Characteristics of Controlling People and How to Deal With Them

Some personalities need, to maintain their balance, to exercise a tight control over their surroundings: the company would collapse if they entrusted a director, the wife or husband would be lost if they were left to do the shopping alone, surely the children would go out injured if we don't check them all the time. Why are some obsessed with the need for control? Why are they deeply convinced that they have to lay down the law on everything? Why do you think that your agenda should prevail over that of others? Why do they insist so much that everything always be done their way, even when it is shown that our method is as effective as theirs, if not more?

What are controlling people like? With this article we will discover 10 characteristics of controlling people, and how to deal with them . We will see how controlling, manipulative, possessive and jealous people are, both in relationships and at work and how to deal with such people.

Traits, behaviors and characteristics of controlling people

The main characteristics of controlling and manipulative people are:

  1. Need for control . Several factors (temperament, different experiences, motivation ...) can provoke this urgent need for control: the tendency to control is not an innate trait, but rather an adaptation style.
  2. Anxiety . When a person describes himself as a "control maniac," there is really no innate human propensity to be in control: what exists in a controlling personality is deep anxiety. The newborn and child who perceive that their needs are not met may develop an obsessive adaptive style, anxious for every detail. In fact, the controlling personality protects itself from anxiety by staying as far as possible from that lost, insecure, and bewildered child that he was or that trauma that carries the signals. To prevent this anxiety from oppressing them, crushing them, or worse, manifesting itself a little, they will try to control the people and events around them.
  3. Rigidity . Controllers will have great difficulty negotiating, because they will be totally unable to tolerate imperfection.
  4. Strict compliance with its internalized rules . Individuals with a dominant personality type try to manage every detail of existence, including the people around them. These subjects, as adults, base their self-esteem on satisfying the strict demands and demands of internalized parents, at the expense of who becomes their projective object.
  5. Low tolerance to stress . When a controlling and manipulative person fears that they cannot control events, they experience a lot of stress; He unconsciously believes that only by controlling every aspect of his life and surroundings will he be able to ensure the satisfaction of his needs.
  6. Exhaustion . A difficult life, that of controlling and possessive people, who with the illusion of keeping everything under control feel serene, and meanwhile are continually burdened with weights, responsibilities, even absurd tasks that could be done by anyone.
  7. Problems with self-esteem . These people need "control" because without it they generally feel invaded by the fear that things will end up overcoming and minimizing them, and therefore will be devalued or not recognized, and therefore their life may be ruined.
  8. Feelings of inferiority . At a deeper level, the frequent Grand Ego of the dominant personality, a sense of inferiority and a precarious self-esteem are discussed that can only be managed through the illusion of being able to control and of being able to prevail over all.
  9. Vulnerability . In reality, people who have a great need for control are often vulnerable: either they are their bosses, the organizers, or they feel very uncomfortable. We are not talking about the narcissistic need to be in the center, but about the conviction that only if I do it, I organize it, we are safe, otherwise who knows what could happen.
  10. Contradictory beliefs . There are people, for example, who fly in their little planes, but they would never step on an airliner, because they cannot drive it. They manage to arrive at these paradoxes and also to find an apparent logical explanation for behaviors that for others, on the other hand, obviously represent a contradiction.

Why are there controlling people?

The main cause that people have controlling traits and want to control others is having lived a "controlled" childhood . The origins of the formation of a controlling and manipulative personality must be sought in early childhood: from a certain rigidity in the rhythm of breastfeeding, from excessively severe cleaning training and from very well defined sleep schedules, continuing With meticulous scheduling of all daily activities, the families of the people they control are often dominated by the issue of control. Parents have often been unreasonably pretentious, prematurely solicitous, and / or ready to reproach: all spontaneous activity has been strongly discouraged, for fear that it would bring chaos and disorder. Thus creating controlling and jealous people.

How to deal with controlling people

Considering this overview of the basic characteristics of the personalities they control, it is quite clear that they manifest a series of behaviors that can frustrate and provoke resentment, especially in the people with whom they are most closely related. The problem with living with controlling and anxious people is not having a personalized space and time to express your emotions and desires. Often, someone who is under the control of the other does not feel the need to invent anything or create anything in their daily life, because they are continually "stolen" by the control of others. At work it can have disastrous consequences: a hypercontroller manager can block the creativity of his collaborators and, in the worst case, demotivate them.

How to handle a controlling person? In order not to suffer from control anxiety, it would be necessary to try to decipher these anxious messages that arrive as suffocating. According to Viola (2019), in general, these are the suggestions for relating to highly controlling people:

  • Strive to remain calm, composed and assertive : One of the most common characteristics of aggressive, intimidating and controlling individuals is that they like to deliberately (but often unconsciously) annoy or intimidate you, manipulating your decisions, actions or processes of thought.
  • Keep your distance whenever possible - Another tip for dealing with a controlling person is to keep your distance. Unless something big is at stake in the relationship, don't spend your time trying to deal with a person who is negatively entrenched and who often bounces off a rubber wall.
  • Go from reactive to proactive : Being aware of the nature of aggressive , intimidating and controlling people can help us discredit ourselves from the situation and go from being receptive to assertive and proactive.
  • Stand up for your rights - Aggressive, intimidating, and controlling people tend to deprive you of your rights so they can control and take advantage of you.
  • Try to regain your power : A recurring pattern of these personalities is that they like to focus on the target person, so that they feel uncomfortable or inappropriate. A simple but powerful way to change these dynamics is to put the spotlight on them.
  • In mild situations, use appropriate humor : if used properly and appropriately, humor can illuminate the truth, disarm certain difficult behaviors, and show the interlocutor that you have greater composure. Humor is a good strategy for managing a controlling person at work.
  • In more serious situations, try to spell out what the possible consequences are : the ability to identify and state the consequences of controlling behaviors is one of the most important skills you can use to "discourage" a rigidly controlling person, and probably encourage them. to reflection and, who knows, perhaps to change. You need to put limits on a controlling person in a relationship.

Can a controlling person change?

The actions of the people they control are moved by deep psychological factors, which have to do with their personality structure, and more superficially by the deep conviction that it is necessary to behave in these ways to satisfy their needs and achieve their goals. On the other hand, it is difficult for the control maniac to be aware of having this anxiety: he behaves like this without realizing it . One only realizes that he is being hypercontroller when stimuli of being obsessed with control arrive from others, as if it were a need that cannot be avoided.

Unfortunately, people who live next door to a control freak often drift away, even if they don't want to cause pain, because they can't resist the anxiety of perfection. As a consequence of episodes of this type, it can also happen that people who are overprotective and controlling can overcome their mania for control. Better, however, if they are helped professionally , since alone they could not process the root causes of this perfectionist anxiety that invades the other. Therefore, the best option is psychotherapy for controlling people.