Handling Control Freaks

Ever worked for a boss who has developed a wonderful reputation of being a “jerk” over a period of time? Ever experience being micro-managed by control freaks?

Every time I ask this question in my seminars: “How many among you have been offended, hurt and negatively and permanently affected by a boss sometime in your past employment life?” A high 30% or more of the hands will quickly shoot up into the air. I guess the remaining 70% did not because they were with their bosses in the seminar. Control freaks are everywhere. They’re in the work place, they’re in your business partnerships, and they’re operating in churches and institutions too.

Most relationships between bosses and direct reports are hostile and adversarial and good company initiatives are hampered because there is bad chemistry between bosses and their people.

This is why there are questions like:

  • “What is the difference between your boss and a dengue-carrying mosquito?”

Answer: “One is a bacteria-infested blood sucking animal while the other one is an insect!”

  • “What is the difference between your boss and time?”

Answer: “You can kill time….”

I’ve known of leaders who have made their life career making other people miserable. They micro-managing and they over control. Some of them are bombastic while others have the charm of Jack the Ripper. They exhibit the grace and compassion of a chainsaw killer.

If you happen to be working for one, life can be a living hell for you so here are a couple of suggestions:

1. RESPOND. DO NOT REACT.

There are some good things you can get out of the relationship. There are good qualities you can learn from the obsessive-compulsive control freak. Pick up the good stuff and learn from it. People of controlling nature are usually hard workers. Learn to compartmentalize the good you should pick up and the bad you should discard. Otherwise you run the risk of being held ransom by an emotional blackmailer.

Give the control freak the benefit of the doubt. Speak to the person in private. Choose the right words, the right time and the right spirit and say: “You are wonderful in many ways and I am learning a lot from you however I find that you keep trying to control me and boss me around. Can you possibly control this tendency, please? I will give you my best and I won’t let you down” Some control freaks really don’t know how dictatorial they are until it’s pointed out.

2. STATE YOUR CASE AND DO NOT ARGUE.

You will never gain anything by arguing your case because most control freaks are good with justifying why they do what they do. They’ve been doing this for years. They have earned the world championship for being “right!”

State your case and do not argue.

Suppose the Control Freak comes to you and say, “You know what? Why don’t you use the brand I am using because it would be better for you?”

So what do you do?

Just say, “Hmmm. No. I like this brand better. You may not get away that easy. I suppose the control freak would say: “You should get the other laptop brand because it has better value for money!”

You respond: “I know, but I like this brand the best!”

The Control Freak will say: “the other brand is of a better quality and it will last you longer.”

You respond: “I know, but I just like the other brand better!”

The Control Freak might say: “The brand I am recommending is more popular!”

You respond: “I know, but I really like this other brand!”

The Control Freak at this moment would probably roll his or her eyes and say: “You know what? Why don’t you get your brand, then?”

3. BE RESPECTFUL BUT STICK TO YOUR STATED POSITION.

Most people are afraid to do this and then they wonder why they are always being pushed around. This is simply because they have never stood on their principles and convictions. In a world that is dictated by the dictatorial leader, you will always find a company of fearful yes-men (and women) who would kowtow to every whim and wish of the control freak. They will never earn the respect they are longing for. When you stick to your position, the control freak had to do all the work while you just had one reason you stuck with which he couldn’t really argue. This eventually builds your reputation as someone who sticks to principles and convictions. But the key here is that you have to be respectful. Smile at all times.

4. WALK AWAY AND ENJOY YOUR LIFE.

When the control freak is obsessed with what collides with your personal values in life, be prepared to walk away because it’s just not worth it.

“What? Walk away?” You’re probably asking.

I did. Ask me and I’ve got tons of stories to tell. It is not my job to control the control freak. When demands, attitudes and behaviors collided with Biblical principles and threatened to violate my personal values, I walked away. In hindsight, it was the best decision I made.

The danger with control freaks is that without opposition, they easily go to the dark side. And there will be no one there strong and honest enough to point out his or her sins and mistakes.

It is through Christ that God has set me free. Should I allow a jerk to take hold of my life? Believe me. I’ve got better things to do.

7 thoughts on “Handling Control Freaks

  1. edem v. aquino

    As I read this article, it made me realize that this is the answer I’ve been waiting for regarding the problem I have with my boss. This is so very true because she’s (my boss) really a complete jerk-. And the only way I can move on and not feel miserable with my work is to follow the suggestions you’ve provided. But at the end of the day … just as you’ve said…”I should not allow jerks to take hold of my life and besides we all got better things to do”…I’m not cut-out to make people’s lives miserable…I’m not that kind of person. I was raised well by my parents, got good education and a loving family…I too deserve to be respected. Thanks so much Sir Francis, your articles serves as my morning breakfast- It makes my day complete. God Bless you Sir and more power to you!!!

  2. Joanna Toreja

    i keep on getting amazed by every article I read from your site Sir Francis. Thanks! Watch out y’all control freaks! lol

  3. Melvin Molina

    I have read your article, “Is your boss a jerk?” in a news paper (way back 2009).
    And one of my colleges cut out the clipping and posted it in his work station where our former boss can see it. But still nothing changes, she just ignored it and continue being dumb. 🙂

  4. Jessica

    Mr. Kong, your blog has given me much needed clarity and direction. I’ve been reading your books since high school and I’ve recently graduated from college. I’m now working and, needless to say, dealing with many difficult people and new situations. I’m slowly learning how to deal with them. I have a long way to go and I’ll need a lot of wisdom and motivation, so please don’t stop writing. 🙂

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