How Controlling Are You?

We all know them…people who MUST CONTROL EVERYTHING. Perhaps it’s the mother-in-law whom you secretly call “Controller of the Universe,” or the boss at work who has to have a hand in every little detail of your work, or the parent who directs every aspect of their child’s life. However well-meaning controlling people might be, their actions often result in alienation, resentment and a lack of intimacy with loved ones. When they have a choice, people don’t usually like to be around controlling individuals.

According to The Leadership Circle©, the downside of the “Controlling” reactive behavior suggests that you strive to take charge, be on top, and exert control over others in order to gain self-worth, personal safety, and identity. You see the world as made up of winners and losers, where powerful people stand the best chance. So, in order to survive, you must be one of them.

Take this quiz to see how controlling you might be.

  1. It aggravates me when others don’t want to do something the way I suggest; I’m only trying to help them.
  2. I’d rather do most things myself. 
  3. Others probably describe me as driven and rarely satisfied. I admit to being a perfectionist.
  4. When I’m in a relationship, I want to know where my significant other is all the time.
  5. I know what’s best for others; that’s why they should listen to what I have to say.
  6. When watching television with others, I have to have the remote. Similarly, when in a car with others, I feel uncomfortable unless I’m the driver.
  7. I am easily irritated, especially by others’ incompetence or rebelliousness.
  8. It bothers me when others question or disagree with me.
  9. I find it difficult to relax, laugh or be spontaneous.
  10. I like to take charge.
  11. Failure is not an option.
  12. I have a strong need to compete and see things as either “winning” or “losing”.
  13. I often put results ahead of others’ feelings.
  14. I set very high (some might say unrealistic) standards of performance for others.
  15. When things seem “out of control”, I am quick to blame others or even myself.

If you answered true more often than false, you may wish to examine where your urge to control is coming from. Most often, fear is the deep culprit. Learning how to approach and handle fear in a positive manner helps us accept others—and ourselves—better.

According to Jennifer Garvey Berger, in her Book: “Unlocking Leadership Mindtraps”, one of the keys to unlocking our need for control, is to shift our thinking from control to influence. Can we be thoughtful about how we support the emergence of the things we want. Thinking about influence is to consider what seems to enable the direction you most desire. Thinking about enablers helps us resist thinking about causes. When we open our horizons to direction rather than destination, and to influence rather than control, we can begin to open ourselves up to more experimentation and ultimately greater possibilities.

If you are struggling with a need for control or your controlling behavior is no longer working for you, I’m here to help. Please call Linda at 416-617-0734 or email

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