Friday, June 2, 2006

Dealing with control freaks

I know, I‘m supposed to be at a conference and not posting. Well, my flight was delayed 10 hours…

One of my favorite expressions from the wiki world is, “That‘s not the wiki way!“ Which is generally delivered in a manner that the receiver is left looking for a table to hide under. Its meaning is clear, “Quit being such a control freak!“ It‘s a not too subtle way of saying that the community needs time to figure out the best solution for all parties concerned, that you have to let the process work.

Anyway, I‘m not sure what got into me, but I decided to Google on the term “control freak”. Darned if the first hit didn‘t contain some really good advice from a Dr. Thomas J. Schumacher, Psy.D., R-CSW:

Some Coping Strategies:

1) Stay as calm as you can. Control freaks tend to generate a lot of tension in those around them. Try to maintain a comfortable distance so that you can remain centered while you speak with them. Try to focus on your breathing. As they get more agitated and demanding, just breath slowly and deeply. If you stay calm and focused, this often has the effect of relaxing them as well. If you get agitated you have joined the battle on their terms.

2) Speak very slowly. Again the normal tendency is to gear up and speak rapidly when dealing with a control freak. This will only draw you into the emotional turmoil and you will quickly be personalizing what is occurring.

3) Be very patient. Control freaks need to feel heard. In fact, they do not have that much to say. They have a lot to say if you engage them in a power struggle. If you just listen carefully and ask good questions that indicate that you have heard them, then they will quickly resolve whatever the issue is and calmly move on.

4) Pay attention to your induced reactions. What is this person trying to emotionally induce in you? Notice how you feel when speaking with them. It will give you important clues as to how to deal with them more effectively and appropriately.

5) Initially, let them control the agenda. But you control the pacing. If you stay calm and speak slowly, you will be in command of the pacing of the conversation.

6) Treat them with kindness. Within most control freaks is a good measure of paranoia. They are ready to get angry and defend against what they perceive is a controlling hostile world. If you treat them with respect and kindness, their paranoia cannot take root. You will jam them up.

7) Make demands on them — especially when dealing with the type 2 control freak. Ask them to send you something or do something for you. By asking something of them, you will be indicating that you are not intimidated or diminished by their behavior patterns.

8) Remember an old but poignant Maxim: “Those who demand the most often give the least.”

Great list! Now I need to keep it with me at all times. (Note to self: transfer this to your phone.)

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