Coping with a Micro-Managing, Nit-Picky, or Critical Boss

Coping With Difficult Bosses

No one wants to be criticized. When you try your best at a job and try to keep a good attitude it’s really hard to remain motivated if you are consistently criticized. If you have a boss that micro-manages your work or nit-picks, remember that their criticisms are in no way about you, it’s about them.

In his book, Coping with Difficult People, Robert M. Bramson says, “Bosses have power… Knowing this and fearing the worst, most of us hold off on coping with bosses until we can’t stand it any more. At that point [there are so many] pent up emotions that what was intended as coping slides into [anger, resentment], quitting, or copping out.”

He continues, “A better approach is to start coping as soon as possible, but with reasonable caution.”

Bramson explains, “there is a difference between a person who is purposely trying to hurt you and one who does it unthinkingly. When others’ intentions are benevolent, you have some leverage. You can point out that their actions have had results they didn’t intend.”

If you feel you are being nagged, or nit-picked, suggest having weekly meetings with at least one parent without the children present when problems can be discussed. You can explain that it’s difficult to hear criticism at the end of a long, hard, work day and it’s embarrassing to be reprimanded in front of the kids.

Anne Merchant Geissler, author of The Child Care Textbook, explains that a weekly meeting is an opportunity to talk to one another about the children or any issues that come up about the job when everyone is rested and thought more carefully how to phrase their concerns. Although most meetings will be simple and brief, nannies and parents can bring up any issues during that time each week.

During these meetings nannies and parents will get to know and like each other better because they have both taken the time to communicate, without criticism from anger, exhaustion, or frustration. This is a relationship maintenance practice which ensures that both parties value their relationship.

Finally, you can’t control what an employer will say to you, but you can control yourself. Remaining calm and respectful is always important. All you can do is make sure that you are doing your best work and suggest having a weekly meeting as the time to discuss issues about the job.


  1. I’ve been doing nanny work for 26 years and have worked for many families. My experience with my two most critical bosses: The first one flat out told me she didn’t have time to have a monthly meeting, even though she didn’t have a job or anything else to do, for that matter. I requested meetings not to deal with the critisism, but just to get on the same page with a few things. The boss that I have now, well I’m not going to request any kind of meeting there. These types of people do not want to talk about things, they only want to continue with their disfunctional ways. Bless their hearts! I’ve learned from these experiences to not take things personally and to return only kindness to them. They need love! What a great learning experience they’ve given me. If it gets too bad, I’ll quit, there’s plenty of work out there for nannies where I live.

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