Anal beyond the call of duty

Normally when I start talking about anything anal, I start with pineapples. But in this case, I’m just going to have a normal rant about my overly anal co-worker, because if you thought I was anal, you’ve not met a truly anal person.

I’m starting to dread it every time she opens her mouth because my mind is wanting to shut up shop before she even gets started. I’ve always made it a point to give people a voice and the chance to give their opinions before taking their ideas on board or dismissing them, but with her, I’m not even wanting to listen. It’s not good and I don’t know how to deal with it.

I think there is a definite distinction between being thorough and careful – which is good and perfectly okay – and painfully over-thorough – which is annoying and unnecessary. She’s very much in the latter camp and is trying to bring me over to her dark side, but her method of doing so is what rubs me up the wrong way the most.

She obviously has an idea about what is the ‘right’ (a.k.a her way) and it is generally over-thorough and erring on the side of doing waaay too much. With her ‘right’ way firmly in mind, she will ask me, “Do you want me to do it this (my) way?” To which I will say, “No, I’m happy with how it’s being done now.” Then she will say, “But you need to do it this way!” To which I will say, “I don’t think it’s necessary to do it that way, because we have a, b & c backups and there is a very small chance of anything going wrong with it”. To which she will say, “Yes, but there is a chance that something will go wrong, so you have to prepare perfectly for it just in case!” And I will sense her wanting me to join her on the dark side, so I will say, “I don’t think it’s necessary to do what you’re suggesting, but if you feel uncomfortable doing it the current way, you’re welcome to do it your way.” And then she will give me the classic line of, “But tell me how you want it done!”

To which I want to say, “FFS woman, I told you at the beginning. You asked my opinion and I gave it to you. If you don’t like it, then don’t ask for it!!!!!”

But I don’t. Instead I generally have to end the conversation very quickly and walk away because I feel a very strong urge to slap the crap out of her.

Rinse and repeat several times a day. She has also basically told me to stop helping her because she doesn’t like ‘the way’ I do things and she wants to be more ‘systematic’. Yet she’ll complain about having too much to do. I’m not sure if I should feel offended or happy that apparently I’m not nearly as anal as I thought I was.

I’m not and have never been a very assertive person. In an ideal world, it would probably be best for me to be able to say to her, ‘Please do it THIS way.’ (although I’m not sure that would be enough because I’d probably have the same conversation with her the next day, as a new day is a new opportunity to bring me around to the dark side.) I probably also feel the urge to slap the crap out of her because I feel like she is basically telling me I’m wrong and I hate to be wrong (which is not a good thing, I know, but who realistically likes being wrong??)

I’m not sure if her problem is that she doesn’t have complete confidence in her dark side ways and ultimately wants to be able to say, “I’m only doing it the way I was told to do it” or if she is on a mission to try to make me change my opinion to her dark side ways, but whatever her problem or mission is, I need her to stop. Now.

In terms of her wanting to be told what to do, I can understand that. I’m generally much happier being given a direction or an outline of what I need to do and then being left alone to my own devices to meet the goal.

That being said, I also don’t mind having a very explicit set of instructions for how to do something that I’m not familiar with. In fact, the more detailed the instructions are, the happier I am. I don’t like to ‘figure stuff out’ or ‘play by ear’. If there’s a recipe, I use it. If there’s a manual, I read it. But I don’t go out of my way to do unnecessary things. I don’t need to do 200% when 100% is perfectly acceptable.

I feel like she wants or is expecting something of me that I can’t provide. I also feel like she’s the frog in a well who cannot conceive of the ocean, as they say in Japan. I generally have my attention stretched over many facets of the business during the course of the day and I don’t have the time or the mental energy to get to the nitty gritty of all of them and sort things out to the nth degree. I do things the best I can using the resources I have, and while it may not always be the perfect solution, it gets done. Her work is a very narrow part of the business and so I guess what seems like a small issue to me, becomes a huge issue in her world. That’s why I guess when she goes on and on about something, I want to ask, “Don’t you have something bigger to worry about?” or better yet,

“Aren’t you worried about the sky falling?”

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