My boss seems to have extremely strong beliefs regarding small things.

Imagine you have a 30 minute urgent conversation because you "replied all" and didn't limit the big (=8) number of people in cc. Of course next time you will get criticized that you excluded somebody.

Or you put 2020 in an email, instead of 2021 - where it was clear from the context that the current year was meant.

It's this type of thing: a lot of them. It's always an urgent conversation, because I did something wrong.

The thing is: I was employed as a senior expert! I'm new at the company, but have contributed already. I'm really not sure how to react to her constant remarks about things that are so insignificant, but they are keeping me from other work. I am accurate, compared to others even more accurate - that's the feedback I've been receiving, but I'm just a human and I also make mistakes.

How to react to her constant lecturing on small things, which frequently don't even make logical sense?

  • 1
    You might want to mellow out. The mistakes you list are those I make when I am stressed. Also, the acceptance of different types of mistakes depend on the size and style of the company. If you had cc'ed everyone in the company at a large company, that is a larger mistake than a 5 person company. So, how big is this company? – David R Feb 22 at 22:04
  • @DavidR, it's a 5k+ company. I received an email with 8 team members in cc. I "replied all", instead of "replied" - also because some of them signaled their interest in the topic before. She herself pinged me to inquire about that, so I left her in cc when replying, for which I was heavily criticised. People putting 10 people in cc although they just need one specific person to answer is extremely typical here. – user8429 Feb 22 at 22:07
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    Maybe talk to her about it? Tell her that sometimes she tends to overreact over small mistakes that happen when you're too busy with urgent matters, and it tends to make you way more stressed than you already are, when you should be focusing on more important stuff. And if she disagrees or does nothing to improve, maybe try to find another job. If you don't wanna risk your job and talk to her, just bear with it. Accept that's she's a micromanaging person and you can do nothing about it. Just work normally and if she complains about something say sorry and move on. Don't let her ruin your day. – Doliprane Feb 22 at 22:21
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    I had a boss like that once. My predecessor quit on her first day. She went to lunch and never came back. In hindsight, I wish I had done the same as her. Some people just can't delegate and have to micro-manage every little thing. And that's fine to a degree, but if that person starts contradicting their own instructions while continuing to micro-manage you, then it's a sign that you should find a new job and get the hell out of there (and not even include this current short stint on your resume). – Stephan Branczyk Feb 23 at 20:15
  • Always assume good intent from others. You are new to the company, so there might be someone in the role before you that had issues here and she is trying to curb this early for you. Take it as good criticism, not a personal attack. – TheCleaner Feb 24 at 18:23

Both you and your boss need to calm down. I sense hurt pride in your telling of events, and it seems the boss puts a lot more value on correction of those small mistakes than you do.

Your boss is right to tell you about things you could do better. CC lists in mails can be a hot topic. Not including someone who should be in the loop causes harm, informing someone who should not receive that information does also harm.

That said, a 30 minutes lecture about it is over the top and wastes resources. Focus on convincing your boss that you understood the mistake and will do better in the future. Deflecting and saying "aah, thats minor!" will just trigger your lead more.

If the corrections do not make sense to you, improve communication. Don't assume that your boss is wrong, ask questions and try to understand his point. Being new in the company can play a part here. You don't know the core values of the company, yet. Maybe there were complications in the past because of those small mistakes. Maybe your boss just puts a lot of thought in such things out of personal preference.

Of course there are the micro-Managers. There are many more questions to that on the network. Most of the time micro-management has to do with lacking trust. If your boss does not trust you, he may feel that he needs to micromanage you. In that case, your highest priority should be to build trust and improve communication. And small recurring mistakes are not ideal to build trust on.

  • Unfortunately there's no win in this type of situation because if your boss continues to micromanage, even after you got clarification and understood his position, then it's probably best to quit or put up with it knowing that no matter what you send, it's going to get criticized for something. But based on the OP the complaints don't sound unreasonable and real concerns albeit a bit drawn out discussion for such a small thing. – Dan Feb 24 at 17:30
  • This answer hits the mark, it's too soon to know if they will continue micromanaging or if this is just the learning curve to building trust between you and your boss. – JoeCo Feb 24 at 17:41

I do agree that mistaking 2020 vs 2021, even when it is understood as current year, might be worth criticizing you over.

My thought based on your message is that your boss is telling you to slow down and don't just go pumping out emails without first looking it over.

I would simply take a deep breath. Read the email once, then put it away, then read it again and type your response. Give it a look over to see if you got everyone, no typos, correct dates, etc then save it as a draft. Step back for a second, maybe do something else real quick. Then go back and read it again. See if you got everything, read it backwards to see if you catch anything you didn't. Then hit send if all is well.

Try to read between the lines of what your boss is saying. He's coitizing you over small details because you're missing them. He's trying to tell you to slow down and read over the email and don't just hit send.


Also, bear in mind that "you have your role, and your boss has hers." Part of your role is "to support her in her role."

If she gives feedback to you, which you now call "criticism," instead consider it to be "guidance." Take that guidance and strive to do it ... without question. "Professionally." If she took the time to point it out to you, "it matters to her." Howcum? Doesn't matter.

"On your boat, we'll do it your way."


The thing is: I was employed as a senior expert!

Both "senior" and "expert"!! Wow! I never saw these words used together, this is a first.

Anyway, in a professional / corporate environment, communication is bound to certain rules. While the list of rules is not written in stone, and it may vary from company to company, they are usually the same: send the message only to the interested / relevant people, make it clear who is the recipient of the mail (the "to:" list), which are the people which are only informed (the "bcc:" list), do not forget important people from the message, keep confidential information confidential, etc.

It's this type of thing: a lot of them.

Well, a "senior expert" doing a lot of communication mistakes, is not very professional, and not very pleasant for anyone. You described yourself several mistakes you are "guilty" of:

  1. "replied all" and didn't limit the big (=8) number of people in cc

  2. next time ... excluded somebody

  3. put 2020 in an email, instead of 2021

Even though apparently small, these mistakes add up.

things that are so insignificant

One thing / mistake which is insignificant remains insignificant. Even a few of them, remain insignificant. But when they become "a lot of them", things change. To understand better what I mean, read about the 1000 cuts torture and the water drop torture. One small cut is not much (I accidentally cut the skin of my fingers often, while working in the kitchen), and a water drop is nothing. But when there are "a lot of them", things become different. From the water torture page:

"The creepiest thing that happened after we did this episode was that I got an email from someone from a throw away account. He said, 'We found that randomizing when the drops occurred was incredibly effective. That anything that happens on a regular periodicity can become a type of meditation, and you can then tune it out. If you couldn't predict it, he-said, 'We found, we were able to induce a psychotic break within 20 hours.'"

And that is exactly where you are: you are always original with the mistakes.

I am accurate, compared to others even more accurate

Well, you might be more accurate than others, but the others are (most likely) not "senior experts". The expectations are different. One cannot expect from a fresh graduate the same level of quality, compared to a "senior expert".

How to react to her constant lecturing on small things, which frequently don't even make logical sense?

  1. Be more careful, and make less mistakes - ideally, no mistakes at all.
  2. If the "lectures" do not make sense, then ask your manager to be more explicit. The best would be if the manager could provide you with examples. If the manager does not provide examples by her own initiative, do not be afraid to ask. Next, be sure to act on the explanations and on the examples, and stop doing avoidable mistakes.
  3. Before sending the message, re-read it - once, twice, as many times as needed. Hunt for small mistakes. Hunt for big mistakes. Hunt sentences which can have more than one meaning and correct them. Avoid ambiguous words (maybe, sometimes, eventually...). If there is a colleague you can trust, ask your colleague to read your message before sending, hunting for mistakes.
  4. Make sure that the message does not sound aggressive, offensive or angry. If it does, re-write it. If it still sounds aggressive, re-write it again. If you cannot write it without triggering a conflict, delete it and do not send it. Find another way of communication.

Example from my own life

As a matter of fact, that is exactly what I did about 1 year ago. Something unexpected happened. I walked around the building for about 30 min to calm down as much as possible. I wrote an e-mail as a reaction. It was too aggressive, so I deleted it and wrote another one. It was still aggressive. I deleted it and stopped writing. I called the colleague - and because we could not find an agreement over the phone, we decided to postpone the discussion. We found a way around the problem. After several months when we could meet face to face, we re-opened the discussion face-to-face and clarified all the details. No reply-to-all, no forget-a-recipient - actually, no proof of any discussion at all. And the problem was solved too.

  • Your reply doesn't have much to do with my situation. – user8429 Feb 24 at 13:08
  • @user8469: I thought that the last section of my answer is dedicated to the situation you described (which might be different from your real situation). Please explain better your situation, and I will do my best to update my answer. – virolino Feb 24 at 13:14

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