One way people respond to feeling out of control is by becoming controlling. Here are some helpful reminders when dealing with a controlling person:
1. Focus on your needs. When you focus on what you want instead of focusing on what another person is doing or not doing, you tend to move towards what you want. When you know what your needs are, you will find healthy ways to meet them.
2. Take responsibility. You are only responsible for 100% of yourself! This is true for every relationship and every interaction. Only own your own words, thoughts, feelings and actions. Keep your communication in first party, using “I” instead of “you.”
3. Only look at people’s actions. There is a difference between what people say and what people do. People’s actions provide you with all of the real information you need to know about them and to make good decisions for yourself. When we look at behavior, we have facts in front of us. When we listen to words, we leave lots of room for added meanings, assumptions, and opportunities to read between the lines. A great responsibility communication sentence to make someone more aware of their behavior is…
“When you do this (insert their behavior), I feel this (insert your emotion) and respond like this (insert your behavior).”
4. Stop overcompensating. Taking responsibility for what is not yours will leave you feeling powerless and out of control! If you find yourself “helping” another by taking responsibility for how they are showing up, take a deep breath, stop and repeat steps one, two and three!
5. Understand manipulation. All manipulation is an attempt to get a need met. When people feel out of control and are not focusing on their needs, they will unconsciously manipulate you to try and get their needs met. It is important to have clear boundaries and to give yourself permission to say no if what is being asked of you does not feel right. Asking questions to identify what is really being asked of you is a good thing! You are not responsible for meeting another’s need.
A great way to direct this conversation is to encourage this person to identify their needs. By getting them to more clearly understand their own needs, you are helping them find clear and healthy ways to get their needs met.
6. Stay in the moment. When people feel out of control, they tend to focus their energy on the future and may come across as pushy, desperate or threatening. Do not follow this person into the future and propagate something that most likely will not happen. Stick to the facts or their behavior and only reference what is here and happening today.
7. Remember, while another person may be controlling, you are always in control. Your choices are yours to make. The consequence of another’s choices are theirs to experience. Your ability to make your own choices is one of the greatest gifts you have and keeps your conscious mind healthy.
Originally published in 2009