You know them. The people who just can’t let a misspoken or mispronounced word go. They will correct your grammar or use the phrases “well, actually” or “technically” to the point that conversations can be exhausting (and we might be left wondering why, as this is a subtle social skill that may get missed).
They might also hold up a game by insisting on reading through the rules despite the fact that everyone else is okay with moving along.
Nitpickers can sound very critical, even though it is almost never their intention. They tend to see the world in a very concrete way, from their own perspective and will point out the things that don’t fit their scheme of things.
Certainly, we need those sticklers and people who pay attention to every detail, because their brains do amazing scientific and mathematical things that require this degree of scrutiny. The challenge for these folks is that most social interactions do not.
People who offer unnecessary corrections are usually unaware that they are doing so, and those who notice and don’t appreciate the constant correcting usually will just find ways to limit interactions with them.
This is one of those coaching scenarios when pointing out to kids and teens when they are doing this is the most effective strategy. It can become a lifelong habit if we don’t help a child or teen build awareness that social interactions need to be more flexible, sound less critical, and resist the urge to correct people unnecessarily.
For example. I say, “it’s 3:00 and almost time to finish up.” The corrector will say, “Well, actually, it’s 2:58.”
I have been corrected on how to pronounce Pokemon more times than I can count.
The most difficult thing for those who are being corrected is that it not only takes away from the interaction, it makes us feel less intelligent and then we begin to examine and watch everything we say so as not to trigger a correction.
What can you say? Something to the effect of:
“I don’t like being constantly corrected.”
“I’d like to let these small things go when we talk.”
“Is that something that really needs to be said? Does it add anything to the conversation?”
“When I am corrected so much, I don’t like how it feels. You may not be aware of it, but I’m letting you know.”
“If the words well, actually or technically are in your brain, it very likely is an unnecessary correction and doesn’t need to be said out loud.”
There are a few kids and teens that I have met that do take pleasure in pointing out mistakes that people make. For those who take pleasure in it, there’s usually not a whole lot that can be done, except for pointing out that their choice of correcting people for their own self-amusement, may very likely be costing them friendships.