Being in the company of a control freak is never easy or pleasant, whether it's a bossy best friend of yours, a boss who cares about all the details, or an older sister who always wants her way. Sometimes you cannot avoid such a person and then it is necessary that you learn how to deal with his or her behavior, otherwise you will become completely crazy about such a person. Keeping calm, understanding where the behavior is coming from, and avoiding the situation with such a person whenever you can are the most important things you can do when dealing with a control freak. If you want to learn more about how to deal with a control freak, skip to Step 1 to get started right away.
Method 1 of 4: Understanding the need for control
Step 1. Try to understand why someone is a control freak
People who suffer from this tendency have a need to control results and also to exert control over others. They don't feel like they're in control, so they want to control someone else. They are terrified of failure, especially their own, and they are unable to foresee the consequences when things go wrong. There is a deep-seated fear about their own limitations (which are often unexamined), they are often afraid that they will not be respected, and they do not trust others to do as they are asked.
- The control freak does not rely on someone else to perform a task better than themselves. And in an age where we're constantly being told what to do, without being told exactly why (think of all the rules, laws, and warnings we deal with every day), the control freak likes to step into the space that thereby created. He then pretends to be the only figure with authority, whether or not he understands the situation properly (and unfortunately he often doesn't).
- The core qualities of a control freak or boss include a lack of trust in others, a need to criticize others, a sense of superiority (arrogance), and a thirst for power. They also often feel they have a right to things that other people may not be entitled to, and they feel they don't have to spend time with others when they're expected to or respect others.
Step 2. See if the control freak needs help
Sometimes someone is just a control freak, but there are times when the need for control goes beyond just an annoying character trait. Dominant people or those who have an extreme need for control may suffer from a personality disorder (possibly Narcissistic Personality Disorder or Antisocial Personality Disorder), which stems from early childhood that has not been properly processed. If the dominant person has a genuine personality disorder, the best way for that person to deal with it is to seek help.
- If you suspect this is the case, the exact disorder should be diagnosed by a professional. However, keep in mind that it is difficult to convince someone who wants to be in control that he or she needs something like this. Ultimately, the person must recognize their need for control and be willing to do something about it. However, most people who are dominant and want to control others prefer to blame other people for what is wrong with themselves.
- Also, you may not always be in a position to suggest professional help to the dominant person in your life. For example, if that person is your boss, or an elderly adult, you may not be in a position to suggest such a thing.
Step 3. Try to understand the effect the control freak has on others
Dominant people or control freaks sound like a strict parent who never changes. They say things like Do it now!, I'm the boss, do as I say!, or Hurry up! without asking nicely or showing any other form of courtesy. If you always feel like you are a child around such a person, then you can be sure that this person wants to take control of you and/or the situation. This person is likely to ignore your competencies, experience, and rights, preferring to put their capabilities above yours. The control freak tends to think he has a right to boss and take charge of others. This makes him feel better about himself.
Even in situations where this person has no control over you (such as a teacher, agent, or boss), the need for control is reflected in the way that person wields power. If such a person comes across as disrespectful, arrogant, coercive and dictatorial, this is a clear sign that this person wants to exercise control, rather than adopt a questioning, negotiating and respectful attitude. People who hold positions of power are only good managers or leaders if they also respect those they supervise. This also includes making suggestions, trusting the employee and giving them responsibility
Step 4. Be aware that nice people can also be dominant or a control freak
This is the type who whines, who insists that if you don't do it as I suggest, then all hell will break loose; this can be said to you in a nice way, with the expectation that you will then be grateful for the nagging exhortations that follow. These kinds of people pretend to be reasonable people and pretend that you are the epitome of unreasonableness. If you notice that your decisions are communicated without you having a say in it because it is simply the best for you and you are expected to be happy with it too, then it may well be that you in the company of a good-natured dictator.
Many control freaks suffer from a lack of empathy and are unaware (or don't care) about the impact their bossy words and actions have on others. This can result from insecurity (which manifests itself in the form of superiority and power) and unhappiness. It can also be a sign of sheer arrogance
Step 5. Be aware that your worth does not depend on this person
You should always see yourself as equal to the control freak, even if his behavior suggests otherwise. This is crucial for your well-being. The control freak, especially if it's a family member, can really negatively affect your self-esteem. As awful as this person sometimes makes you feel, remind yourself that the need for control is his problem, not yours. If you allow the control freak to get inside your head, he's won.
Remind yourself that you are the one who is rational and who has realistic expectations about what someone can and cannot do. Don't allow yourself to feel like you're falling short just because of someone else's unreasonable expectations
Method 2 of 4: Dealing constructively with the control freak
Step 1. Be assertive
This isn't easy if you're not used to it, but it's a skill you can train, and your dominant control freak is great practice material. It is important for the control freak to be aware that you are not allowing anyone to boss you around; the longer you allow it, the more it becomes an entrenched pattern and you are assumed to accept it.
- Go to the control freak for a chat and express your concerns. Do this discreetly and not in front of others.
- During the conversation, keep your focus on the impact his lust for control has on you; don't offend the other by calling them bossy. For example, if you feel like your boss is always giving you orders but never naming your talents, you might say something along the lines of: I've been in this position for five years now and I'm good at it. But if you ask me to give you the results so you can see everything, I get the feeling that my qualities are overlooked and my contribution is not appreciated. I therefore have the feeling that you do not see that I can make a very good contribution and that I am not respected. I would like to be addressed and treated with respect.
Step 2. Stay calm
It is important with a control freak that you are calm and patient, even if you are screaming inside. Getting angry just doesn't work. It can also help to give the other person a lot of space if it is clear that they are tired, stressed or unwell. If you start to get angry, the dominant person's behavior will only get worse. It's important to take a deep breath, to avoid swearing, and to keep your voice steady and even.
- If you come across as obviously angry or hurt, the other person will see that they really made an impact on you, and that will only make their behavior worse.
- Being angry or hurt also causes the dominant figure to see you as weak and easy to manipulate. It is undesirable to make that impression, because then you will only become more of a target for him.
Step 3. Avoid the control freak as much as possible
Sometimes the best thing you can do is simply avoid the behavior. Talking about their behavior together, and hearing how it makes you feel, can help the other person understand their behavior better, and work towards a goal in which the two of you work together to better interact with each other. But sometimes the only thing you can do in the situation is to distance yourself. Of course it depends on who it is you want to avoid, but here are a few things to keep in mind:
- If it's someone in your family, just try to distance yourself as much as possible. Sometimes it seems like it's impossible to please a control freak. Because such a person criticizes everything and it is very difficult not to take it personally. It can enrage you and it can hurt you. The worst thing you can do with someone like that is to argue with them, because that's just a waste of your time. They will not, and cannot, change without help. Remember that their dominant behavior is their survival mechanism and it's not so much about you as it is about a person – it's their deep-seated problem, not yours.
- If a personal relationship turns into abuse because the other person is extremely manipulative and domineering, then you should get out and leave. Tell him that you need a break in the relationship right now and move on with your life. People who use violence or other abuse in a relationship will not change unless they enter long-term therapy.
- If you are an adolescent, try to be accommodating and to be very busy. You can stay away as much as possible and be outdoors, doing sports or studying and getting really good grades. Tell him you'd love to spend time together or talk, but you're busy studying, playing, volunteering, etc. Make good excuses. Then go out and find really nice people who make you feel good about yourself. Set high but realistic goals and try to achieve them; you do this for yourself.
Step 4. Monitor the control freak's stress level
A control freak can't handle it when he's stressed and that's when he really walks all over other people. The control freak believes that no one can do anything better than himself. Control freaks often succumb to the stress of taking on too much and then take it out on others. Try to be alert to mood swings and then tiptoe around. If you notice that the stress level of the bossy person in your life is rising, know that he will be even more dominant.
If you notice that he's losing control and you offer to help with something, sometimes that can be enough to temper the bossiness a bit. For example, you notice that your boyfriend gets very snappy and bossy when he's stressed. On a day when he is extremely stressed about a presentation he is going to give at work, you can try to give him some support by acknowledging how tired and stressed he is, by reassuring him about the presentation, and tell him he'll do a great job. Don't overdo it and be aware that he may still nag you, but also know that this little reassurance can take some of the stress away
Step 5. Look at the positives
This may seem impossible, but it can be a very useful way for you to regain control, especially if you have no choice and have to deal with this person on a daily basis. For example, you might think, My boss is really manipulative and domineering, but on the other hand, she's really good with customers and makes sure we get a lot of orders. She's also pretty good at X, as long as we can keep her away from Y. Look for ways to deal with the negative aspects, and look for ways to do what needs to be done.
Looking at the positive may require some creativity, but you will find that a dominant person will stop seeing you as a threat once he sees that you value him and praise his qualities, because such a person naturally mistrusts others
Step 6. Praise the control freak when he has earned it
Notice when the dominant person expresses his confidence. If the control freak trusts you, respects you, or gives you some responsibility, emphasize that and show that you appreciate it. By noticing the good and acknowledging it openly, the control freak might just get such a good feeling inside that he will do it again.
For example, say sweetly like: Thank you for entrusting me with that task. This makes the control freak feel good and he may loosen the reins a bit
Step 7. Understand that your voice may not always be heard
If you're someone with lots of ideas, a creative person or a problem solver, working with a control freak can break you. You may then offer ideas or solutions, or warn of possible consequences, only to be openly ignored or even criticized. And then, you'll never guess, your idea or solution is brought out as his or her achievement, weeks or months later. So somehow what you said really mattered; it was just not recognized. This kind of behavior, which is extremely frustrating, is unfortunately all too common among control freaks. If this happens to you, here are some ways to deal with it:
- See it for what it is. Sometimes it's better to bring up an idea and let it go than not to happen at all. In this case, try to laugh at it and accept it for the sake of the group, organization or company. Support the result and don't take it personally.
- Talk to the person about it. This can be risky and it depends on the situation, the group dynamics and the person involved. If it's very important to you that you clarify that you thought of it first, then you'd better come up with some hard facts, like Oh, that was the idea we discussed in May 2012, and I have the original drafts of it in my computer files. I thought our team would be involved in its development and I'm pretty sure we noted that. I'm a little disappointed that we're only hearing about it now while it's already in the testing phase. However, that being said, now that it's already here, we're here to help with the testing.
- Keep everything on paper. If at some point you have to prove that you were the first to have the idea, then you need to write everything down so that you can use it in defense, should it ever come to that.
- Stop coming up with ideas at work if your contribution keeps getting ignored or taken from you. Just keep on nodding, for the sake of peace, and try to keep the control freak from getting involved with you. You may need to constantly affirm the control freak in his role as boss, and be so happy with your job. If possible, look for a new job.
Method 3 of 4: Examining your own tendencies
Step 1. Look at your own role in relation to the bossiness of the other
Sometimes someone dominates you or nags you because you've done certain things. While this isn't an excuse for the other person to be manipulative or coercive, it's important that you put things in perspective and acknowledge that there may be times when someone really gets you desperate! Be honest in assessing yourself if you really want to find out why you have this problem. Here are some things to consider:
- Have you done something (or something you didn't do) that evoked a coercive attitude from the other person? For example, if you never meet your deadlines or clean your room, don't be surprised if someone responsible for your upbringing or your salary starts to act forcing you.
- Bossy people only become more coercive when they notice that someone is not cooperating. Passive-aggressive behavior in particular works on bossy people like a red cloth on a bull-it simply makes them more forceful because they get frustrated with the insincere response. It is better to be clear about your dissatisfaction and to be assertive than to try to undermine the bossy person in your life.
Step 2. Take a look at your own dominant tendencies
No one is a saint when it comes to being bossy – all of us have a tendency to boss others around at times. For example, if you know a lot about something, if you are in a position of power, or if you find yourself being a bit coercive because you are worried and stressed; however you look at it, there will undoubtedly be times in your life when you are bossy yourself. Use the memory of those experiences to understand how the constantly bossy person is, and you may be able to see through the root of their behavior.
Try to pay more attention to other people if you find yourself acting bossy – pay attention to the reactions. If you do, you'll learn a lot about coping with the emotions that compelling people often feel
Step 3. Learn how to honestly assess your qualities and pitfalls
You can do this, for example, by discussing the matter (privately) with a third, neutral party. Be sure to choose someone who you know will handle the information discreetly, who understands how to handle similar situations, and who knows you well enough to give you the right feedback. No one is all good or all bad; everyone has their qualities and their weaknesses. If you know very well who you are (good or bad), then the moods and manipulations of the control freak will not be able to get a hold of you.
Having a better idea of how you come across to others, whether at work or in a relationship, can give you a better idea of how reasonable the control freak's expectations really are. If there's someone behind you, you'll see that there's nothing to be paranoid about, and the control freak is really, really unreasonable
Method 4 of 4: Deciding you want to break free
Step 1. Realize that your life is important
There are always other jobs and other people you can have healthy relationships with. If the situation is really unbearable, stop tormenting yourself; instead, look for a way to free yourself. No one should be given the power to control your life. It's your life, don't forget that. Even if you think you will never find a new job again; if you find yourself in a destructive environment, then for your own psychological well-being you better leave.
For teenagers who have to wait until they are old enough to leave: do volunteer work, do sports, get a job or other things that get you out of your home. Ask your parents to pay to send you to college if they have the money, and then apply for colleges well away from your parent's home. If they are against it, explain that the university you want to go to is the only one that offers X (make sure you come up with something realistic and reasonable)
Step 2. Choose to forgive
Control freaks are full of fears and insecurities that make them never satisfied and always unhappy. They demand perfection of themselves, which is both difficult and often impossible to achieve. Their inability to understand that failure is part of life prevents these people from becoming fully capable people, and they remain emotionally handicapped as a result; that's a pretty sad state of being to be stuck in. Whatever your own situation looks like, at least you can leave and find your own happiness. Instead, they can choose to change their thinking patterns; but if they don't then they will never experience peace in their lives.
Finding happiness doesn't always mean leaving. You could start a time consuming hobby, you could even start practicing a religion so you don't have to spend as much time with the control freak. Know that his opinion of you doesn't have to lower your self-esteem. Focus on yourself and know that you are not responsible for any transformation of those who manipulate and dominate you
Step 3. Start rebuilding your confidence
It will undoubtedly have taken a hit. Be kind to yourself. If a control freak has you under his thumb, he may have convinced you that you are worthless; he does this because it is an effective way to keep you from moving on with your life and leaving him. Don't believe any of this kind of demoralizing talk. Control freaks like to make people feel insecure about themselves. Don't fall for it. Start by gradually distancing yourself. Believe in your worth; it is within you.
- You can go a long way in rebuilding your confidence by spending time with people who make you feel good about yourself and who don't feel the need to control you.
- Do things that make you feel valued and capable. Chances are, the control freak made you feel like you couldn't do anything right. Take the time to complete tasks that make you feel confident, whether it's doing yoga exercises or writing an annual report.
Step 4. Decide what your next step will be
In this case, come up with a plan to stay and continue the work or romantic relationship, or leave and set a time limit for yourself so that you feel like you have some control over things. If you live with a control freak, try to approach the matter strategically and carefully. Make sure you don't get into a fight; tell him your feelings in a clear and calm way. You don't have to be under anyone's control; remember that you have the right to do what you want with your life.
Sometimes leaving is ultimately all you can do, especially if you've tried to stand up for yourself and deal with the situation but it hasn't led to better outcomes for yourself
- Someone with a compelling personality often uses emotions to manipulate others; for example, they may pretend to panic about something because they will control you if you show sympathy.
- If you're on a date, be on the lookout for signs. Jealousy and guilt can be a way of taking control of people. Control freaks are also very good at manipulating people. Keep your eyes and ears open!
- It's more important for a control freak to feel they're right about something than the relationship they have with you. If it's an employer, make sure you agree with him, even if you don't really. But don't go so far as to break the law or harm others. Be yourself and be the one with values and standards.
- Beware if a bossy person in a relationship wants to do everything for you, such as taking you everywhere, shopping for you, etc. Test this person by telling them that you already have other plans for the weekend. If he keeps calling all the time and trying to play a part in your life all the time, he could be a potential control freak. Be warned – you'll be heading for disaster.
- The control freak may say that he cares about you and that he only does things because he cares about you. This can make you think positively about things that may be unacceptable, and you may wonder if you've misjudged the things he's doing. That way he is in control of you.
- If you are a teenager and one of your parents is a control freak, it is important that you explain to him how his behavior is affecting you. He may be trying to "protect" you from making bad decisions, but still he will need to understand that you have the right to make your own decisions, because it's your own life, and because it's natural for you to be in control. want to live your own life.
- Realize that the control freak may be having a hard time. Try to empathize with him; this will make you feel calmer when you are with him and not get frustrated so easily. It may not be acceptable behavior, but he sees it as a way to feel better about himself or as a way to deal with stress. That said, you don't have to be a sweeper and let everything go; simply acknowledge the cause of his behavior and look for a way to deal with the behavior while protecting yourself.
- Try to avoid getting into a relationship with or working for a control freak. There are red flags that indicate you are dealing with one if they insist that everything is done their way, if they see shortcomings in others all the time, if they can't relax and let others do the work in a project to do. In a personal relationship, they often feel the need to be in control of everything you do. They can be extremely jealous and possessive for no reason.
- A control freak can make you feel paranoid and that you are the one having a problem (gas-lighting). This can cause psychological damage. You are not the problem, but this tactic can throw you off balance, which is exactly what the control freak is aiming for.
- Don't think that a control freak is someone you can't get along with, especially when it comes to work and social situations. Yes, there are violent people and yes, there are more intimate entanglements with certain people that can only be resolved by leaving them, but in general it is best to try to get along with all kinds of people in life. Minimizing the contact can be a healthier way of dealing with it than creating more drama. Put their behavior in perspective but look for any shortcomings you have in setting boundaries with people, such as learning to be assertive or communicating more clearly.
- Certain types of control freaks can be difficult and sometimes even dangerous if they are rejected in a personal relationship. If you find that the person is hot-tempered and easily hurt, be careful when you break up with them. If possible, give him a reason why you care, such as poor communication, overspending, or anything else that gives the impression that you are not someone who can easily be controlled by someone else; if you do it that way it looks like he came up with it himself and then it's easier for him to accept. If this is too hard, break up in a way that makes you feel safe, such as over the phone or with friends who are there and behind you. It may help to show that you have a network of friends and family who support you before this person starts threatening you.
- Record any threats such a person makes towards you if they don't allow you to get out of the relationship. Then go to the police and request a restraining order. Make sure the person in question knows this and make sure that the police can monitor your telephone traffic. Ask your neighbors if they can keep an eye on you. If you're really scared, feel like you're in danger and don't have close friends to stay with, move to another city or to a shelter. If you do have close friends or family with whom you can stay, it may be good to make sure they are able to protect themselves and you. Ask someone who makes you feel safe, who is willing to confront the control freak if necessary, and preferably someone the control freak doesn't want to confront (i.e., someone they can't control).).