How do you deal with nitpicking co-workers?

Your organization’s executives and employees might mean well when they offer suggestions, but if they’re not qualified to do so, it can be a huge frustration.

If you’ve had co-workers and execs who think they can complete communications tasks better than you do, you’re not alone.

Though from a designer’s point of view, a comic from The Oatmeal titled “How a Web Design Goes Straight to Hell” chronicles the pain that know-it-alls inflict on PR pros and communicators.

Projects can easily get derailed when executives, managers and random co-workers feel obligated to make changes to your work—all so they feel like they’ve done their job.

How many times have you heard something like this?

  • “I made an A in my college English class, so why don’t you let me take a look at that ad copy?”
  • “I was pretty good at art in school, so I think you should use these colors in the new exhibit.”
  • “I don’t think our website visitors will know what “get a quote” means. Can we make that more obvious?”

It’s one thing to receive constructive feedback from another graphic designer, writer or PR pro—or from someone like a marketing director.

However, it’s frustrating to receive unwelcome feedback from a co-worker whose one claim to expertise is that he or she reads a lot. Others demand detailed explanations for your decisions and will argue with you if you don’t follow their suggestions.

As The Oatmeal points out, would they offer such suggestions if we were engineers designing the turbine of a commercial airplane?

Or would you—as a corporate communicator, PR pro or social media marketer—say something like this to another professional, such as an architect? “I was really good with Legos as a kid; may I look at the blueprints and make some suggestions?” You probably would not.

My question for you—and the reason for this post—is to ask how frequently you deal with officious co-workers who feel compelled to make changes to your work. What stories do you have, Ragan readers, and how have you dealt with the situation?

Laura Hale Brockway is a medical writer and editor from Austin, Texas. Read more of her work at

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