I don't know...one day I was told by a friend that I was being too persnickety. I don't know that word to be honest so I looked up. Persnickety means someone being picky or fussy. I don't think I am that kind of person. I like to put things as they should be. Everything should be in their own place, very organized so that it will be easy to locate once needed.

One recent example, in the kitchen, I use to place water jar right next to electric kettle. I hate others in my family always place them in different and separate places. It is totally not organized and it is inconvenient for anyone. Whenever I found they were mis-placed, I would place them back in place. Most of the time, I would do it quickly without any emotion. But sometimes, I would feel mad about whoever did that. I would tell them why I insist the water jar and kettle put together in one place. They agreed that I had a point. So that day my friend was there, she saw what happened and then she said that I was being persnickety.

I did some research and found this about persnickety person. Yes I am that kind of following routine kinda person. How can I communicate with my family and my friend that they would appreciate the way I am, instead of judging me? I wish someone will give me some insight.

  • I'm a bit late the party, I admit... but could you tell us what you've already tried to communicate this to your family and friend that you'd rather not be judged? The situation you describe seems focused on letting people know the water jar should be next to the electric kettle, and doesn't really provide any information about how the conversation with e.g. your friend about being persnickity went. If we're to help you communicate that, could you please also add information about that part of the converstaion and how that went?
    – Tinkeringbell
    Commented May 19, 2020 at 8:37

1 Answer 1


There are two very different issues here in terms of your family and friends accepting your desire to have things a certain and specific way.

Imagine that you're in the kitchen, you do something involving the water jar, and then you put it next to the kettle. You're feeling pleased that everything is in its place, and then suddenly someone is there teasing you:

Oh yeah, look at you, have to put it in that one spot don't you? You're so fussy and particular...

This is mean, uncalled for, and not something you've described as happening.

Now move into the second issue, where you are not just "doing your own thing" but you're "correcting" what you see as someone else's mistake. You come into the kitchen, the water jar isn't where you think it should be, you move it. You don't say anything about anyone, but someone sees you move it and feels corrected, feels that your actions are a way of saying they did the wrong thing leaving it where it was. Feeling hurt, they say that your desire to have it there is wrong, when they really mean that you correcting them is wrong:

Oh fussy person, you're not the one who used that, why are you moving it? Just leave it!

This is much less mean, even if they call you a bit of a name, and it's born from a desire to assert that their ways, where they don't really car where the water jar is, are ok too. They'd like you to appreciate them the way they are. Right?

But now a further case. You don't just quietly move the water jar to where you think it should be. You get mad. You tell your family they're doing it wrong, you go into some details about "totally not organized" and "inconvenient" which means that you're insulting them and their habits in the kitchen. Now none of them answer back or ask to be appreciated as they are, but someone else says

You sure are caring about a very small detail

And you know what? That person might not even be wrong. Which is bigger, your desire to have the water jar in the most convenient place, or your desire to have a happy family relationship?

Ah that's the thing. I think if it was just a little thing to you that the jar is in the wrong place, you wouldn't get mad. You wouldn't lecture them on how to do it right. But sometimes you can't help yourself. OK. So how can you deal with the misplaced water jar in a way that doesn't upset your family or inspire visitors to defend your family by calling you a name?

The key is that what may seem like a little thing to most people can be a big thing to others. I have people in my life who care very strongly about things that feel like absolutely nothing to me at all. Over the years, some have done a better job than others at letting me know that these small things are important to them. From the ones who are better at it, I've learned how to communicate with others about my own "little things" that matter a lot to me.

Here's what I recommend. Stop trying to teach people the logical reasons why the water jar belongs next to the kettle. When you see it in the wrong place, just move it. That's all. Fix the thing that's bothering you. If anyone -- family, visitor, anyone -- comments or teases, don't explain why the jar belongs there or get into an argument. Say something like:

I know it doesn't matter to most people. It matters to me. I'm not making anyone else move it, I'm not starting a fight.

The less of a deal you make of this preference, the less other people will feel compelled to discuss it. The less you get mad at family and demand they keep the water jar where you want it, the less visitors will feel the need to "stick up" for your family. You may feel calmer when you remember that they are not leaving the jar in other places to bother you, but because it doesn't occur to them that it particularly matters where the jar is. I have experienced this from both sides: people who can tell me about what matters to them without getting mad, and without lecturing me about the topic (I am not going to care no matter how many details they provide, I will just feel attacked or nagged), and for myself, getting more understanding from others about my own "small things" by not making them something to be angry about.

Over time, if you get fed up of moving the water jar, you could ask others to join your campaign of caring where the water jar is kept. But for now, work on it not being a big deal, not something you get mad about, not something your family argues about, not something visiting friends feel they have to comment on. Because yes, your preference for this is part of who you are. And your family seems to mostly appreciate you as you are. One visitor objected, but it's not entirely clear the objection was to your preference: it might have been to the getting mad and lecturing. That's not part of who you are, is it?

  • 2
    Hey! Like most of your answers, this one is well explained... but it also lacks the part where you describe what happened when you used this recipe to make cookies. As per our citation expectations and the SO blog, we need answerers to explain how they've been in a similar situation before or when possible, provide literature to back up their suggestion. Could you please edit your answer to add that information?
    – Tinkeringbell
    Commented May 19, 2020 at 8:29

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.