How to Deal with a Micromanager

3 min
Article preview picture

Being micromanaged at work can be soul-destroying. At best, it’s annoying to have someone breathing down your neck as if you can’t be trusted to do the job you’ve been hired to do. But micromanagement can also impact your opportunity to grow and flourish professionally. Even the most well-meaning managers might not realize they are holding you back from your potential, negatively affecting your mental health and, well, getting on your dang nerves. 

Micromanagement doesn’t only exist in the workplace, though: there are other instances where it can occur in life – from helicopter parents to codependent partners or meddling friends, there are some people in our lives that always seem to be trying to thrust their help upon us – whether you want them to or not. It can be incredibly frustrating, demotivating, and bash your self-confidence, not to mention flare up tempers. 

So how can it be dealt with without sparking friction? How can we free ourselves from the suffocation of other people’s overbearing behavior?

Accept That It's Not About You

Firstly, take the stance that this situation is not a reflection of your skills or capabilities. It’s not about you at all. A micromanager has their own issues around trust and control, and they are likely projecting a fear of failure onto you. Once we’re able to look at their attitude objectively, rather than personally, we can take down the defenses and approach the issue with a clearer head and a secure sense of self-worth

Build Trust

Next, think about what they could be afraid of. How can you reassure your micromanager that you’re on the same team, that you understand their concerns, and that you have their back? How could you pre-empt their interference in a way that brings things back onto your terms: could pinging them a quick, friendly, bullet point update on progress do that? Trying a different approach to communication that responds to your micromanager’s fears might just lead to more understanding and begin to build trust.

Create Boundaries Around Your Time

Tell your micromanager that the constant catch-ups or check-ins are affecting your ability to focus. Request a new approach, such as weekly meetings to go over everything in detail in one assigned time slot, or a quick 15-minute morning check-in at a set time each day, for example. Establishing boundaries around your time is important with overbearing parents and other micromanaging relationships in your life as well. Normalize not responding to messages or picking up the phone between certain hours of the day (or night), and create a routine around when you see those people month to month.

Manage Up

Upward management is a skill that will be hugely beneficial as you move up the ranks, so see this as an opportunity to hone it. You can be a leader and motivator of people from any role within an organization, and you’ll get noticed for it. Managing up is about identifying opportunities to support your boss, particularly in their weaker areas. For micromanagers that are reluctant to delegate, insist upon taking certain tasks by assuring them that their time is far too important to be dealing with such matters. Tell them you would love the opportunity to take on more responsibility, and will really appreciate their feedback once they’ve given you the chance to try. You can use similar tactics on friends and partners, too. 

Keep Your Chin Up

Establishing a secure sense of self-worth is your best defense against people that behave as if they don’t believe in you. Believe in yourself and back yourself, even if it means having to “manage” other people’s insecurities to protect your own well-being. You deserve to have your time and autonomy respected, and you have the right to healthy boundaries. You also need the space to make mistakes in both your work and your personal life, because that’s how you learn and grow. If you can become a beacon of positivity, confidence, and resourcefulness, however quietly you need to, then no overbearing micromanager will ever hold you back from your work or life goals in the long run. 


All of the content on our website is thoroughly researched to ensure that the information shared is evidence-based. For more information, please visit the academic journals and other resources that influenced this article: Managing Bosses and Peers; Understanding Individual Resilience in the Workplace; A Study of Upward Influence in Organizations.

Share this story
Read more
  • Article preview
    25 Feb 2022

    Is Your Boss Gaslighting You?

    6 min

    Have you ever questioned yourself with thoughts of, “Am I good enough?” or “Maybe I am not suitable for this job” after interacting with your boss? Or do you constantly doubt yourself, always feeling confused because your boss seems to be showering you with compliments one day, while totally berating you for even the smallest thing on the next? 

    Read full article
  • Article preview
    22 Mar 2022

    People-Pleasing: What It Is, and How To Stop It

    9 min

    Imagine if you lived a life where you were as nice and kind to yourself as you were to everyone else around you. Would your life look more or less the same, or vastly different? If it’s the latter, it may be time to look at how much importance you give to your own happiness versus that of others一and if that is often significantly less, to ask yourself if you’re a people-pleaser.

    Read full article
  • Article preview
    18 Mar 2022

    How To Set Healthy Boundaries - And Stick To Them

    4 min

    You may think you have good, healthy boundaries. Yet for most people, when asked what exactly their boundaries are, they have a hard time defining them clearly. Setting and upholding healthy boundaries is an important part of our self-care. Boundaries are designed to protect our physical and emotional well-being, and are determined by what behaviors we find acceptable or not to allow in our lives. 

    Read full article
  • Article preview
    30 Mar 2022

    5 Tips for Dealing with Anxiety

    5 min

    Anxiety can feel like someone is controlling your body without your permission. Unlike nervousness, anxiety doesn’t usually go away easily, even after a stressful situation has ended. It tends to persist and, as a result, can affect daily life in many ways. Anxiety can make people feel like there is no way out, and it may create worrying feelings that you cannot control, even making you feel like you are starting to lose control of your life. This can be extremely harmful to our mental health, and leaving these feelings untreated can make people feel frustrated, stressed, and emotionally drained. 

    Read full article
  • Article preview
    25 Feb 2022

    The Psychology of Collectivist vs Individualistic Cultures

    5 min

    Culture influences how we think, behave, and interact with others in everyday life. In cross-cultural psychology, psychologists often conduct research examining one of the core dimensions of cultural variability: collectivism and individualism. 

    Read full article