Dealing With Control Freaks

If you’re forced to deal regularly with a control freak then this can be a very tiring and testing situation. Control freaks are the sort of people that need to do everything themselves and plan everything down to a T, or that interfere in everything you do and enforce sometimes unreasonable rules.

If your partner is a control freak then, you are likely to find that they tell you off for the way you cook, or clean or fold your clothes, and maybe even that they try to tell you what to wear. When you head on holiday with them you’ll find you have a whole itinerary of what you are going to do and that you do end up sticking to it. Likewise at work you will probably find that they lean over you while you’re working to make sure you work in the precise way that they see fit, and that they are very strict on protocol and make sure that you put the write letters in your subject headings etc. You will probably find yourself being chided for petty errors and creatively stifled because of their input.

Of course it’s easy to lose your temper in such cases and shout at the controlling personality. However doing so is not going to solve the situation – rather it is more likely to simply exacerbate it and cause a rift between you and your partner. It’s your job then to make sure that you deal with control freaks in a way that is fair and that doesn’t escalate a bad situation. Here we will look at some tips that will help you to do just that.

Be Sympathetic

First of all, make sure that you are sympathetic to their plight and don’t take this as a personal dig or as something they are doing vindictively. These people aren’t just control freaks with you – they’re likely to be control freaks in every area of their lives and are probably quite obsessed with doing things by the book in general. They are likely to feel genuinely frustrated when things seem out of their control, and when things aren’t being done the way they want to – so it’s not an aggressive behavior but rather something that they have to live with. In other words they are victims here and it is very hard for an anal personality to sit by and watch someone screw up their clothes or fill in a form incorrectly. Think of things that frustrate you or that get you stressed and then imagine what it would be like to feel this way as often as someone controlling and suddenly you might feel more inclined to just go along with their requests. In many cases control freaks are actually looking out for you and trying to help, so don’t bite their heads off.

Don’t Take it Personally

Part of the problems with control freaks is that they have to have everything done a certain way – and that means that they have to do everything themselves or closely monitor other people’s performances. If you are on the receiving end of this though then it can feel a lot like criticism and this then can make it easy to get upset and let it damage your self esteem if you’re around it all the time. Just remember though that it’s not personal and that it’s their problem that’s causing them to act that way. They’re the same with everyone and most likely in every day situations too – they probably get very frustrated watching television and very frustrated playing computer games etc etc. In other words then – it’s not about you and there’s no reason to get upset as a result.

Be Firm

However that said you can’t take an entirely passive stance or you’ll end up just taking a lot of criticism and bending all your decisions and behavior to suit them. In other words you can’t always just turn the other cheek to someone who is highly critical, you need to be yourself and to be firm from time to time. So know where your ‘line’ is and tell them firmly (not harshly) when they’re crossing it. Something short and sharp like ‘don’t talk to me like that please’ or ‘I don’t like your tone’ will usually cut them off and get them to re-assess their approach. Once they know how far they can take it with you they will know not to cross that barrier again and so another important tip is also to be consistent.

Turn it Into a Joke

You want the controlling personality to be aware of what they are doing and how they are making others (namely yourself) feel. It’s important to make sure that they know what they sound like and are aware of the problem or they’re unlikely to improve. However that said there’s a good chance they are going to be quite sensitive on this topic and there’s a chance that telling them outright could go down badly. A good strategy then is to point out their controlling nature but in a fun way that makes it into something of a joke – tease them about always needing to be in control and this will make them more aware of the problem and hopefully start to catch themselves doing it. This is particularly important in relationships or in the work place as you still want to maintain your relationship with that person and not cause a rift over it.

Take Them Out of the Situation

Some situations are entirely avoidable. For instance many people are controlling in the kitchen and this can lead to a lot of arguments for couples. If your partner is one of those people, then the best thing to do is to simply remove them from the kitchen when they’re not cooking. If you’ve addressed the issue in a jokey manner then just politely explain that they’re ruining your cooking-mojo and that you’d like it to be a surprise for them. If they’re not watching the cooking then they won’t be able to feel on edge.

Give Them Control

In other scenarios you can of course just give them control and there are many situations where you would likely have no problem with relinquishing responsibility. For instance if you are cooking and they keep pestering then simply let them take over and go and watch some TV. Likewise in the workplace if a colleague is on your back about how you’re doing something then just say they’re free to do it themselves. They have two choices – do it themselves, or let you do it as you are.

Another good strategy is to give them a semblance of control, not actual control. For instance give them a portion of the activity to be in control of. If you are cooking then you could get them to mash and peel, or if you’re driving then let them navigate. This way you give them something else to focus their attention on and this way they won’t be as concerned with what you’re doing. You can also use this opportunity in order to benefit from their nature – they are control freaks likely because they are perfectionists and this means that if you can hand something over to them then they will be likely to do a great job. The overall product then will have benefited from your using their skills in an effective way.

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