How would you deal with your manager if he doesn’t see the company’s cultural problems and tries to convince you to behave passive-aggressive?

Let me explain the situation. I’m a software engineer, and we do peer code reviews in the team. Sometimes, I get nit-picking comments and refuse to make changes with constructive feedback. In reply, my colleagues insist on their nit-picks (they even admit that they are nit-picking) for very long time, about 5 hours. In the end, I become told that 5 minutes caused triggered frustration and 5 hours discussion. But, wait, I’m frustrated and have wasted an enormous amount of time as well. It even has happened with a team lead; he allowed himself to ignore my feedback and kept resisting to change anything for 5 hours. Should not he value his, my, and company’s time and stop such discussions?

I have talked to my manager about this situation. He mentioned that Personal Development would help me dramatically. And he advised to ignore nit-picks and keep working, saying it would help me to think positively. But I do tell reviewers explicitly why I’m not ignoring their comments and why I don’t want to take them into account. It prevents me from keeping unsaid thoughts inside and sets a barrier between me and nitpicking. I believe, nobody wants to have nit-picks.

It seems my manager does not want to see the whole picture. He does not want to find the root of problems and fix it. He sees me “complaining” and thinks that I should be fixed instead.

I believe he is afraid of the whole picture because he himself causes a part of toxic energy floating in our company’s culture. Allowing it to exist, everyone picks up these waves and takes out on each other.

How would you explain this to your manager?

  • 2
    You either work to change the environment calmly, slowly and with patience focusing on the benefits instead of the problems or you move to another environment.
    – Tiago Cardoso
    Sep 24 '17 at 19:22
  • Both quality control / peer reviews and coaching occur on projects, and conflicts therefrom. Sep 25 '17 at 22:04

Seems more on-topic for Workplace than here, but I'll give an answer anyway.

If you have a good reason for not doing the "nit pick" (read: "small improvement") changes (such as the fact that it would take 5 minutes to make the change, and then 3 hours to test to make sure nothing broke, given you have no unit tests... etc.), then explain the reason to your co-worker.

If you don't have a good reason... then just make the change. A small improvement is still a small improvement. Meaning it is better to have it than not.

"You have a typo in this variable here."


"...Aren't you going to fix it?"


"...Why not?"

"Can't be bothered."

"It takes five seconds."

"Don't care."

^ That is not reasonable. (Not saying this is definitely what you're doing, but it's what it comes off as.)

Now, let's assume, for the sake of argument, that you do have a good reason, and your co-worker still insists. The first thing you need to do is find out why. Make sure you understand where your co-worker is coming from. Then, and only then, if and only if you can't find a solution between yourselves, you go to your manager. And if you don't get a response you want/expect there, begin by finding out why. And then, again, if you understand your co-worker and manager completely, and it's still an issue, then you can take it up the chain to your boss's boss.


So you receive comments on your work and you judge them to be "nitpicking." You receive a comment from your manager and you judge him "afraid of the whole picture. And you judge the culture to be toxic.

Here's how you should respond to your manager: "Boss, I often believe I am the smartest guy in the room. But I believe this to be a defense for thinking I am actually the weakest. Consequently, I am defended at the most innocent comment that attacks me and my competence and immediately attack back and look to reassign blame to others. This is something I really need to work on."

Seriously, you likely own the root cause here. Your OP is riddled with insecurity signals.

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