Caution…Control Freak Ahead!

Let me start with a disclaimer. No, I am not talking about you…nor your boss! No, your wife didn’t call and suggest that you might need to read this. No, I don’t consider myself a control freak…except maybe in things that really matter to me…things like the garden and the lawn.

We probably fall into two different categories, the control freaks and those who have to deal with the control freaks…at least that was my opinion until I read the book, “THE CONTROL FREAK …COPING WITH THOSE AROUND YOU. TAMING THE ONE WITHIN.” By Les Parrott III, PHD. 

Wow, that last part about taming the one within kind of hurts!

Let me back up a bit and say that calling someone a Control Freak is not necessarily disparaging, at least I don’t mean it that way. Control Freaks can, however, be pushy, self-centered cranks who always have to have their own way. They can be the power-hungry boss that tells you what your opinion is supposed to be (though it is certainly not that way with my current boss). Or the manipulative mother who bombards you with criticisms and prophecies of doom until you do what she wants.  These are major-league Control Freaks, and there’s no question about the trouble they cause the rest of us.

But a Control Freak can also be anyone who cares more about how to plant the garden than you do, or how to mow the grass, etc. You see, Control Freak is not so much derogatory as it is descriptive. So, relax. And maybe admit, along with me, that you can be a Control Freak. Recognizing the control freak in yourself might help you more successfully manage the Control Freaks around you.

“Control Freaks are people who care more than you do about something and won’t stop at being pushy to get their way.”
— Les Parrott

Psychologists have described the source of pressure that Control Freaks place on us in a variety of ways:

  • “a will to conquer”
  • “an instinct to master”
  • “a manipulative drive”
  • “a striving for superiority”
  • “an urge toward competence”

It doesn’t really matter what you call it, if you’ve ever been repeatedly roped into somebody else’s ways of doing and being, you know what it feels like to be had by a Control Freak. And you know the feeling of being annoyed and even demeaned. Those are the natural by-products of the Control Freak in action. The very act of someone’s trying to control you sends several negative messages: I don’t trust you to be able to do it right; I don’t respect your judgement; I don’t think you are competent; I don’t value your insight (or skill or experience).

“Kindly let me help you or you will drown,” said the monkey,
putting the fish safely up in a tree.
— Alan Watts

How does that happen? The techniques can be numerous: showing false friendliness, giving expensive gifts, making empty promises, sulking, shouting, nagging, being chronically late, withholding affection, bullying, badgering, or just plain bossing the people around them. The tools of the trade are infinite.

You Do Not Have To Be Controlled.

I am convinced that nearly all of us have some controlling tendencies, or some areas of our lives where we feel a genuine need to be in control. A few readily admit to being the proverbial control freak, while some adamantly deny what others in their lives are fully aware of…if they are not in control, they freak out! You don’t need to be a clinical psychologist to see when controlling tendencies get out of control.  Let me give you the top ten qualities of a Control Freak according to Dr. Parrott;

  1. Obnoxious
  2. Tenacious
  3. Invasive
  4. Obsessive
  5. Perfectionistic
  6. Critical
  7. Irritable
  8. Demanding
  9. Rigid
  10. Closeminded

When it comes to dealing with the Control Freaks in your life there are some options. Maybe you are feeling uneasy about this subject because of what you see in someone else or in your own mirror. If so, I will be giving some suggestions next week, and if needed, refer you to other resources. Whether you have a Control Freak in your life or you see one in every mirror, you don’t have to be miserable.