0725-how-to-deal-with-a-control-freak

Last post, I talk about letting go of control.

But what if you aren’t the one who is desperate for control?

What if someone else in your life is the one who is controlling?

At work, you have employers, managers and even colleagues who like to micromanage. At home, your parents want you to do as you are told and your children demand your attention. In relationships, your partner tries to manipulate you to do something, intentionally or unintentionally.

Some people love to be in command of every situation. They have such a compulsive need to control other people that others termed them as “control freak”.

Do you have someone in your life who is like this? How do you deal with them?

You can try to avoid them, but what if you have to see them everyday? And what if they are someone you genuinely care about? What do you do?

Here’s how to deal with a control freak.

1. Stand your ground.

When it comes to dealing with controlling people, it’s important to know your boundaries and standards first. It’s easy for someone like me who wants harmony and peace to give in. But to create a win-win situation, we need to include ourselves.

Don’t give your power away.

No matter how controlling a person is, no one can force you to do something that you don’t wish to do. Even if at work, someone who has a higher authority than you, asks you to do something that is against your values and principles. You don’t have to do it.

I’m not saying you have to disagree about everything. You would have to weigh which is more important — your values or your job. If something is insignificant to you, then it’s okay to go with the flow.

Don’t be afraid to say no. Be firm. Don’t give up your values just to please others.

2. Recognize how they try to control you.

Some controlling behaviors are obvious while some are pretty subtle. To prevent yourself from being controlled by others, you need to know all the different ways they try to control you.

Some control freaks use passive-aggressive ways to make you do something:

  • They play the victim role.
  • They make you feel guilty for not helping them.
  • They give you the silent treatment.
  • They make you feel obligated to do something.
  • They ask you trick questions so that it seems like you are the one who wants to do it.

While others are more aggressive, they threaten you with authority or push you into a corner until you agree.

Even “nice” people can be controlling too.

For example, parents who have the best interests for you may be controlling too. They make you feel guilty for chasing your own dreams or make you do the things they think would be good for you.

Anytime someone tries to get you to do something that’s beyond your wishes, that’s controlling. Recognize it and develop strategies to deal with it.

3. Understand how you contribute to their controlling behaviors.

When you feel controlled by people in your life, ask yourself, “How did you contribute to their controlling behavior?”

  • Did you argue with them?
  • Did you try to prove that you were right and they were wrong?
  • Were you giving them reasons to control you?
  • Were your self-worth dependant on them?
  • Did you want to be controlled by them?

If you want to change them, you are also trying to control them.

When you try to change them or their controlling ways, can you see that you are trying to control them too? You can’t accept their behaviors, that’s why you want to change them. When I say accept, I don’t mean condone their behaviors or do what you are told. I mean not resisting or fighting their behaviors and letting them be.

My brothers always wonder why they gets nagged at by our parents while I don’t. It’s not because my parents are unfair. It’s because I don’t feed my parents’ ego. We may have opposing views but I bite my tongue. I try my best not to argue with them.

It takes two hands to clap.

When someone tries to control you, you can only feel it when you push back. If someone tries to make you feel guilty, but you don’t, then there’s nothing the other person can do to you.

And if your parents or spouse try to control you, check to see if you are taking responsibilities for your own life. Perhaps you are showing them you can’t live on your own or you give them the impression that you need someone to control you.

4. Let them manage their own expectations.

Some parents would still tell you what to do even when you are 40 and they expect you to listen. Children grow up to become adults. But for some reasons, it’s more difficult for parents to grow out of their roles as parents. Most still see their children as kids who can’t take care of themselves.

When your parents try to control you and instruct you to do things a certain way, realize that:

  • They can’t accept what you are doing now.
  • They think you don’t know what’s good for you.
  • They think they know what’s best for you more than you do.
  • They want you to do it their way.
  • They expect you to listen to them because they are your parent.

You can’t do anything about it.

Just don’t make it your problem.

When someone has fixed expectations of you, continue your own path and allow them to manage their own expectations. Don’t feel that it’s your responsibilities to fulfil their expectations.

5. Understand why they want to control.

Most of the times, control freak may not know they are controlling. Their controlling behaviors are just a reflection of what they feel inside:

  • They might be afraid of things falling apart.
  • They want to control the outcome because they are afraid of failure.
  • They lack of trust in others.

Rather than fighting against their controlling ways, we could try to understand why they want control.

Deep down inside, they are just insecure.

For example, if you have a boss who loves to micromanage, know that they are not trying to make things difficult for you. They are afraid that you can’t deliver the outcome the client desire. I know it’s frustrating to have someone watched over you as you work. But don’t take it personally.

This is true for controlling parents too. They are afraid about your future. Know that it’s what their beliefs about the future that are limiting. Most still have the best interests for you. And when your partner is being too controlling and demanding, talk to them. Understand where they are coming from.

6. If you can, just give them what they need.

When you know why controlling people behave as such, you would know what to give them.

For example, in the case of controlling parents, they just need some reassurance. In their eyes, you would always be a kid. So let them see that you know what is good for you. Display confidence is what you do and your choices. Tell them it’s okay. Show them you can handle challenges and failures.

And if I have a boss who’s controlling, I would simply oblige and do the best that I can. If my boss think that he can do a better job than I could, I would happily let my boss do the work.

Give but not at the expense of your values or visions.

But make sure you don’t give at the expense of what is discussed on point #1. You can reassure your parents, but don’t give out on your dreams. If you need really need autonomy in your work, then perhaps you should change another working environment. If you need freedom in your life, some controlling relationships may have to be ended.

Let them know you are not against them as a person. But their behaviors are against your visions or values.


Featured Photo Credit: Arms Folded / Kerry Lannert

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