Q. My boss is an upholsterer, and I’m a seamstress. Often when a new project comes up, he goes into extended detail about how to handle it. He’ll review extremely basic techniques with me, like how to cut the fabric. How do I kindly tell him that he doesn’t need to keep explaining how to perform tasks that I do every day? He obviously feels that it’s necessary to remind me time and time again.
A. There are a couple of ways to handle your boss’s micromanaging with polite, even flattering, directness. The next time he launches into a long list of instructions, gently raise your hand and interject with something like “Remember, Hal, that you had the good sense to hire me in the first place. I’ve pretty much got the basics down.” Or: “Don’t worry—you trained me well. I’ve got backstitching covered.”
However, he may just be one of those people who relish any opportunity to flaunt their expertise. In that case, ramp up the praise. Tell him, “I can definitely handle the nuts and bolts, but I would love it if you would show me how you did that piping with the mohair velvet.” He’ll still be playing know-it-all, but at least it will be about something that you don’t already know
— Catherine Newman