Working with the Control Freak

Do you know of, or maybe you are someone who shows the following traits:

  • Has to have the last word on everything
  • Unemotional
  • Rigid
  • A desperate need to control everything around them
  • Never delegates
  • Always needs to be right

With the best of intent, some people can become accidental diminishers through their controlling behaviour.

They are constantly trying to anticipate where the next threat comes from. They avoid emotion, instead, thinking rationally and methodically to anticipate all the moving parts. They want to predict and control all the moving parts of their world through a template that can be applied to all instances. They display heightened attention to detail. They may display obsessive-compulsive behaviours.

In relation to the RocheMartin Emotional Capital Report, they are often high in self-control and self-reliance – they wish to micromanage everyone and everything around them. They can tend to worry about everything and anything going wrong. They often think in black and white and can become moralistic and judgemental. They also want to be right. There is very little ambiguity in their thinking and often a low emotional response. Control freaks find it very difficult to adapt. They have a high need for certainty.

When working with a Control Freak, you can feel:

  • Disempowered
  • Riled-up
  • Disconnected and as though you are dealing with a robot
  • Micro-managed

So how might we manage or relate to the Control Freak?

  • Have firm boundaries. Teach them how you wish to be treated. Be firm with what you can and can’t do
  • Develop a “go with the flow” approach; pick your battles
  • Recognise their need for reassurance: 
    • Let them know that you’ve got this
    • Communicate with them where things are at – regular updates
  • Validate their need for control and sense of ownership and responsibility
  • Introduce flexibility – broaden their perspective. Eg: How might that have been perceived/received?
  • Invite them to pay attention to emotion. Eg: I felt…

Go well this week


Need a speaker?

There are plenty of speakers to choose from. I am not the norm. You won’t be bored to tears by the same ole’ approach and dribble. How about bringing Mary-Anne for the conference or all-staff day.

Give me a stage and I’ll own it. Give me a room and I’ll energise it. Give me your people and I’ll inform and inspire them. 

Need virtual delivery – no sweat! I have facilitated virtual full and half-day workshops, virtual keynote speaking at online conferences, and might I say, you still get the Mary-Anne goodness you deserve!

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