.
- Prior to: before a particular time or event.
- By: before or until; not later than a particular time or date.
- Before: earlier than a particular time, event, or action.
Not providing a response only prompts the sender to ask again
Reminders are sent to elicit responses from people who interpret “prior to, by or before” the same as “at”. Nagging is required when people offer no response when asked to “please reply” or “please confirm”. Getting no response only prompts the sender to ask again.
Businesses can’t operate when they can’t expect to get paid. They can’t pay their people or keep the lights on. They can’t take on new business if they don’t know when their schedules will allow it. If time is blocked and someone doesn’t show, it’s lost income. Projects can’t move forward or stay on budget without accurate and timely information from stakeholders.
Using a calendar and managing your commitments better could be a real win
Consequently, there are penalties imposed for late payments, charges incurred for missed appointments, and fees for change orders. There are also consequences to submitting materials after a deadline has missed. Using a calendar and managing your commitments better could be a real win for everyone. You can lower your expenses, projects can move ahead on schedule and everyone gets to carry on in peace.
For those of you, who bristle at redundant reminders when you’ve already responded, thank you for responding on time and as requested. Please feel free to ignore/delete all subsequent requests for the same thing. You can ensure you’re not deleting emails in error by first identifying the sender as a trusted source. Then screen the subject line to determine if the content still relates to you. If you’ve already responded, then delete. It might take five seconds. If you are unsure, remember to always keep a copy of critical correspondence. If you discover you really hadn’t responded, well then…
Sometimes the stakes are too high to wait and see
In addition to nagging, micromanaging is often a forced result of someone’s inaction. Everyone suffers when missing information holds up progress. Opportunities are lost when someone doesn’t take action on time. If someone has a history of not following instructions, there’s a constant need to check in with a “didja?” (i.e.: “Did you do xx at xx time?”). For anyone with skin in the game it becomes a necessity. It’s important to get buy in and agree on the approach to any project. But when one person ignores the plan or drops the ball, they both lose. Sometimes the stakes are too high to wait and see. The results can be irreversible. E.g.: if your accountant doesn’t let you know if they have filed your taxes or not, it can cause big problems. Speaking from experience, I’ve learned to ask for a confirmation when there is a looming deadline.
If you’re opposed to micromanaging or nagging, then think again before you object. Consider:
- How will your overdue response affect other people?
- What are the consequences if you fail to respond all together?
- Is there money on the line if something is in error or arrives late?
- Is it really unreasonable for someone to check in when others stand to lose?
- Is the problem really with the sender or could you have stopped the nonsense sooner by simply answering the request as accurately as possible?
Nagging and micromanaging are unpleasant for all concerned. They typically are a result of poor communication, which leads to unnecessary conflicts. The only sure fire remedy to combat a nagger or a micromanager is to respond as requested so that you can go on about your business and other people have what they need. The way to avoid nagging or micromanaging and gain full autonomy requires all parties’ complete cooperation and clear communication. Try it. You’ll see.
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