Control Freak Ahead…How do I say “Stop It?”

How do you wrestle the reins out of the hands of the Control Freak in your life? That depends more on your relationship to the Control Freak than what they are doing to control your life. Dr. Parrott, in his book “The Control Freak,” lists six different varieties of Control Freaks and gives suggestions on how to cope with each.


First on the list is the Meddling Manager. One airline CEO was a master of the personal touch, a true servant leader. By spending time with his employees from baggage handlers to pilots he persuaded them to accept pay cuts in return for company concessions. He was able to put the airline in the black and sell it to a larger airline for a large sum of money. The CEO of that larger airline, a certified Control Freak, meddled in everyone else’s business, berated people in front of coworkers in attempt to get them to do what he wanted and generally mistreated people with his over-controlling ways. The board of directors, led by the former CEO of the previously mentioned airline, forced him out of the company.

Suggestions for coping with a Meddling Manager include; Try on his/her shoes, Keep the big picture in mind, Demonstrate your competence, Drown the manager in information, Put it in writing, Understand the “WADIT” principle (We Always Do It That way), Ask for more autonomy, then, Know when it’s time to move on.

Second in the list is the Coercive Colleague. The Coercive Colleague is the intentional master manipulator. This is the person who brags that they can take a personality inventory test and make the results say anything they need to say in order to get what they want.

Suggestions for coping with the Coercive Colleague begin with taking a good look in the mirror to recognize the part of yourself that is just like the person who’s irritating you. Wow, that is hard to swallow! I don’t want to see myself in a controlling colleague. Then; Call on other colleagues for help, Coax your colleague with more information, Make your voice heard, Subdue the “talker,” Turn criticism into constructive change, Don’t be afraid to confront your colleague, and finally, Know when the line has been crossed.

Third is the Supervising Spouse. The home thermostat can turn into a battle ground in some families, and the battles can continue to every room in the house. How did he/she get that way? “I don’t know” is the most common answer, and usually an honest one. Home is the one place we can – or think we can – do anything we want. It’s the one place we have “total control.” If you think controlling tendencies can get out of control at work or a soccer game, you haven’t seen anything until you see a Control Freak loose in the house!

On coping with the Supervising Spouse, here are the suggestions; Take an honest look at yourself, Put the problem on the table, Look for solutions instead of pointing your finger, Pinpoint what matters most, Keep score (literally, in writing), Negotiate your role, Learn to fight fair, Hand over the reins when you can, Refuse to play the blame game.

Fourth is the Pushy Parent. Force and the rod are no longer recommended by many child-raising experts, but squelching a child’s spirit through over-controlling behavior is still in practice, even with adult children. It is seen when parents are overprotective, dictatorial, overly strict, belittling, manipulative, smothering, harsh, reserved, tense, irritable, stifling, unemotional, or pushy. Why do parents do that? Probably because of one or both of two misbeliefs: “My child owes me,” Or “I own my child.”

A lot of people go through life beating themselves up the same way they were beaten up.
— Marlo Thomas


Suggestions for coping with the Pushy Parent are; Put yourself in your pushy parent’s shoes, Get a reality check, Find the good in your parent’s control, Understand your parent’s pain, Set healthy boundaries, Dare to make a meaningful connection, Forgive as best you can, Identify your reactive style, Meet your internalized parent, Make a choice and know what it is, Break the chain of over-control.

Fifth is the Invasive In-Law. Someone once observed that Adam and Eve got along as well as they did because neither had any in-laws to worry about. Maybe so. I can only imagine how much worse the human race would be if they’d had in-laws on top of all the other learning curves they faced. Some blessed couples couldn’t be happier with their in-laws (I count myself in this group), while other couples feel their in-laws are the source of all their problems.

To cope with Invasive In-laws, start with Put yourself in your invasive in-laws shoes. (Yes, there is a pattern here!) Dr. Parrott also suggests; Face the problem head on, Work as a team, Win them over if you can, Take back your in-laws’ “right” to meddle, Be in the “No” from time to time, Don’t allow in-laws to make up your mind, Make plans early for the holidays, When all else fails shift gears, Take the good with the bad.

Sixth, and last on this list, is the Tenacious Teen. This is the age when Mom and Dad are seen as completely clueless by the teen. The first time I asked my daughter what she wanted to be when she grew up she put her finger on her little 4 year old chin, thought a minute, and replied, “A Person.” The teen years are when we make the transition from son or daughter to “being my own person.”

To cope with the Tenacious Teen; Build a platform of kindness, Own your part, Look below the surface, Critique with care, Look for the good and affirm it, Admit mistakes and be as sincere as possible, Beware of rewards, Don’t be unrealistically positive, Steer clear of regret, Don’t make the target too easy to hit.

Spoiler Alert! Next time we will discuss Controlling the Control Freak Within…so get ready to duck!