Dealing with people is an inescapable part of daily life. Whether at home, on the job, or out having a good time, we encounter a wide tapestry of people. Occasionally, someone with a controlling personality enters our lives, and we find ourselves challenged as we struggle to maintain our sense of independence and keep our calm. There are, however, a few simple techniques that you can use to help you deal with individuals who clearly have control issues.
Acknowledge the Issue
Individuals generally develop a controlling personality as the result of a lack of control in some part of their lives. People who have experienced trauma, through circumstances they were unable to control, often respond by attempting to control everything that they identify as currently being under their control. Taking a moment to consider the controller's background and perspective will help you to understand them and give you a better idea of how to tackle the issue of their attempts at controlling you. It is also important that you take the time to inventory yourself. Is the individual truly attempting to control you, or are you perhaps misinterpreting their signals. Be honest with yourself as you seek to recognize any signs that you may be overly defensive.
Set Clear Boundaries
This is a very important step and goes a long way to exerting your independence. Decide where the boundaries are and be forthright and clear in communicating them. Take the time to do this as soon as you begin to feel controlled or manipulated. Doing so quickly avoids a negative pattern becoming ingrained in the relationship and alerts the offending individual that you are maintaining your independence free from their control. Setting boundaries may be uncomfortable at first. However, it is often the first step in developing a healthy relationship. Be sure you are respectful of the other person's boundaries as well. This leads to a mutually respectful relationship.
When engaged with the controller, use language that is clear and direct. Any ambiguity may be interpreted as uncertainty on your part and give rise to further attempts at control. Be polite and friendly, but clear and direct. If there is a particular issue that you are concerned about communicating, practice what you might say in front of a mirror. Doing so will help you to be more comfortable in delivering your message. Tip: Use sentences beginning with "I" instead of "you." Beginning with "you" statements puts people on the defensive and may complicate communication.
Be Willing to Walk Away
If the relationship is not improving, it may be best to cut ties and walk away. Give this step careful consideration before acting as there may be significant consequences.