Manipulation. Influence. Persuasion. Control. They are all words used to describe how one can ‘navigate’ a situation, person, or event to their advantage. Is this a bad thing? Not necessarily if you know the difference between the traits and how they are being used.
So how exactly are the control freak and the manipulator related?
The control freak is obsessed with being in the middle of things, directing, assigning and telling (or demanding). The manipulator isn’t necessarily in the middle but is on the side-lines just to make sure everything goes her way – as she intended. The control freak needs control. The manipulator needs to control you.
I know you like being in control of your life. Me, too. However, some women want to control everyone else’s life as well. The control freak believes that her nonstop intervention is beneficial and even required.
What do Steve Jobs, Angelina Jolie, Bill Gates, Tom Cruise and Kate Gosselin have in common? They are famous control freaks!
She sincerely believes that in order to protect herself she has to be in control of every aspect of her life. Her greatest fear is being vulnerable.
Now who can blame her? Haven’t you been crushed at some time or another when you were vulnerable? It didn’t feel good, did it? I have a few fences myself.
But the control freak has an obsessive need to get her way in ALL exchanges with you. She wants to make the plans, deciding what and when you will do anything. If she can’t do this then she lets you know in no uncertain terms she will be unhappy – and it’s YOUR fault.
When a control freak cannot control she experiences a series of rapid phases:
- become angry and agitated,
- then panicky and hesitant,
- then agitated and threatening, and
- finally, falling into misery
- You have tremendous amounts of anxiety. Anxiety about what could happen if you don’t take charge. It’s the anxiety that is constantly lurking in most situations that involve decisions and actions – both directly and indirectly. Control becomes your anxiety management tool.
- You experience fear – the ‘what if’s’ of the situation. What if I don’t get in on the action? What if I can’t make the decision? I’m afraid everything will go wrong if I don’t intervene?
- You suffer from bouts of insecurity. You live in a state of second-guessing everyone else. Why? Because you really don’t trust they know what they are doing. And if they did, they would screw it up without your help or direction.
- You’re angry. Angry that everyone isn’t asking you for your help, your opinion, your direction or your know-how that only you can give.
Under all of this ‘control’ lies unhappiness. You try to convince yourself this is the best way to live, to get things done and to be of service to others. You tell yourself that you know what’s best for people, what they need to do and you can show them the way. Being in control gives you a temporary sense of calmness.
So, what message are you sending to the rest of us? That we are incompetent and untrustworthy – which is why we avoid and don’t like you.
- Unwillingness to delegate important projects
- Micromanaging staff behavior
- Feelings of worth increase when people agree with you
- Volunteering for multiple new projects/extra work – the ultimate way to gain more control and influence
- Constantly finding yourself playing the mediator (you like being in the middle of the action)
- Anxiousness when things change rapidly
Beware of the coworker or boss control freak. Creating your agenda, controlling interactions with you, running the show and calling the shots is their shtick.
Here are common ‘control freak’ symptoms:
- Preoccupation and worry with minor details. You fuss over small things. It goes beyond perfectionism.
- Worry over other’s actions and how they will affect the big picture. You start scheming how you can control what they do.
- When something does not go your way, do you get crazy?
- Are you pessimistic about things not in your control?
- Are you spending time covering up – creating a favorable impression – when you are being a control freak?
- Finally, you can’t help pointing out others’ mistakes – constantly correcting them.
Look at the underlined words. Notice they represent unhealthy ways of being which is extremely stressful leaving you void of pleasure.
The good news is you can stop yourself from being a control freak. I have worked with women who sincerely want to lessen their anxiety and attachment to control. Here are 7 things you can do to overcome being a control freak:
- Keep your cool. Distance yourself from the situation you want to control. Focus on your breathing and center yourself. Prior to getting into a ‘control’ situation create a mantra that will calm your mind and your desire to control. ‘Controlling myself is my goal.’ Or ‘I am free of needing to control everything.’ It’s important to relax.
- Slow your speech. Listen to what you are saying. Is this how you want to come across? Are you using words that are nonthreatening? What questions can you ask to encourage collaboration?
- Be patient with yourself. This won’t happen overnight. Identify the regularly occurring times when you control the most. For example, with your kids, your spouse, or your staff. Know ahead of time what you need to do differently before you’re in the situation. Plan ahead.
- Control your reactions AND emotions. There is no need to participate in power struggles or personalize what is going on. State your wants and needs. Get them met when in healthy ways. Warning: you will feel overcome with the desire to control. Don’t give in to it!
- Listen to yourself. Ask yourself questions to heighten your awareness in what is happening right in front of you. This is calming and reassuring.
- Choose things you can (and should) control. Pace yourself. Pace the conversation. Pay attention to what is within your boundaries and what affects you. You don’t have to stop being in control of everything.
- Be kind to you. Stop demanding that you take charge. Stop being responsible for everything in sight. Impossible! Being a control freak is self-abusive.
Remember, you are trying to protect yourself when you become a control freak. There’s a better way – honor your sense of self and self-worth. Walk away – leaving the control freak behind. Let go of ‘her’ and grow.
If you suspect you are a control freak, what are you doing to control the urge?
[Editor’s Note: There’s a fine line between control freak and positive influencer. Using the art of influence for life success can be learned and mastered. Discover what the experts know. Find out “insider” tips to creating influence and the affect this powerful force will have on virtually anyone you come in contact with. Click here NOW to learn more]
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