Dealing with a control freak

Everyone knows one. At some point in your life, whether it be a parent, teacher, friend, or partner, you will inevitably encounter this person. They are also the people you least want to surround yourself with because, simply put: they make life difficult.

Being around a control freak is to be in a state of constant vigilance, frustration, and stress. The following tips outline their issues, how they operate, and how to best handle them.

Contents

Why Do They Behave This Way?

Being a control freak stems from a lack of control in a person’s life. They seek to re-establish that control by foisting themselves on others. In a rather strange twist, they believe: “Well, I can’t control my life, but I can feel more in control by controlling yours.”

Controlling other people makes them feel better about themselves, and eases their anxieties.

While you may never understand the combination of events that caused a particular person to become a control freak, you can determine several things about what drives them to continue to be this way.

There are three things that make up a control freak:

1. Lack Of Confidence

The need to control others often stems from a deep-seated lack of self-confidence. The individual doing the controlling feels that they are not good enough and must assert themselves by dominating others in an aggressive show of strength. In this area, you will find two types of control freaks: The Bully, and the Manipulator.

The Bully

For some people, this is quite literally, aggressive, antagonistic behavior, i.e., your typical schoolyard bully.

In adults, this person is a loud, overbearing braggart, who snaps at people to intimidate them into doing what they want. If you try and argue with them, they will just get louder, and wear you down to the point where you just want the situation to end, so you cave and let them have their way.

This behavior is more often seen in men, than women, because men are socialized to use more aggressive methods to assert their wants and needs. This behavior is also more typical where the power dynamic is disparate; for example: a boss-employee, teacher-student, or in law enforcement.

The stakes are high for the person being bullied and they comply so as not to lose their jobs, get in trouble, or risk their grades. The control freaks in this situation know full well that they can get away with it, and that because they are in a position of power, they will face few, if any consequences.

These bullies don’t have to be hulking giants; they just have to be louder, and appear more threatening than the person they are trying to cajole.

The Manipulator

In other instances, control freak behavior manifests in more insidious ways, through manipulation and passive-aggression aimed at wearing you down, tricking you into agreeing, or making you feel bad for not complying.

This second type of control freak can actually be worse, because at least with the bully, you know what you’re in for and can avoid triggering a blow up, or remove yourself quickly when one occurs. The manipulative control freak manages to get you to do what they want through the use of emotional bullying. They lack the confidence and physical presence to pull off intimidation tactics, so they get to you by making you feel guilty or unreasonable when you refuse their requests.

This is often a coworker or friend, a parent, and more commonly, (although, not always) a woman. While there still may be a difference in power dynamics, the situations are usually not as dire as with a bully.

Manipulators rarely yell, but they make you feel terrible about saying no. They chip away at you by making you feel selfish or unreasonable for putting your needs ahead of their own. It’s often only well after the fact that you realize exactly what happened, and feel resentful and angry.

2. Trust Issues

Control freaks are micro-managers. They don’t trust people to do anything better than they can do it themselves. They hover over you at every turn, pointing out how they would do it better while constantly criticizing you.

They are often perfectionists and expect everyone around them to fall in line. This makes just being around them exhausting. If you have ever been around a person who makes you feel like there is nothing you can do right, and you feel bad about yourself no matter how hard you try, you have been around a control freak.

3. Superiority Complex

In order to maintain control, control freaks have to appear like they know what they’re doing, or what they’re talking about. This means the need to keep up appearances.

This is the bully manager who believes that, having been there for many years, they don’t need to learn about the new processes or systems to help their employees, because their way is better. This is the manipulative coworker who tells people how to do their jobs, or sabotages peers in order to look good to the boss.

What’s really going on here? Change threatens their control, so they dig their heels in, and try to save face at all costs. If that means you’re a casualty, or a means to an end, so be it.

You may also like (article continues below):

  • 8 Types Of Controlling People You May Encounter In Life
  • 6 Personal Signs You Are The Victim Of Bullying
  • The Gray Rock Method Of Dealing With A Narcissist When No Contact Isn’t An Option
  • Walking The Fine Line Between Persuasion And Manipulation
  • The 6 Masks A Narcissist May Wear (And How To Spot Them)
  • How To Stop Being Controlling In A Relationship

Managing The Micromanager

So how do you deal with control freaks? If you can’t avoid them, there are a few ways to minimize their damage:

  1. If you’re dealing with a bullying type of control freak in a family/friend situation, leave. There is no obligation for you to stay and have to endure verbal abuse. No amount of turkey, sad-faced grandma, holiday guilt, or years of friendship, should induce you to put up with that behavior. Every time this person raises their voice or tries to bait you into an altercation, remove yourself from the situation. If they are unwilling to change, make that removal permanent.
  2. If it is a work situation, it can be trickier. If the bully is your boss, report their behavior to Human Resources (if such a department exists). It may feel like you’re giving into them, but start to look for another job; after all, while HR may step in or document the situation, it could be a long time before that person is removed or you can transfer to a different department.
  3. If you’re dealing with a manipulator, like a coworker or friend, just keep reiterating your needs and saying no. Practice saying no every morning in a mirror if you must, but say it. No is your weapon in fighting off their underhanded tactics and asserting yourself.
  4. Don’t sweat the small stuff. As much as it may pain you to do so, let them have their little wins. If it’s something that doesn’t really matter that much, you are probably better off relinquishing your control and letting them have it. Save your assertive “no” for those times when you have a strong preference to do something on your terms. Otherwise, you risk a never-ending argument.
  5. Don’t take their controlling behavior personally; it is a character flaw of theirs that can have one of many different causes. It does not reflect on you, your character, or your abilities; chances are they are like this with everybody. It is not a personal attack on you, but rather a coping mechanism they employ; albeit a rather testing one.
  6. Don’t fight them or try to change them – this will only lead to an escalation as they seek to assert their dominance over you. Instead, save your own sanity by accepting the situation and either leaving, as suggested above, or detaching yourself emotionally from their incessant orders, demands, and criticisms.
  7. Make suggestions and add your individual flair, but be prepared for them to be rejected outright. Take a gentle approach and ask them what they think of your ideas rather than just implementing them without any consultation (which they would consider an aggressive attempt to undermine them). This way you can stroke their ego and make them feel like they have control, while still playing an active, rather than passive, role in the situation.
  8. The best tip I can offer is, above all, try and remain calm. Allowing yourself to get upset just adds kindling to their fire. When you respond calmly, you limit their power over you. Part of being a control freak is about getting a reaction; they enjoy the feeling of power and being in control. If they aren’t able to bully or manipulate you, they can no longer control you and they will move on to another target.

It’s time for you to take back control, from the control freak.

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How to Deal with the Control Freak

“As scary as they seem, the control freak can be controlled” courtesy of Sarah

Years ago in a galaxy far, far away I worked for a woman who made Attila the Hun seem like Mahatma Gandhi; a micro-managing, over-controlling, bombastic… person.

She didn’t just want to know what her staff were doing every second, but what they were thinking. She wouldn’t credit people with intelligence or any initiative, and morale sank quicker than the Titanic after its fateful meeting with a certain obstructive iceberg.

Actually, I didn’t take it personally. It wasn’t just my every move, idea, or attitude she’d try to control – it was everyone’s. But control freaks can make life miserable. Not just for others but also for themselves. Imagine feeling you have to control everything. We all have a need for control to make us feel secure, but control freaks take this need and turn it into a greed.

Because it’s “my way or the highway!” it can feel like being bullied to those in the path of the control freak, but they don’t necessarily intend to bully you. A control freak may not be a bad person.

Is there a control freak in your life? Maybe you’re in an intimate relationship with a control freak or perhaps you work with one. Here are some ideas that helped me deal with a control freak.

1) Separate controlling behaviour from good stuff

If someone controls us much of the time, we may justify their control of us. Why would we do this? Well, perhaps they are really good to us in some ways. Maybe they work hard, perhaps they are generous, and maybe they have done you loads of great favours. But to deal with their control freakery, you need to compartmentalize it in your mind. Otherwise you run the risk of being held ransom by an emotional blackmailer.

If someone was wonderful to you most of the time but once a month stole money from you, then that’s what you have to deal with – regardless of all the other times they are nice and decent.

You shouldn’t be abused and controlled by them as the price you have to pay for them being great at other times. So you could tell yourself: “Okay, they are wonderful in lots of ways; they baked that cake for my birthday, they picked my kids up from school that time, but they always seem to be telling me what to do and it’s that which I need to deal with.”

If you don’t do this, then you’ll feel too guilty and beholden to them to ever deal with their controlling nature.

In this way, if you do confront them and they try to do the “after all I’ve done for you” stuff, you can be clear in your mind and communication that it is not that to which you are referring.

Give the control freak a chance to control their behaviour. Take them to one side and say: “Look, you are wonderful in many ways, but in this specific context I find that you keep trying to control me and boss me around. Can you possibly control this tendency, please?” Some control freaks really don’t know how dictatorial they are until it’s pointed out.

2) Stand your ground with the control freak by not arguing

Arguing with the control freak seldom works. Why? Because they are an expert at justifying to themselves and everyone else why they are right. They are world authorities in being “right”. They have spent whole lifetimes practicing “being right”. So trying to out-argue them can be nigh on impossible.

Instead, state your position but don’t always feel you have to justify it to them. If you want to buy a certain pair of shoes and they feel you should get the pair they think are right for you, then don’t fall into the trap of trying to come up with lots of reasons to justify your decision. Just stick to the most unarguable statement you can think of – such as “I like these shoes!”

3) Use the “broken record technique” to confound the control freak

If your control freak tells you why you should buy the shoes they think are best, use the broken record technique:

Control Freak: “You should get these other shoes because they are better value for money!”

You: “I know, but I like these shoes the best!”

Control Freak: “These other shoes are better made and will last longer!”

You: “I know, but I just like these other shoes!”

Control Freak: “These shoes are more fashionable at the moment!”

You: “I know, but I really like these other shoes!”

Control Freak: “You know what? Why don’t you get your blessed shoes, then?”

In this example, the control freak had to do all the work because you just had one reason which you stuck to and it was a reason with which they couldn’t really argue. They could argue that the shoes weren’t fashionable or even value for money, but they couldn’t disagree that you liked them the best. Give one reason and stick to it until they run out of steam.

4) Use humour to manage the control freak

All of the harsher dictatorships in history have taken a dim view of humour because laughter and flexible thinking feel like threats to prevailing dogma.

Control freaks have a need for high status and may often show a lack of humour, especially where they themselves are concerned. People who can laugh at themselves tend to see the bigger picture and therefore don’t always try to inflict their limited viewpoint as the only possible viewpoint.

You can gently start to introduce humour into your dealings with the control freak. In this way, you can gradually introduce more flexibility into their approach without directly confronting them.

One woman I knew said that a particularly controlling colleague (not a manager) kept issuing ‘orders’ to her as if she were a slavish minion. Eventually my friend took to bowing deeply and saying: “My role in life is to hear and to obey.” As you can imagine, the control freak was a little disconcerted by this, but soon began to correct his own behaviour. This woman’s over-the-top reaction to his bossiness gave him a chance to observe his own actions objectively. Don’t underestimate the power of humour.

A word of warning here, though: Use humour by all means, but if you really feel the need to confront them about their bossiness, then making jokes may send the message that you are not serious about how annoying you find them. So make jokes as a way of tempering their dictatorial attitude but when you mean business, don’t mix your messages.

5) Be prepared to walk away – let them control other people

Ultimately, it’s not your role to control a control freak. A mature human being knows what they can and cannot influence and control. Compulsively trying to control everything is what children do when they still think they are the centre of the Universe.

If they will not change then get out of their way if you possibly can. Because whilst you are being controlled too much by someone else, you will never be free to develop.

If you are happy with being controlled or really do feel it’s a small price to pay for having this person in your life, then discount all of the above. But if you feel pushed, pulled, and directed and are fed up with it, then it’s time to act.

As for me, I left that job and went on to better things.

5 Steps to Handle Yourself Around Controlling People

To be in control is a good thing. To be controlling is not. There is a big difference.

One who is too controlling is in fact so out of control they lose everything in their grasp.

I’m sure you have seen it before. Someone who is so controlling they need to get their voice heard in every situation. They set guidelines and rules so stringent no one could possibly measure up. One slip up and there is war. The ‘My way or the highway mentality’.

It’s like they have a choke hold on every aspect of their life and maybe yours too. If it is a parent, the kids are given the idea they can’t trust in themselves because everything they do is never good enough. As an adult the same message is received however it is also demeaning to ones character.

We see it time and time again, these people’s lives come crashing down and they don’t understand why. To those of us looking in we could see it coming. When all of our suggestions to help went on deaf ears, we just shut up and did what we were told.

But there are some things you can do to either understand their controlling behavior or at the very least, minimize the effects on you.

Understand The Controlling Behavior

– People who try to control others are themselves out of control – in their mind that is. Often, they have many conflicting thoughts which create havoc in their mind. They will then latch on to that which they know they can control thus making them feel better. It is kind of a protection for them.

– Whatever is going on for them is never about you. Human nature allows us to take things like this personally. Don’t. Remember, they are doing this for their own sense of inner control, but doing it via outward expression.

– Being a control freak is a compulsion. Recognize that it began for them long before you showed up. In other words they try to do it to everyone.

– More often than not, control freaks have low self esteem. They do not have enough inner trust to handle outcomes other than ones they plan.

– Control freaks never want to appear vulnerable. But in fact they are.

Be In Alignment With Your Values

– Don’t engage with them. Do not allow yourself to fall into the same behavior you are trying to avoid. Situations like this aren’t about winning. Or at least they shouldn’t be from your end. Do what you need to do in an unfavorable situation whether that is hanging up the phone, walking away or not responding to an email. These are subtle reminders to that person that what they are doing is not ok with you. Remember people do what works. When you stop allowing it they stop doing it. It won’t be overnight but it will happen.

– Do not react. Knowing now what you do about control freaks, when they become aggressive take off your armor. Show them you are not a threat to them and you just want to help. You can do this by simply remaining calm no matter how much turmoil they are trying to create. This more than anything shows great strength.

– Remain fearless. Everything is energy and we are emitting energy with each emotion. We are also receiving other people’s energy. Note the energy in the room while with a control freak. The minute you begin emitting fear energy they pick up on it and the behavior gets worse.

Ask For Help

– Control freaks like to be in control. By asking for their help you are giving them that control. They can now ‘tell’ you something and they will have your undivided attention. They may teach you something very valuable and it may also help build trust with them as well.

– If you are being issued orders ask them how they would like to see it done. If they have already done that, find a relevant question and ask it. The point is you are asking the control freak to help you and letting them know you understand the importance.

– Try to find a solution to their problem and ask them for help resolving it.

Offer Extra Help

– Do something that proves to the control freak that they can trust you to get the job done.

– If there are moments where the controlling is at a minimum do more. This also sends a message.

– Ask for the opportunity to do something to lessen their load. Make sure it is something you want to do and do it well. They will soon see someone other than themselves is quite capable to get things done.

Trust Yourself

– Self trust is crucial. When you trust in you, all fear goes by the wayside. Knowing you can handle whatever comes sets you apart from failure. Not everything works out exactly as planned. When you trust yourself it doesn’t matter. You know that there is a deeper meaning and move on. You don’t dwell and fret and stew over it you simply learn from it and proceed with the next thing.

-With self trust you don’t take these things personally. You accept what is and remain calm and intact.

-Decision making becomes easy and self confidence builds with inner trust.

There are reasons people have control issues and should not be judged. We need to look past these outward expressions and try to understand them as people.

So starting today, do your best to see others through new eyes.

My name is Suzanne Jones. I am a Certified Hypnotherapist and a Writer. I have a bloghttp://www.pristineperception.com and write based on true experiences. I guide people through either Hypnotherapy or my Writing to regain personal and mental control of their lives. Just one degree of perception change is all it takes.

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Angela Negro returned to her job after a holiday to find that nobody in the office would speak to her. Literally.

Even the assistant she had hired just weeks earlier wouldn’t utter a word.

“I went home in tears. My boss wouldn’t talk to me. No one would talk to me. It was as if I wasn’t there,” Negro said. Finally, someone explained that the boss had told everyone to ignore her. “If we , we’ll lose our jobs,” Negro recalled her colleague saying.

It was the mid-1990s and Negro had been working at a research company in Paris for about six months when the silent treatment began. All told, it lasted about three months, despite her efforts to talk things out with her supervisor. “It was just awful. I finally blew up and quit,” said Negro, who now lives in Toulouse.

Was she the victim of a bully boss, or simply someone who exerted extreme control? In many instances, bullying and bad behaviour in the workplace is all about control.

Experts on controlling relationships say moving on, as Negro did, is often the best and only successful tactic for ending the harsh treatment — at work and in personal relationships. That’s in large part because control-prone people likely won’t change. But if you must stay because you need the salary or for other reasons, you’ll need strategies for dealing with controlling people.

It starts with understanding the motivation for the behaviour, holding your ground and managing the problem with minimal involvement. Here’s how to identify a controller’s purposes, take charge and keep your sanity:

The DNA of a controller

Controlling behaviour from a colleague or boss has various origins — some you might not have considered. Perhaps your colleague is afraid of losing his position, or perhaps he is hiding his own incompetence, insecurities or fears.

“Many times controllers have been passed over for a promotion,” said Jim Warner, author of The Drama-Free Office: A Guide to Healthy Collaboration with Your Team, Coworkers, and Boss. “Then the bitterness leaks out on their colleagues and they try to manage their peers. The controller will second-guess or behave as a perfectionist.”

Lesley Stephenson, an expert on anger management based in Zurich, Switzerland, said people may have good intentions, even if their behaviour is destructive. “Understand that the other person may care too much,” she said. “Or perhaps the controller may not trust the delegation process.”

Whatever the reason, controlling attitudes can make the workplace a minefield, leaving victims unsure where they stand, explained Warner, who is based in Boulder, Colorado, in the US.

“I thought I had done something wrong, but I couldn’t pinpoint it,” said Negro, who never learned why her boss controlled colleagues so tightly. “Getting treated this way makes you put yourself in question.”

Strategy 1: Dissect and understand

California-based Patricia Evans, author of Controlling People: How to Recognize, Understand and Deal with People Who Try to Control You, said it is crucial to listen for ways a controlling person tries to enter your mind and dictate your reality.

At work, it may come up when the controller says, “Let me do it. We know you’re not good with numbers.”

Note the emphasis is on “we”. Someone who uses “we” in this way claims to know the other person’s perception of his own abilities — or the entire group’s perception of the person, Evans noted in her book.

Other examples: “I know why you raised that question in the meeting. You’re trying to : … claim territory as your own, bring attention to your idea, look good in front of the boss.”

This is another example of how the controller claims to know the inner motivations of another person. “If someone defines you, even in subtle ways, they are pretending to know the unknowable,” Evans said. “You can become exhausted trying to explain, ‘That’s not what I want, think, am trying to do’ and so forth. The constant stress can lead to physical illness, sleep problems, confusion and depression.”

Another big sign that a person is trying to control is the question “why”, said Warner.

“A 3-year-old genuinely wants to know why the sky is blue,” Warner said. “But almost all ‘why’ questions in the workplace are a statement shrouded as a question. Never answer a why question.”

Here’s how it works in practice.

Controlling colleague: “I saw your papers on the copy machine. Why are you working on that project?”

Possible translation: “You shouldn’t be working on that project.”

“Simply reflect back,” advised Warner. Don’t get defensive or try to rationalise with emotion.

A good response might be: “Sounds like you found my papers on the copy machine. It looks like you’re interested in my projects. Thanks for that.” Then walk away, recommends Warner.

Another option is engaging someone about his behaviour: “John, it sounds like there’s something else coming up for you with this project.”

Be careful with this option, however. An engaging response can still escalate controlling behaviour. The controller might say: “I asked you a question. Why are you working on that project?” Warner’s proposed answer, “John, what is it that you really want?”

Strategy 2: Say stop, mean stop

Often controlling behaviour is enforced with belittling or anger. Sometimes this occurs in private so the controller can keep the other person from having “evidence” of the hurtful behaviour. Negro says her boss in Paris would explode, but only behind closed doors. In the open, he used strategies such as silent treatment.

As difficult as it might sound, you must attempt to stick up for yourself, experts say.

“Sometimes people don’t want to speak out because they feel their job is in jeopardy,” said Stephenson. “My experience is that once the person does speak up, they find 10 other people who feel the same way.”

Speaking up might mean taking a firm and direct approach with the controlling person, even if this doesn’t suit your style. You’ve got to push back strongly. Warner said, “If you have a weak boundary, steamroll over it.”

Strategy 3: Manage and minimise

You can minimise the behaviour by refusing to engage with a controller on her terms, by managing her behaviour through careful dialogue or reducing interactions.

That’s important because if you stay in such an environment for too long, “it has pathological negative consequences, meaning you’ll get sick or it will impact the other relationships in your life,” Warner said.

In the end, if you have lived at odds with a controlling person for a long time, the best resolution may be to focus on letting go — or what in another setting may be called forgiveness.

“I can cling to it and suffer, or I can let it go,” said Warner. “Accept what happened. Take a deep cleansing breath. Look in the windshield instead of the rear-view mirror.”

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3 Ways to Deal with a Control Freak

Larry KimFollow Jan 10, 2017 · 3 min read

We all know one.

That insufferable person who micromanages and treats you like you’re completely incompetent. No one else is allowed to have ideas; your judgment isn’t trusted, and your contributions aren’t appreciated.

A control freak in the workplace is a totally toxic, confidence and happiness-killing distraction no one needs.

But you can’t change them.

In fact, trying to change a control freak -to make them respect you, appreciate you, or even just stop being such an overbearing nuisance in your life — will make you crazy. It’s an exercise in futility.

They’re constantly going to be disapproving of how you do things. Even if you try to do things their way, you won’t live up to a control freak’s standards. So, step one: accept that you cannot change a control freak. What’s left to do?

Outsmart them.

The control freak in your workplace is an enormous, immovable obstacle. You can’t get rid of it, so you’re going to have to learn to go around it. Here’s how.

1. Recognize when you’re being worked over.

Patricia Evans, author of Controlling People: How to Recognize, Understand and Deal with People Who Try to Control You, told BBC it’s “crucial to listen for ways a controlling person tries to enter your mind and dictate your reality.”

In her book, she demonstrated ways in which a control freak will get inside your head and throw you off your game. For example, they might say, “Here, I’ll finish the report. We all know formatting isn’t your strong point.”

“We?” You wonder. When did I screw up a report? Man, they were talking about it? Who is WE anyway?

Stop. Control freaks love, love, love to get inside your head like this. Stop giving them the pleasure of succeeding.

2. Don’t try to control a control freak.

Talk about paddling upstream… trying to assert control over someone determined to retain it is pointless.

In her 2011 book Emotional Freedom: Liberate Yourself From Negative Emotions and Transform Your Life, Dr. Judith Orloff advises, “Be healthily assertive rather than controlling. Stay confident and refuse to play the victim. Most important, always take a consistent, targeted approach.”

Control freaks love a good power struggle; playing into it never ends well.

3. Perfect your “scratched record” technique.

If you feel like talking to the control freak in your life is like talking to a brick wall, it’s not your imagination. They’ve already decided how things are going to go; you’re just window dressing. UK counselor Barbara Baker says control freaks are master of arguing. Your ideas and opinions simply get lost in their clever rhetoric.

Don’t take the bait.

Instead, she says, “Keep it simple. Employ the ‘scratched record’ technique: state and restate what you believe, feel or need.”

Other ways you can outsmart the control freak in your life:

  • Try to understand what drives their controlling behavior — are they fearful of their own failure, or perhaps power hungry? You don’t have to accept it, but knowing what motivates them can help you figure out how to deal with each new aggression.
  • Keep a neutral gaze, expression and tone of voice when speaking with them. Don’t let your emotions get the best of you.
  • Make it clear that you’re committed to working with them, but let them know your boundaries and that they’re non-negotiable.

Finally, move on if it’s unbearable. Your life is too short and precious to live miserably under the thumb of an unrepentant control freak. If you feel that your safety, security dignity, self-worth, health or happiness are threatened, you need to seriously ask yourself if it’s worth it.

Originally published on Inc.com

About The Author

Larry Kim is the CEO of Mobile Monkey and founder of WordStream. You can connect with him on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and Instagram.

Do you have an energy vampire in your life? Get the “Energy Vampire Survival Guide” PDF here.

As a psychiatrist, I have observed that relationships are one of the major sources of exhaustion for many of my patients. In “Emotional Freedom” I discuss how to deal with different kinds of draining people to avoid getting fatigued, sick, or burned out.

It’s important to identify if you are dealing with a “controller.” These people obsessively try to dictate how you’re supposed to be and feel. They have an opinion about everything; disagree at your peril. They’ll control you by invalidating your emotions if those don’t fit into their rulebook. Controllers often start sentences with, “You know what you need?”…then proceed to tell you. They’ll sling shots like, “That guy is out of your league” or “I’ll have dinner with you if you promise to be happy.” People with low self-esteem who see themselves as “victims” attract controllers. Whether spouting unsolicited advice on how you can lose weight or using anger to put you in your place, their comments can range from irritating to abusive. What’s most infuriating about these people is that they usually don’t see themselves as controlling–only right.

Controllers are often perfectionists. They may feel, “If you want something done right, you have to do it yourself.” Personally, I can relate to this, though I’m getting better at delegating. Controllers are also controlling with themselves. They may fanatically count carbs, become clean freaks or workaholics. Conventional psychiatry classifies extreme cases as Obsessive Compulsive Disorder–people are rigidly preoccupied with details, rules, lists, and dominating others at the expense of flexibility and openness.

QUIZ: AM I IN A RELATIONSHIP WITH A CONTROL FREAK?

  • Does this person keep claiming to know what’s best for you?
  • Do you typically have to do things his way?
  • Is he so domineering you feel suffocated?
  • Do you feel like you’re held prisoner to this person’s rigid sense of order?
  • Is this relationship no fun because it lacks spontaneity?
  • If you answer “yes” to 1-2 questions, it’s likely you’re dealing with a controller. Responding “yes” to 3 or more questions suggests that a controller is violating our emotional freedom.

    Use the following methods from “Emotional Freedom” to deal with controllers

    Emotional Action Step. Pick Your Battles and Assert Your Needs

    1. The secret to success is never try to control a controller
    Speak up, but don’t tell them what to do. Be healthily assertive rather than controlling. Stay confident and refuse to play the victim. Most important, always take a consistent, targeted approach. Controllers are always looking for a power struggle, so try not to sweat the small stuff. Focus on high-priority issues that you really care about rather than bickering about putting the cap on the toothpaste.

    2. Try the caring, direct approach
    Use this with good friends or others who’re responsive to feedback. For instance, if someone dominates conversations, sensitively say, “I appreciate your comments but I’d like to express my opinions too.” The person may be unaware that he or she is monopolizing the discussion, and will gladly change.

    3. Set limits
    If someone keeps telling you how to deal with something, politely say, “I value your advice, but I really want to work through this myself.” You may need to remind the controller several times, always in a kind, neutral tone. Repetition is key. Don’t expect instant miracles. Since controllers rarely give up easily, be patient. Respectfully reiterating your stance over days or weeks will slowly recondition negative communication patterns and redefine the terms of the relationship. If you reach an impasse, agree to disagree. Then make the subject off limits.

    4. Size up the situation
    If your boss is a controlling perfectionist–and you choose to stay–don’t keep ruminating about what a rotten person he or she is or expect that person to change, Then operate within that reality check. For instance, if your boss instructs you how to complete a project, but you add a few good ideas of your own, realize this may or may not fly. If you non-defensively offer your reasoning about the additions, you’ll be more readily heard. However if your boss responds, “I didn’t say to do this. Please remove it,” you must defer because of the built-in status difference in the relationship. Putting your foot down–trying to control the controller—will only make work more stressful or get you fired.

    People who feel out of control tend to become controllers. Deep down, they’re afraid of falling apart, so they micromanage to bind anxiety. They might have had chaotic childhoods, alcoholic parents, or experienced early abandonment, making it hard to trust or relinquish control to others, or to a higher power. Some controllers have a machismo drive to be top dog in both business and personal matters–a mask for their feelings of inadequacy and lack of inner power. To assert territorial prowess, they may get right up in your face when they talk. Even if you take a few steps away, they’ll inch forward again into your space.

    When you mindfully deal with control freaks, you can free yourself from their manipulations. Knowing how they operate will let you choose how to interact with them.

    Adapted from Dr. Judith Orloff’s New York Times Bestseller, “Emotional Freedom: Liberate Yourself From Negative Emotions and Transform Your Life” (Three Rivers Press, 2011)

    7 Signs of a Control Freak

    In one of my previous jobs, I had a boss who was the true definition of a control freak. Everything had to be done his way. I couldn’t make the tiniest decision without first having to run it through him.

    He felt that he had to micromanage all his subordinates down to the smallest detail. He would sometimes dictate the exact template he wanted me to use in my PowerPoint presentations. He was quick to point out whenever I did something wrong.

    At first, I never thought much of it. I assumed that he simply wanted to make sure everything was done perfectly, and being a new employee, I went along with his wishes.

    Unfortunately, the behavior never stopped even after I had been with the company for a while. Eventually, his controlling nature became too exhausting for me. I ended up quitting less than a year after I got hired.

    I’m pretty sure I am not the only one who has encountered a control freak. You will find control freaks everywhere.

    The control freak might be a micromanaging boss like in my case, a controlling best friend, an insecure partner or even the big sister who insists that everything has to be done her way. Being around such people is never a pleasant experience.

    You feel exhausted and suffocated, robbed of your own individuality. The worst part is that most control freaks rarely realize that they are controlling. They often think that they are doing it for the greater good, which can make it quite hard for them to change their behavior.

    Sometimes, it might even be difficult for you to recognize that you are dealing with a control freak.

    So, how do you spot a control freak, and how do you deal with one?

    WHO IS A CONTROL FREAK?

    A control freak can be described as an individual who has a compulsive need to have total control over every aspect of his or her life. The control freak also feels justified in his attempts to control various aspects of the lives of those around him.

    To achieve this, the control freak will undermine and manipulate others with the aim of getting them to do what he or she wants.

    The primary goal of the control freak is to instill total control over their own life. Attempting to control others is a protective measure and a by-product of trying to have everything around them under control.

    Control freaks have a hard time trusting people or delegating tasks to others. They hate surprises.

    They fear that without control, their lives will spiral out of control. If they find themselves in a situation where they are not in control, they tend to go ballistic.

    Since control freaks feel the need to be in control of every aspect of their life, they also have this strong need to control their image.

    Because of this, they might actually acknowledge that they feel the need to be in control of every situation, though they won’t label themselves control freaks.

    Instead, they justify their controlling behaviors by claiming that they are doing what they are doing because they are the only ones competent enough to get things done. They believe that without them, the lives of everyone around them will fall apart.

    In extreme cases, a control freak might be clinically diagnosed to be suffering from obsessive compulsive personality disorder (OCD).

    Such people experience a lot of anxiety just being in the world, something that compels them to try and instill control over everything and everyone around them.

    Unfortunately, this is a futile attempt that makes matters even worse since the world is a dynamic place full of unpredictable twists and turns. It is impossible to achieve total control over life.

    SIGNS OF A CONTROL FREAK

    So, how do you spot a control freak? Below are some of the signs that may signal that someone is too controlling.

    1. Always Correcting People When They Are Wrong

    Control freaks are very averse to mistakes, both in their lives and in the lives of those around them. They don’t tolerate mistakes in their lives and feel compelled to point out and correct the mistakes of those around them. Mistakes make them anxious and angry.

    A controlling person will correct you whenever they have the opportunity. They will let you know if you misspell a word in a text message or pronounce a word wrongly. They will point out if you give an irrational argument.

    If they feel that your social etiquette is a little off, they won’t hesitate to let you know. If you do something wrong or inappropriate, you won’t hear the end of it.

    One thing you need to note about this behavior by control freaks is that they do not do it because they want you to improve.

    Instead, they do it because they believe they are always right, and that things should always be done the right way, which is their way.

    2. They Don’t Delegate

    Control freaks are very poor at delegation. They have a hard time delegating tasks. They will do everything by themselves unless it is virtually impossible for them to do it.

    They believe that they are the most qualified to do something and that they are the only ones who can do it to perfection. They don’t trust others. They believe that the delegated task will not be done satisfactorily, regardless of the expertise of whoever does it. If they do delegate something, they will thoroughly go over it trying to find mistakes.

    If they find a single mistake, they will harshly criticize whoever did the task and overhype their importance. They might say things like “It seems I am the only one in this office who can get things done.”

    3. They Always Want To Have The Last Word

    Control freaks believe they know it all. They believe that they are more practical, intelligent or logical than everyone else. When they get into arguments, they always try to win, because anything else rather than their line of thought is simply wrong.

    In any situation, they want to be the ones to put in the last word. They want to be the ones setting the rules and enforcing them. If they don’t have the final word in a situation, they feel that the situation is unresolved, which can be a great source of angst.

    They want to be the ones to nicely conclude situations with their preferred solution.

    4. They Will Never Admit When They Are Wrong

    This is one of the most annoying traits of a control freak; they will never admit that they have made a mistake. It doesn’t matter how small the mistake is, they will never admit that they did something wrong.

    Instead, they will shift the blame to someone else. This is ironic because they are the same ones who won’t hesitate to chastise anyone else who makes a mistake.

    Since control freaks believe they are always right, admitting to a mistake would bruise their fragile egos, which have to be protected at all costs.

    They think it will make others perceive them as foolish or incompetent if they admit to a mistake.

    5. They Are Poor Team Players

    Working as part of a team means you have to cede some amount of control to the rest of the team. This is a difficult thing for control freaks. They don’t like subordinate roles because such positions deny them the opportunity to exert their rules and controls over the rest of the team.

    If they find themselves as part of a team, they will quickly try to establish themselves as a leader so that they can have the opportunity to dictate the behavior of the rest of the team.

    6. They Are Always Judging And Criticizing Others

    Control freaks are highly judgmental and critical of others. They have opinions about everything, from how people should dress, talk, and eat to how they should live their entire lives.

    Their opinions are taken as fact, and anyone who does not act in accordance with their opinions is met with a lot of criticism. No matter what someone else does, it will never be good enough; they will find a reason to criticize it.

    Their judgmental and critical behavior can make them come across as pious and hypocritical to those who know them well. Control freaks cannot control this behavior. It is instinctive. Demeaning and talking ill about other makes them feel good about themselves.

    This has an adverse effect on their relationships, since they end up pushing people away with their constant judgment and criticism.

    7. They Try Too Hard To Change Others

    Control freaks believe that they are the only ones who know what is best for everyone else. Because of this, they will try as much as possible to get others to do things their way. They will use different manipulation strategies in an attempt to change others.

    They try to micro-manage others to ensure that they act in accordance with their expectations. They will lecture and sometimes become aggressive if you don’t do things their way. They will offer unsolicited “constructive criticism” under the pretense that they care for you and are trying to help, when in real sense they only want to change your behavior to suit their expectations.

    They will paint worst-case scenario to discourage you from doing certain things they don’t approve of. They might even use silent treatment as a passive-aggressive strategy to get you to change your behavior to align with their expectations.

    HOW TO DEAL WITH A CONTROL FREAK

    Being around control freaks can be quite unsettling and unhealthy. Their rigid routines, condescending demeanor, constant advice and manipulation can get on your nerves and even induce stress or depression if unchecked.

    So, what should you do when you find yourself around someone who shows the above signs?

    Below are some tips on how to deal with control a freak.

    Assert Your Boundaries

    Control freaks are usually drawn to people with a victim mentality or a low self-esteem, according to an article by psychiatrist Judith Orloff.

    This is because the control freak knows that he or she will be able to exercise control over such people, who usually have problems setting up and maintaining boundaries. The key to dealing with control freaks, therefore, is to assert your personal boundaries.

    Let the controlling person know that you are your own person who can make your own decisions and that you deceive your privacy.

    Below are some things you can do to assert your personal boundaries when dealing with a control freak:

    • Learn to say no to their whims. Remember, we saw that control freaks will attempt to change your behavior or get you to do things that align with their expectations. If you notice that the person is trying to get you to do things you don’t want, say a firm no, without the need to justify yourself.
    • If they throw tantrums or other emotional behavior because you have stood firm against their pressure, don’t submit to appease them, even if this might be easier.
    • Make your decisions without telling them. Normally, a control freak will want you to tell them about what you plan to do since this gives them an opportunity to influence you. By not telling them what you plan to do, you will be reaffirming the fact that you are an individual who can make your own decisions.
    • If they say something that does not sit well with you, speak your mind clearly and firmly. If the controlling person tries to criticize your choices, be assertive and stand firm in your choice. For instance, a controlling friend might try to get you to buy a shoe that you don’t like. In such an instance, you might say, “I appreciate your opinion, but I like the other shoe better.”

    Control freaks don’t give up easily, so you might need to be patient and keep repeating this until the controlling person reconditions themselves to the redefined terms of the relationship.

    Avoid Arguing With Them

    Trying to argue with a control freak will never work. Control freaks believe that they are always right. They are experts when it comes to justifying themselves, and they always try to win every argument.

    Bringing up an argument will only make matters worse, since you cannot possibly out-argue them. If you find yourself in a disagreement with a control freak, state you position without trying to justify it.

    If they demand a reason behind your position, give them a reason that cannot possibly be argued.

    For example, if your controlling friend wants you the both of you to go to the park but you think it’s not a good idea today, simply say something like, “I’m sorry, but I don’t feel like going to the park today.”

    If you try to explain why going to the park is not a good idea today, you will get into an argument that will be difficult for you to win, and one that will leave you feeling drained.

    Maintain Your Calm

    Sometimes, a person’s controlling behaviors can get on your nerves to the extent that you feel like you should scream at them.

    Unfortunately, getting angry at the control freak will not make things any better. Getting angry will show the control freak that he or she is getting to you, which will only make them determined to control you.

    In addition, getting upset will make the control freak perceive you as a weak person who can be controlled. By giving such an impression, you will be encouraging them to target you.

    To avoid this, you should maintain your calm when dealing with a controlling person. Simply stand your ground firmly without losing your cool.

    Don’t Respond To Escalating Behavior

    As you continue standing up to a control freak, they will start losing their grip over you, which will make them even more anxious. In an attempt to regain their control over you, the control freak will increase their pressure though more manipulative behaviors.

    If the control freak is a romantic partner, for example, he or she might give you the silent treatment, ignoring your calls and texts and acting moody when you are together.

    In extreme cases, he or she might even stop having sex with you in an attempt to get you back under their control. If the control freak is your boss, he or she might ignore your suggestions at work or try to badmouth you to superiors.

    Your best bet in this situation is to remain impassive to their mounting pressure. Don’t escalate your emotions since this will only encourage them.

    By remaining impassive, you will be making it clear to them that you are no longer under their control.

    Seek Help If Necessary

    If you feel that the control freak’s behavior is having adverse effects either on your work or your relationship, you should consider seeking outside help. If the control freak is your colleague at work, seek the help of a supervisor and manager.

    When doing this, remember to keep matters objective. From the very onset of the conversation, make it clear to your manager that your intent is to resolve the situation rather than to cause disharmony at work.

    Let them know that the controlling and manipulative behaviors of your controlling colleague are making it difficult for you to work productively. You can also provide any possible solutions you feel might remedy the situation.

    If the control freak is a friend, a relative or a romantic partner, you should seek the help of friends or family.

    Let them know what you are going through at the hands of the controlling person. The friends or family can then help come up with solutions to remedy the situation.

    The important thing here is that you should let someone else know about the control freak in your life if you feel that their controlling tendencies have started affecting you adversely.

    Avoid The Person Or Walk Away

    Being around a control freak is not healthy for you, and try as you might, sometimes it becomes clear that nothing you do will change this person’s controlling tendencies. In such a situation, your best bet might be to avoid the person or walk away.

    Of course, your decision to avoid the control freak or walk away will depend on who the person is and the kind of relationship between the two of you. If the control freak is someone in your family, it might be impossible to completely walk away.

    The best solution in this case is to try and avoid them as much as possible. Stay out of their way unless it’s completely necessary for you two to interact.

    If the person is a romantic partner, walk away from the relationship. Staying with such a person can lead to an abusive relationship or even violence.

    Just let them know that you need a break from the relationship and move on with your life. Avoiding a control freak becomes a much more difficult thing if you work together, and especially if he is your boss.

    If the person is a colleague from another department, you can try minimizing your interactions. If you can’t avoid interacting with them, this might be difficult for you, and the best bet is to seek the help of superiors.

    However, if the behavior persists and it is clear that there is nothing you can do, it might make sense to look for employment elsewhere.

    For instance, in my case, I decide to quit and look for another job because my superior was a control freak.

    It is better to find a new job instead of getting stressed and depressed because of working under a controlling boss.

    WRAPPING UP

    It is inevitable that at one point in life you will come across a person who will try to exert their control over your life.

    They will criticize you, belittle your opinions, try to get you to change your behavior and try to micromanage your life.

    Being around such people can be unhealthy, and in extreme cases, it can even result in a lot of stress. Fortunately, being around a control freak does not mean that you need to give in to his or her whims and expectations.

    If you notice someone displaying any of the above signs that might indicate that he or she is a control freak, you can take the steps described in the article to get from their controlling grip and make life easier for the both of you.

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    How to Deal with the Control Freak Before They Ruin You

    Whether in a relationship or workplace, a control freak can make your life unbearable. They are generally toxic people. A control freak tries to control all aspects of your life and in many cases, they try to do it in a negative way that makes your life reasonable. One thing to keep in mind that someone who is a control freak is very hard to change, so you may have to develop coping mechanisms that will help you minimize their control over your life.

    While you could always walk away from a toxic relationship, there are cases where you may need to stand your ground. Perhaps you have a well paying job or there are kids at stake in the relationship. In this case, you will have to manage the problem decisively and effectively in managing the person’s controlling behaviour. A control freak’s actions should never be a daily feature of your life and there are ways to ensure that doesn’t happen.

    Identifying a Control Freak

    It can actually be difficult sometimes to identify a control freak – anyone can be one and they look just like you or I. They can be a family member, a spouse or child, a boss or work colleague or even just someone that you associate with casually. Sometimes they are obvious, like an overbearing boss or a new friend who has a million opinions about the smallest things. Sometimes it may be more subtle, especially if they have been in your life for a long time – like a spouse, and have slowly developed into being a control freak. No matter who it is, they are a bit like leeches – they may seem harmless but once they latch on they will not stop until they have you at their beck and call.

    Controlling the Control Freak

    The fact is, people find it difficult to be around control freaks – they are beyond annoying, and if you have ever tried to get something done around them then you will know how frustrating it can be. A seemingly simple task suddenly escalates into something huge and burdensome, and something that you may have previously enjoyed becomes unnecessarily stressful. You could simply disassociate completely with the control freak in question, but sometimes that is just not an option, especially if it is a family member or someone close to you. And if moving countries or changing careers is not an option, then you are going to have to control the control freak yourself. Your livelihood and happiness depends on it! Of course by controlling the control freak, we do not mean become as bad as they are, but rather control the situation so it does not affect you, or even worse … ruin you.

    Steps to deal with a control freak

    So you have identified who the control freak in your life is, and you have decided that it is time to put a stop to it before it affects your life. What exactly are the best ways of approaching them? You have probably told them to their faces that they are a control freak (or perhaps not if you are truly terrified of them), but unfortunately this rarely, if ever, works as a solution. Here are some tips on dealing with a control freak:-

    Be Assertive Without Arguing

    Just like bullies, control freaks feed on your shyness and lack of confidence. They love nothing more than for you to silently do what they say and to more or less submit to them. On the same note, be assertive without arguing. Arguing is pointless to a control freak – even if you are right and have a completely valid point, a control freak will not be willing to listen to reason. As far as they are concerned, their way is the only way so all arguing is going to do is … well start an argument. And it is unlikely you will win. Stand up for yourself and make it clear that you will not be walked over – if you do this enough, chances are it will become less fun for them to try to control you.

    Don’t Take it Personally

    Quite possibly, the control freak is that way because of who they are, rather than because of who you are. Usually, people don’t becomes control freaks because they dislike someone else or because of something that someone else has done to them – rather due to their own insecurities or perceived lack of self control. So do not take it personally and see it as an attack on yourself – chances are if they are a control freak towards you, then they are exactly the same to others. They are simply flawed human beings. Not taking it personally may not stop them being so controlling, but it can certainly stop it from affecting you as much.

    Do not try to change them – adapt

    This piece of advice could be the hardest to adopt, yet it most likely going to bring about the greatest level of satisfaction for yourself. You need to understand that you cannot change them. It is part of who they are – chances are they themselves know they are control freaks and would love to be more relaxed, but chances are you are not going to be the one to change them and trying to will only end in heartache and frustration and will end up helping nobody. Rather, adapt to the situation. Sometimes the best way to deal with a control freak, is to not deal with them. If it is a boss or colleague, no matter how much you love your job, unless you change something, then you will never be happy. If you can’t stand to leave your job, see if you can be moved internally. If the control freak is a relative or friend, then distancing yourself from some things can make a world of difference. If your sister is overbearing to shop with, then spend less time shopping and more time doing something else.

    Find the positives

    Finally, if you can, find a positive aspect about the control freak in question. They’re not evil or bad people, and by focusing on the good, perhaps the controlling side will make them easier to tolerate especially if they are people you love. Get them away from situations which tempt them to be controlling and have fun with them, or have a quality conversation which is two sided – it will be just as beneficial for them as it will be for you. If they are people you care people, harnessing positivity can help alleviate the worst aspects of their controlling behaviour.

    The key to managing a control freak is holding your ground and being very firm otherwise they will run roughshod over you. Control freaks often express their control over you by belittling or condescending you so standing your ground very firmly and decisively will inflict a psychological damage on their controlling tendencies.

    Be very firm and direct. If you are not a person who is always this way, learn and adopt this approach specifically for the control freak. Whenever their controlling tendencies get outrageous, push back just as strongly and firmly. With time, they will begin to beat back a retreat. They might adopt a passive-aggressive posture rather than steamrolling over you which can be more bearable if you have been a victim of their outrage.

    5 Effective Ways to Deal With the Office Control Freak

    I wouldn’t do it that way. Why don’t you try this? What are you doing? That’s not right. Don’t do that. Do this.

    Sound familiar? They’re all phrases you’ve likely heard from the notorious control freak in your office. And, while you’ve somehow managed to continue trucking along without snapping, you’re getting dangerously close to the end of your rope.

    Whether you have a control-obsessed boss or a ridiculously overbearing co-worker, we’ve all had to work with someone who has a “my way or the highway” sort of attitude. Of course, dealing with this person isn’t easy—but it’s also pretty much inevitable.

    So, take a deep breath. You definitely can manage to tolerate this person—without constantly clenching your jaw and balling up your fists. Here are five steps that’ll help you not only cope with this controlling colleague, but also get some great work done in the process!

    1. Recognize Pure Intentions

    When you’re dealing with someone who seems to want to micromanage every small detail of every single project, it can be tough to see him or her as anything more than meddling and obnoxious. But, recognizing the positive attributes of this person’s work ethic will make working with him or her at least a little bit easier.

    Let’s face it—this person probably doesn’t behave this way to purposely annoy you or make your job more difficult. Instead, he’s just incredibly passionate about the work he does and wants it to be as polished and professional as it can be. That dedication makes him a great employee—even if his approach is a bit overwhelming and aggravating.

    Of course, while it’s great to recognize and appreciate this control freak’s enthusiasm and drive, that doesn’t mean he or she gets to dictate every part of every project. But, making an effort to accept that his or her motivations are good will make the next steps easier.

    2. Ask Questions

    How do others in your office typically respond to this pushy and controlling colleague? Does anybody ever say anything? Or, does everybody just roll over without ever standing their ground?

    Chances are, if this person is still firing out orders, very few (if any) people in your workplace have made an attempt to refute the demands. So, instead of just accepting this person’s directions and criticisms and then muttering under your breath, it’s time for you to encourage a thoughtful conversation about the course of your project.

    How do you do this? By following up his or her demands with questions. Let’s say your meddling co-worker spies over your shoulder as you’re drafting a report. She immediately jumps in and says, “You’re structuring that report wrong. Do it this way!” Follow up by saying something along the lines of, “I know that we don’t have a standard template in place for these documents. This process works really well for me, but I’d love to hear the benefits of your method.”

    She might be a little taken aback by your forwardness, but she’ll have no option but to explain her reasoning and open up a dialogue about the project. Who knows—she might even have some great ideas you can use. Plus, incorporating a few pieces of her feedback will help to placate her. Bonus!

    3. Voice Your Opinions

    We all know that control freaks tend to think their methods and tactics are superior to everyone else’s. But, you’re still entitled to some self-direction and independence. So, if you flat out disagree with his or her direction, don’t hesitate to speak up.

    If the controlling person you’re dealing with is a co-worker on the same level as you, you’ll likely have an easier time doing this. Explain why you chose the process you’re using—but, don’t feel a need to justify every single one of your choices. That only opens up an entirely new can of worms by making it look like you need a stamp of approval on everything you do. Ultimately, if that piece of the project is yours to work on, you have the right to approach it as you see fit.

    Things get a little trickier if the control freak is your boss, though. Of course, you’re still free to share your ideas and opinions. But it’s probably better to couch them with, “I started doing it this way because…” If your reasoning’s valid and still getting the desired result, it’ll be harder for your boss to respond with, “Well, still, do it my way.” However, your supervisor ultimately has final say on the way you get things done. So, you might just have to suck it up and move forward with his or her instructions.

    4. Avoid Arguing

    Trust me, I know that dealing with a control freak can be a really aggravating experience. And, sometimes he or she winds up so blinded by conviction that a productive, balanced conversation becomes next to impossible.

    But, at all costs, you want to avoid getting into a heated argument. If it becomes obvious that you’re not going to reach any common ground, it’s time to walk away. I don’t need to tell you that screaming over each other will get you nowhere.

    5. Request Mediation

    When it becomes obvious that you’ll just never be able to agree on something, it’s time to enlist some help. If you’re on a level playing field where neither one of you has the upper hand or a final say on the project, you need to approach a superior to mediate the situation.

    Yes, it seems a little childish, and you’d like to avoid this step at all costs. But, if you’re not making any progress, it’s essential. Set a meeting with your boss or supervisor where you and the other employee can each present your case. Then, your manager can decide which method he thinks is best—or even pull pieces from both of your ideas to reach a compromise.

    Regardless of the outcome of this meeting, you need to accept the decision and move forward. So, that means no sticking your tongue out and lording your victory over your co-worker. It also means no under-your-breath muttering if things don’t go your way.

    I’ve totally been there—dealing with your office’s control freak comes with its fair share of battles, headaches, and tense moments. But, it’s definitely still doable. So, take a deep breath, follow these steps, and prepare to handle that person with poise and professionalism.

    Photo of people working courtesy of .

    “I wouldn’t do it that way. Why don’t you try this? What are you doing? That’s not right. Don’t do that. Do this.” Sound familiar? They’re all phrases you’ve likely heard from the notorious control freak in your office. And, while you’ve somehow managed to continue trucking along without snapping, you’re getting dangerously close to the end of your rope.

    This post originally appeared on The Muse.

    Whether you have a control-obsessed boss or a ridiculously overbearing coworker, we’ve all had to work with someone who has a “my way or the highway” sort of attitude. Of course, dealing with this person isn’t easy—but it’s also pretty much inevitable.

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    So, take a deep breath. You definitely can manage to tolerate this person—without constantly clenching your jaw and balling up your fists. Here are five steps that’ll help you not only cope with this controlling colleague, but also get some great work done in the process.

    When you’re dealing with someone who seems to want to micromanage every small detail of every single project, it can be tough to see him or her as anything more than meddling and obnoxious. But, recognizing the positive attributes of this person’s work ethic will make working with him or her at least a little bit easier.

    Let’s face it—this person probably doesn’t behave this way to purposely annoy you or make your job more difficult. Instead, he’s just incredibly passionate about the work he does and wants it to be as polished and professional as it can be. That dedication makes him a great employee—even if his approach is a bit overwhelming and aggravating.

    Of course, while it’s great to recognize and appreciate this control freak’s enthusiasm and drive, that doesn’t mean he or she gets to dictate every part of every project. But, making an effort to accept that his or her motivations are good will make the next steps easier.

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    How do others in your office typically respond to this pushy and controlling colleague? Does anybody ever say anything? Or, does everybody just roll over without ever standing their ground?

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    Chances are, if this person is still firing out orders, very few (if any) people in your workplace have made an attempt to refute the demands. So, instead of just accepting this person’s directions and criticisms and then muttering under your breath, it’s time for you to encourage a thoughtful conversation about the course of your project.

    How do you do this? By following up his or her demands with questions. Let’s say your meddling coworker spies over your shoulder as you’re drafting a report. She immediately jumps in and says, “You’re structuring that report wrong. Do it this way!” Follow up by saying something along the lines of, “I know that we don’t have a standard template in place for these documents. This process works really well for me, but I’d love to hear the benefits of your method.”

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    She might be a little taken aback by your forwardness, but she’ll have no option but to explain her reasoning and open up a dialogue about the project. Who knows—she might even have some great ideas you can use. Plus, incorporating a few pieces of her feedback will help to placate her. Bonus!

    We all know that control freaks tend to think their methods and tactics are superior to everyone else’s. But, you’re still entitled to some self-direction and independence. So, if you flat out disagree with his or her direction, don’t hesitate to speak up.

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    If the controlling person you’re dealing with is a coworker on the same level as you, you’ll likely have an easier time doing this. Explain why you chose the process you’re using—but, don’t feel a need to justify every single one of your choices. That only opens up an entirely new can of worms by making it look like you need a stamp of approval on everything you do. Ultimately, if that piece of the project is yours to work on, you have the right to approach it as you see fit.

    Things get a little trickier if the control freak is your boss, though. Of course, you’re still free to share your ideas and opinions. But it’s probably better to couch them with, “I started doing it this way because…” If your reasoning’s valid and still getting the desired result, it’ll be harder for your boss to respond with, “Well, still, do it my way.” However, your supervisor ultimately has final say on the way you get things done. So, you might just have to suck it up and move forward with his or her instructions.

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    Trust me, I know that dealing with a control freak can be a really aggravating experience. And, sometimes he or she winds up so blinded by conviction that a productive, balanced conversation becomes next to impossible.

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    But, at all costs, you want to avoid getting into a heated argument. If it becomes obvious that you’re not going to reach any common ground, it’s time to walk away. I don’t need to tell you that screaming over each other will get you nowhere.

    When it becomes obvious that you’ll just never be able to agree on something, it’s time to enlist some help. If you’re on a level playing field where neither one of you has the upper hand or a final say on the project, you need to approach a superior to mediate the situation.

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    Yes, it seems a little childish, and you’d like to avoid this step at all costs. But, if you’re not making any progress, it’s essential. Set a meeting with your boss or supervisor where you and the other employee can each present your case. Then, your manager can decide which method he thinks is best—or even pull pieces from both of your ideas to reach a compromise.

    Regardless of the outcome of this meeting, you need to accept the decision and move forward. So, that means no sticking your tongue out and lording your victory over your coworker. It also means no under-your-breath muttering if things don’t go your way.

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    I’ve totally been there—dealing with your office’s control freak comes with its fair share of battles, headaches, and tense moments. But, it’s definitely still doable. So, take a deep breath, follow these steps, and prepare to handle that person with poise and professionalism.

    5 Effective Ways to Deal With the Office Control Freak | The Muse

    Kat is a Midwest-based freelance writer, covering topics related to careers, self-development, and the freelance life. In addition to writing for The Muse, she’s also the Career Editor for The Everygirl, a columnist for Inc., and a contributor all over the web. Say hi on Twitter @kat_boogaard or check out her website.

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    Photo by John Hult via Unsplash.

    How to Deal With a Bossy Coworker

    Chances are, you’ve experienced a coworker who can’t resist the urge to tell you how to do your job. Micromanagement is bad enough when it comes from a manager, but it’s even worse coming from a peer. A bossy coworker can make life in the workplace frustrating and even difficult.

    Controlling, bossy people are annoying and frustrating, but with the right mindset and the right attitude you can deal with them effectively. Here are some techniques that can help:

    Stay calm.

    It can be frustrating and upsetting to be told what to do or have someone take over for you. But it’s important that you stay in control of your temper. Bossy people thrive on getting a strong reaction that allows them to be a victim: “I was only trying to help, and they came after me like I’d done something wrong!”

    Be direct.

    To manage your bossy colleague you’re going to have to say something direct and assertive. Take a calm, professional tone and keep your discussion short and succinct. Avoid making a scene and make sure you stay calm and respectful. You might want to explain how their behavior is affecting you, avoiding blaming and sticking to “I” statements, and let them know you want it to stop.

    Don’t take it personally.

    Remember that your coworker’s behavior is not about you, and don’t allow their words or behavior to affect you personally. It’s all about them wanting to feel important and in control–you’re just the person who happens to be within reach.

    Just ignore them.

    In some situations–especially if the bad behavior persists despite your best efforts–it may be best to try ignoring it. If you can brush off your coworker’s bad behavior and just ignore them, you may derail their strategy. If nothing else, you can at least save your own peace of mind.

    Set healthy boundaries.

    Be consistent in asserting your own boundaries. Don’t react to attempts at bossiness but learn to respond by asserting your boundaries so people know not to cross them.

    Seek additional support.

    Enlist the help of your supervisor or a human resources manager if your colleague’s behavior is interfering with your work. Ask other coworkers who are frustrated with the control freak to support you if your manager resists taking action.

    Lead by example.

    Faced with a bossy, domineering coworker–or any difficult person in any area of your life–be the change you wish to see. Model the way you would want to be treated; always speak politely and act with respect.

    A bossy, difficult coworker is an unpleasant addition to any workplace. But if you can manage them with calm, firm resistance, in a way of learning patience, and feeling yourself compassion towards them, you can minimize the frustration.

    How to Deal with a Control Freak in a Relationship

    Who are Control Freaks?

    You’ve definitely heard the term “control freak” at least once in your life. And if you never bothered checking it out, it’s time for you to learn what is a control freak. While you may have thought that a control freak is just a certain manner of behavior, in reality, it has much more to do with psychology and disorders. Oops, guess you’ve never heard of control freak personality disorder. Well, the term that describes a person who attempts to dictate how everything should be done is actually a psychology-related slang. Don’t worry, control freak is not a clinical term. Thus, being a control freak doesn’t mean being insane.

    Okay, now you know that being a control freak doesn’t mean being a cuckoo, unless the control freak exhibits antisocial behavior. Still, if you ever worked or lived with a control freak, you sure know that it’s not the most pleasant experience. So, let’s find out what kind of disorder is it by digging into the psychology of control freak.

    They need to control everything. They correct you if you’ve said or done something wrong. They feel the constant need to control everything. A lot of people working or being in a relationship with control freaks complain that they feel like they don’t have enough air to breathe when their working or romantic partners are around. To find out the reasons behind their behavior, we first need to check out the four types of personality disorders that can be linked to being a control freak.

    Types of Personality Disorders Behind Control Freak-ness

    1. Antisocial Personality Disorder

    Control freaks with the antisocial personality disorder display an enormous sense of self-worth. This type of control freaks often has a very shallow personality, and the sense of self-worth comes from their glibness. They mostly lack feelings of remorse and empathy, and as a result, they tend to pull others into fulfilling their desires.

    2. Histrionic Personality Disorder

    The main purpose of this kind of control freaks is being the center of attention. Control freaks with histrionic personality disorder draw people in, and as a result, use them to their own advantage. Romantic partners of these control freaks often suffer, as being in a relationship with a person with histrionic personality disorder requires following all the rules of the partner and acting like you are in a relationship with the best person in the world.

    3. Narcissistic Personality Disorder

    Those with the narcissistic personality disorder have a deep sense of self-importance. They often display hypersensitivity to criticism. Don’t you dare tell a control freak with a narcissistic personality disorder that they are wrong or deserve less than they think, as their sense of entitlement makes them think that they deserve only the best. And if they cannot control you, you are unlikely to hang with them for a quite long time.

    Sings of Control Freak in a Relationship

    Everything mentioned above clearly shows that control freaks are unlikely those people you would be happy to meet. Maybe while reading about control freaks, you might have recognized your boss or, even worse, your partner. In the case you are still unsure whether your partner is a control freak or not, look no further, as we’ve collected signs of a control freak in a relationship.

    1. Correcting You When You Are Wrong

    At first, you may think that it’s quite cool when your partner is correcting you when you are saying something wrong. It can be your spelling, your pronunciation. While at the party you are saying that something had happened a year ago, and your partner is correcting you publicly that it had happened two years ago. Quite cute, right? Your partner doesn’t want you to make mistakes. Although he could do that in private, right? Especially, when your partner gets publicly hysterical about your manners. Unfortunately, these are the warning signs of a control freak. Most likely your partner has a histrionic personality disorder, which means that public opinion is much more important to him or her, as he or she needs to be a centre of attention. How can your partner be a centre of attention if you have bad manners or you don’t remember the details of your last date as perfectly as he or she does?

    2. When You’re Having An Argument Your Partner Always Tries To Win

    When you are having an argument, your partner always tries to win or have the last word? Your partner is the smartest and the most logical, so how can you argue with him or her? But every time you have an argument, your partner must have the last word. In trying to win over the argument, your partner may become absolutely illogical. Your partner gets highly upset when lacking arguments against you? Congratulations, this is one of the signs that your girlfriend or boyfriend is a control freak.

    3. Refusing To Admit That He/She Is Wrong

    Your partner is getting upset when you win the argument, as it means that he or she is wrong. That’s one of the control freak symptoms. Mind that you can’t be both wrong or both right. Ideally, your partner is always right, and you are always wrong. But whenever things go otherwise, your partner will do everything possible to omit to admit that he or she is wrong.

    4. Criticizing Others

    One of the most typical signs of a control freak is constantly judging others. Yep, your partner may not clearly see how to change something in his or her life, but they clearly see when other do something wrong in their lives. Your partner doesn’t like his or her work and does not attempt to change it, but he or she will dwell on how others should change their job immediately after feeling bored with it.

    That’s only a tip of the iceberg of signs and symptoms of a control freak, but that’s quite enough to tell whether your partner is one or not. One thing you need to understand, that control freaks are behaving that way not because they are evil or something. The main reason behind their behavior is their vulnerability. Most of the control freaks are perfectionists who survived the angst in their childhood. As a result, they feel the need to control everything, as they believe that otherwise, they will experience their childhood angst once again.

    Perhaps without our explanation of the main reason behind control freaks’ behavior, you might have already left your partner. Basically, it goes like take it or leave it. But when it comes to relationships, we often think that we can save our partner from their anxiety. If you want to keep a relationship with a control freak boyfriend or girlfriend, you need to know how to deal with them. So, if you think that you are strong, check out our tips on how to deal with a control freak.

    1. Realize It’s All About Anxiety

    Dating a control freak can be exhausting. Most often that kind of romantic relationship ends up in a breakup. If you want to change something and save your relationship, you can’t take any further steps without realizing that your partner’s behavior is predetermined by anxiety. Otherwise, you are going to be offended all the time by your partner’s actions, and all of your attempts to deal with it will fall flat on their face.

    2. Talk about Your Parent’s Anxiety

    Instead of getting annoyed with your partner’s actions, ask him what he or she is worried about. That’s why you need to realize that it’s all about the anxiety when dealing with a control freak. Of course, at first your partner will try to reject the fact that he or she is worried about something (remember, they are mostly perfectionists), but in the end, you will have a straightforward talk about his or her anxiety. And your relationship will only benefit from it, as your partner will stop thinking about you as of someone inferior to him or her. And your relationship is going to get better as soon as your partner starts thinking of you as of someone on the same level as he or she is.

    3. Give Them Your Opinion on What You Partner Should Change

    Once again, your partner is unlikely going to listen to your advice at first. Mind that your advice should be as logical as possible. In the end, your partner will accept your advice, and if his or her life is going to get better after following your advice, they will be extremely grateful, and your relationship is most likely to change forever.

    4. Tell Your Partner What You Don’t Like About Your Relationship

    When you are living with a control freak, there is no place for hints. You need to be as straightforward as possible. So, when you don’t like something about your relationship, tell it in right away. You don’t like your boyfriend or your girlfriend discussing you with his or her friends and then bringing their opinions to you? Let your partner know it right away. If you keep silent, it would mean that you’ve accepted the rules of your partner’s game and you agree with everything.

    5. Set Your Own Limits

    If you decided to stay in a relationship with a control freak, you need to set your own limits. If you want to build a normal partnership, stop tossing and turning the way your partner wants you. You need to decide for yourself what is acceptable and what is not. As soon as you’ve decided, you need to settle the matter straight with your partner.

    Living with a Critical Control Freak

    I receive emails and letters with increasing frequency about abusive control issues and criticism in marriage. Marriages are failing at enormous rates, partially because of a lack of warmth and safety.

    When it comes to criticism, it seems we have 20/20 vision—about our mate’s behavior. When it comes to our own faults and foibles, we have myopia.

    This is not a new problem. In one of Jesus’ earliest sermons, he addressed this issue:

    “Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your won eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck in your brother’s eye.” (Matthew 7: 3-5)

    A recent email from our Message Board indicates this problem:

    Dr. Hawkins, I have been married to my husband for just over 2 years and I left him in April of this year. He was a ‘control freak’ and I helped him excel in it. He criticized everything I did and nothing I did ever pleased him. I eventually lost myself because I was trying so hard to be what he needed. He verbally abused me & my son almost daily, with small issues. He is just a negative person. Now I have left and am pregnant 5 months. I do not miss him, I do not like and am not in love with him and I do not want to go back but we do need to maintain a relationship for this child’s sake. I stay in prayer but just do not know what to do. My husband remains bitter, blames me for everything and does not see his fault in any of this. How can I communicate with such a person? Help! Thank you for taking the time to read & respond.

    It is easy to empathize with this woman. Who hasn’t been in a relationship with a controlling person, only to feel smaller and more worthless? The Control Freak finds it easy to criticize and find fault, often over such minor things. As Jesus said, “the speck of sawdust” in someone’s eye.

    Sadly, the ultimate result in a controlling relationship is, as this reader said, a loss of self. One cannot thrive and grow in an atmosphere of criticism. One cannot feel safe to be who they were called to be when constantly criticized. Criticism in this manner is abusive and violent.

    What can you do if you’re in a relationship with a controlling person? What can we say to this woman, who now wonders how to let go of bitterness? Is there a way to communicate so he will have insight into his own actions?

    First, controlling people often do not have an understanding of the impact of their behavior on others. Because of their rampant denial, it usually takes some emergency or crisis before they realize the damage they have done. People often don’t have a breakthrough until they’ve had a breakdown.

    Second, you can be part of that breakdown. In other words, you can stop enabling this destructive behavior. Quit trying to make him admit he’s controlling. Stop explaining your actions or defending yourself. Stop engaging with him in the destructive dance. Let him know you will not participate with him in any critical discussions unless there are boundaries in place so they don’t become “complaint sessions.”

    Third, stop trying to please him or others. It is easy, with a Control Freak, to try to please them, though always falling short. We must not get hooked in the struggle of trying to please others. We must keep our focus on the Lord and what He wants from us. Approval addiction only hurts us and enables others to control us.

    Fourth, if you are to remain in relationship with him, for the child’s sake, make sure you set boundaries on him controlling you through your child. Your relationship must be business-like, and focused on the needs of the child. Don’t let him manipulate you into other personal discussions.

    Finally, should you desire to work things out with him, insist on wise couples counseling. I suggest you consider going back to him only under the supervision of someone who knows about his control issues, as well as your codependency traits. You both need to be accountable to someone for learning new skills, including taking responsibility for actions.

    While this situation looks bleak, one person can have a tremendous impact on a relationship. If one person refuses to participate in criticisms, bickering and control, the dance must change. When we develop firm, healthy boundaries, others often learn to treat us with greater respect. This can happen for you as you learn to treat yourself and others with the respect they deserve.

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