People exercise control for different reasons. Sometimes you have to control a situation or a project. In those cases, you may also be directing people to get a specific job done – this is part of being a manager, leader or parent etc. Sometimes various authorities have to control and perhaps restrain people, e.g. prisoners, patients or large crowds. These types of control are generally necessary although they may not always be appreciated by those being controlled and we all know examples of poorly exercised duties involving control.
It is on the more personal level where controlling becomes an issue. If you find yourself trying hard to control other people, you have decided that you, your goals, your dreams, or even just your opinions are more important than theirs are.
Plus, control is short term at best, because it often requires force, or fear, or authority, or some form of pressure – none of those make you feel good about yourself and they certainly will not make the controlled person feel good about themselves.
The problem is that controlling people are often not aware of their actions and the hugely negative effect their actions have on the people they control.
At work we tend to just give up and find another job, knowing or expecting that talking to a controlling boss about his/her behaviour will make no difference and that raising the issue with HR is unlikely to improve the situation – perhaps even make it worse through retaliation from the boss.
In personal relationships where one person is forcing control on their spouse or partner the situation is even more complicated. Children, financial security, a place to live etc. are things that are very difficult to walk away from.
But why do some people feel the urge to control others in the first place? There is no simple answer to this question, but in general terms people with controlling behaviour try to compensate for their own insecurities and short comings. Furthermore, they may not recognise those insecurities and will, in most cases, strenuously deny that they are “control freaks” when confronted with such a suggestion.
The subject of control and being controlled is far bigger than a blog post can cover. Every case is unique despite the presence of some general personality traits in both the controller and the controlled. Therefore, I will avoid the temptation of giving generic advice, which can potentially do more harm than good.
However, if you have been touched by this subject feel free to contact me for a no obligation discussion on how to move forward.