Nobody is perfect. We all strive to be as good a version of ourselves as we can be. Our chosen partner has the unique ability to assist in this quest. That’s why I’d like to discuss nit-picking.
We look at people who nit-pick as insatiable problem-finders, too preoccupied with little nuisances to notice the big picture. Maybe the word nitwit has contributed to the negative connotation of nits. A nitwit is another word for an imbecile, or a stupid person. A nit-picker is not a nitwit. It is someone with a great attention to detail and the ability to notice things most people do not. I suggest we look at the term in a new way to better understand the people who pick nits.
The origins of nit-picking goes back to primates. We have all seen that national geographic video of a gorilla picking bugs off another gorilla’s hair. They were nit-picking. Nits are lice eggs that grow in hair and before modern treatments were available, the only way to get all the nits was to meticulously pick them out one by one.
Many people in relationships are bothered when they feel their partner is nit-picking. They feel like they can’t do anything right, and their partner will point out any and all shortcomings they can find. What they don’t realize is that this scrutiny to which they are subjected is their partner’s way of attempting to figuratively clean them in a detailed way. I believe it can actually be beneficial to have someone help to find the little things that we can improve upon.
The stipulation is the receiver of the picking needs to be ready to be picked. If you are “picking on” an unwilling target, they may become offended, and respond with anger or frustration. Nobody likes being informed of their shortcomings or dwell on things they do wrong. An open-minded person, willing to learn about their habits and behaviors could benefit a great deal from a nit-picker. If relayed in small doses, the picking of nits can shed much light on habits or attributes that could be changed for the better.
If you are living with a nit-picker, tell them when the time is right to share their findings. If you are the picker of nits, wait until your subject turns around and exposes their scalp before digging your fingers in and exploring their details.
– John Powers