Strategy 1 – Be On Their Team
The first thing to understand about a Control Freak is that they are incredibly loyal. They might never say to you, well done or what a great job you’ve been doing, but you can bet they are telling other people you’re great and if anyone else dares to criticises you, they will defend you vehemently. Control Freaks are front players in a team and they will support their team to the end. Cross them however, and they will rally the team and their supporters against you – so it is in your interest to be on their team especially if that Control Freak is an important influence in your life. If it’s someone you keep doing battle with, use the example below to inspire your own strategy to get them on-side working with you instead of against you.
A client (Claire) had a strained relationship with her mother in law, she was having to deliberately practice being patience and bite her tongue. Claire and Tom had been married for 15 years, so Claire probably did know Tom as an adult better than his mother and felt justified in ‘knowing what was best’, but his mother persistently advised Claire about their relationship and how to ‘handle’ Tom.
This was causing Claire tension, Claire would complain to Tom but Tom didn’t see the problem. Tom’s mother and Claire both loved Tom and both had strong personalities, but Claire felt like her mother in law still treated her as an outsider after 15 years. Tom had an older brother and his wife was best of friends with the mother in law, so Claire decided to ask her how she did it when Claire was getting so wound up about it. Her sister in law smiled when she asked, she said “I use to have exactly the same problem, she wouldn’t accept me for years, she interfered in our marriage and thought it was her right to have a say in how we lived our lives. One day, not long after my eldest was born, it got so bad, I snapped one day and decided I had to do something about it.
All I did though was change my attitude towards her, I realised she considered herself the matriarch in the family, old fashioned I know, but that’s just how she is and I started to treat her as such and asked her advice and opinion about things. They were little things of not much consequence or if I really didn’t know what to do, I would ask her instead of keeping her at arm’s length because I didn’t want her to have the satisfaction. I decided to invite her into our lives instead of trying to keep her out, it seemed easier. I don’t always follow her advice, but that doesn’t seem to matter, making her feel as her opinion was valued it changed her attitude towards me completely and now she can’t do enough for me and asks my opinion about things would you believe. It certainly has made ilife much easier, she can be a difficult woman when she wants to be”
Claire decided to give it a go, after all it couldn’t do any damage, and so the next time she was booking a table at a restaurant for the family to get together for Sunday Lunch, instead of getting into the usual ‘can’t do right for doing wrong’ battle Claire phoned her Mother in Law and asked where she thought they ought to go? Her Mother In Law was delighted at being included in the decision and at the Sunday lunch Claire noticed a definite shift in her Mother In Law’s attitude and she actually chose to sit next to Claire and they did have a lovely relaxed time. It didn’t really matter to Claire where they had lunch and quietly she had to admit it was nice not to have the responsibility of getting it ‘right’ or spend hours in negotiation of where to go.
Afterwards Tom said to Claire “what have you done to my mother, anyone would think you were best buddies today”!
So your first lesson in how to deal with controlling people is learn how to get on their team and have them on-side. It is totally within your power to make yourself likeable to them, but it does mean dropping your own ego – remember the greater goal and purpose of your humility. Being right isn’t always the most important outcome.
Keep your eyes on the prize and follow the tips and strategies coming to you over the next nine days, you will not only be on their Christmas card list this year, you will be on the sub-list that gets the best cards!