By Jacquelyn Ferguson, M. S.
Are you a control freak? If so, what do you think drives your behavior?
* Fear of loss of control so you compensate by exerting excessive control? Like micromanaging employees (next week’s topic).
* See your spouse and kids as a reflection on you so you demand perfection from them by telling them how to act and look?
* Or you’re convinced that you’re the best person to be in charge because you know the most (which can include the first two, also)?
You may be quick to let others know how to better handle their emotions or their life in general. You find fault in others and you’re convinced their lives would improve if they’d just take your well-informed advice. After all, you wouldn’t give advice about things you’re uninformed about now would you?
Can you tell when someone doesn’t appreciate your superior knowledge and competence? Do you dish out your advice anyway? Can you just not help yourself?
To add insult to injury you’re probably frustratingly right so often! Darn!
Instead of attempting to completely stop advising others you might have greater success by mitigating your usual approach. Rather than blurting out your counsel, preface it by saying, “I have some information that can help you, if you’re interested.” This gives the other person the control to say yes or no.
You could also light-heartedly admit to those who are typically on the receiving end of your unsolicited guidance that you know you have this tendency and your intent is truly to help. Develop an agreed upon word or better yet a nonverbal signal that the other person gives you that says “stop,” to which you agree to stop immediately.
Here are some other ways you can temper your controlling tendency:
* Consider: if someone were to give you unsolicited and excessive advice how would you react? Defensively? If so, what makes you think others enjoy yours? Try saying nothing for a couple of weeks and notice if some don’t come to you asking for your opinion! They want to be in control, too.
* Before criticizing or giving advice deep breathe a couple of times while asking yourself, “Is my advice important enough to risk any potential relationship fall-out?”
* Identify your area of expertise and who would benefit from it. Perhaps a volunteer program needs your know-how. Share your knowledge with them.
If you’re on the receiving end of a control freak you can also diminish the negative impact. Instead of reacting with automatic hostility and resistance channel your control freak’s energy. If he sticks his nose into something you’re working on invite him to help with part of it. Or head him off at the pass. Invite his input before he offers it. At least it gives you some control.
Whatever the control freak’s motivation, consider giving her a break. She can’t bother you if you don’t allow her to. Eleanor Roosevelt once said, “No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.” Nor can a control freak stress you without your consent.
Jacquelyn Ferguson, M. S., is an international speaker and a Stress and Wellness Coach.