In most cases, once you recognize the root of the problem with someone who you notice is controlling, you can start identifying what will work best. Preston Ni M.S.B.A. lists the following excerpts from his book How to Successfully Handle Aggressive and Controlling People in his blog which I highly recommend and can be found in my resources section:
1. Keep Your Cool and Maintain Composure
2. Keep Your Distance and Keep Your Options Open
3. Depersonalize and Shift from Reactive to Proactive
4. Know Your Fundamental Human Rights
5. Put the Spotlight on Them & Reclaim Your Power
6. In Relatively Mild Situations, Display Superior Composure Through Appropriate Humor
7. In Serious Situations, Set Consequences to Compel Cooperation
Preston says in his blog, “to know how to handle aggressive, intimidating, and controlling people is to truly master the art of communication. As you utilize these skills, you may experience less grief, greater confidence, better relationships, and higher communication prowess.”
In the case of the client, who I mentioned in the previous post, who needed to hear he was good-looking, I could have better handled the situation by asking, “why do you need me to say you are good looking to feel like you are?” In instances where someone has tried to demean you, you could say “I do not deserve to be treated this way, is there something bothering you?” If the behavior continues, set a boundary by saying something like, “If you continue to talk to me disrespectfully, I will begin to avoid you.”
In more severe situations that I have witnessed in the counseling sessions where the individual has shown controlling behavior or even abusive behavior, it was common that they handled all the finances and safety was a concern. In these extreme situations, the control seeker has wanted a spouse who does not work so they have financial control over them. The women then stay in abusive relationships because they don’t have the ability to move out financially. If you are in a situation like this, make sure you become informed and are at least aware of account balances, account numbers, and passwords. It is crucial you stay educated. If that is not possible and you are one of those women in a living arrangement where you feel you are in danger call for help. National Domestic Violence Hotline: 800-799-SAFE.
If you are stuck with an extremely controlling person in a business situation and none of the above methods of communication have worked, look at your options rather than suffering and doing things that conflict with your value system. If it is a client, go to your manager and explain the situation and see if there are options for account transfers. If the manager doesn’t support you then report it to your Human Resources office. If your company doesn’t have one or you are afraid of the repercussions, then look for other positions. In my experience, if the manager is someone who cares about you, they will work to help you.
Given not all work environments are healthy where some managers and the leaders at the top work to control their employees and put them down versus providing constructive criticism, you may also feel trapped in your job. You may think it is you. There may also be times where you do need coaching. However, good managers will praise in public and critique in private. If they are saying things that only bring you down in front of your peers and others, that is a sign that the manager may be the problem. Also if what they say isn’t helpful and beats you down more than coaches you to be better, than you may need to examine your situation closer. Your gut will tell you if it is truly you or if others around you are experiencing the same problems. You have choices. First work to address it with the person. For example, you could say in a one on one, yet safe setting, “I know I have some areas where I can improve. When you used the terms “…” what did you really mean by that? Next time could you help me understand exactly how to get better?” If you are in an extreme situation where you are feeling controlled to do inappropriate things please see https://www.eeoc.gov.
Photograph was taken of Cliffs of Moher in Ireland