SELF-CARE around Controllers (Part 2)

stand my ground

& still be at peace

PREVIOUS: Self-care, Internal #1



If you HAVE to deal with a Controller (cont)

1. INTERNALLY : for YOU (cont)
Wait before responding to a text, call or email.
Write out what you want to say & then leave it alone for a little bit, to think thru the consequences. If you still want to send it / say it – condense it into simple sentences – short, declarative & to the point, using ‘I’ statement, from your Adult voice

• Set your own time schedule for discussions with a C. or to deal with a need or upset of theirs. Your time is yours to control – NOT them (most of the time 🙃)

• Spend time away from the C. Taking regular breaks is important for mental health.  Do things you enjoy even if the C. isn’t supportive.

Eliminate Controllers from your life whenever possible. They are energy & self-esteem vampires to be ‘put in the light’ & let go of!

2. EXTERNALLY – dealing With THEM
Ask questions – objectively & without anger. Try to find out what they’re frustrated about, what they really want & why, to minimize misunderstandings.  This shows them the same respect that you want

Avoid arguing. It’s best to just let the C. carry on until they’re run out of steam. As hard as it is to “zip the lip”, if you just listen without responding, eventually most people will feel ashamed &
contrite for carrying on so, especially when their outburst actually had nothing to do with you. This puts you back in control

• Be a careful listener (unless you’ve heard the same thing over & over!). It’s easy to tune out when you’re with someone annoying or aggravating. Repeat back what they’ve said & check to see if it’s correct. This reassures them you understand their point or what they need from you –  especially at work. BUT it doesn’t mean you have to agree or do it!

Be clear & mean what you say, so they’ll know you’re serious
Be very firm that you’re NOT going to be pushed around. Say NO & stick to it even if you feel scared.
Most of the time it turns out ok, but some people can’t tolerate hearing ‘no’, so you have to get away from them as soon as you realize they’re not safe

Don’t let them talk down to you. It’s insulting & belittling
Emphasize positive things about yourself & let them know all the good decisions you make on a regular basis

Pick your battles. Unless a topic directly affects you, don’t comment. You can appear to agree & still keep to your own ideas – quietly
Point out when their way is unacceptable. It’s NOT wise to use emotions-ladened phrases like “It makes me uncomfortable”, because they’re likely to use it against you

• If a C. ‘keeps you around’ – whether it’s personal or professional – it means they need you for something! That can give you the upper hand, even if neither of you really like each
Don’t be afraid to remind the C. that you have value & want to treated with respect

• If the situation warrants it, & it doesn’t hurt you, explain that you want to be a part of the solution, & willing to work with the C. once you understand fully what’s needed

• In a disagreement or argument, stick to your point and the current topic – don’t let them sidetrack you. Write or tape confrontations, to get clear AND have proof

• Try getting them to switch roles with you for a few minutes. You play the controller & they play you. Then discuss the results.
Switch the focus away from what’s wrong with you, & get them talking about themselves or on the issue in question. They’ll like that!
Remember – you’re not responsible for their perspective, but it might give you some insight into their motivation, so you’ll be better able to sidestep or deflect their controlling-ness next time

NEXT: Over-Controlling OURSELVES – #1

4 thoughts on “SELF-CARE around Controllers (Part 2)

  1. Hi Donna, thanks again for another very useful post. I also read your list of responses to controlling people, and would like to leave a few of my own that I’ve found pretty effective.

    What I often say nowadays when I detect a boundary problem is, “I find that confusing.” or “I’m confused by that.” I might also use the words “mystified” or “concerned.” If things go well, the other person will be “drawn into” examining my confusion, or concern, or mystification… (“you said this when I meant that”). This approach has definitely worked for me a number of times. I think it helps the other party feel non-blamed and so I avoid defensive reactions that can occur when I express my boundaries more directly. I think the other side feels they’re being given the benefit of the doubt and they’re receiving an invitation to “trouble-shoot.” If they take it up, sometimes we can get to the bottom of the issue with little conflict and even meet everyone’s needs.

    When this approach doesn’t work, I haven’t said or done anything that prevents me from saying, “Okay, now that I’ve had a chance to process my confusion, this is what i hear happening and now I’m going to use stronger language to defend my boundaries.”


    • Thanks Sibylle. Many yrs ago people (not friends) used to say “You’re crazy”. When I got tired of that I finally figured out to respond, “Yes, but I’m never boring!”.


  2. I am getting a little tired of telling you this resonates with me 😉

    It reminded me immediately of a woman who was my manager’s line manager and a destroyer of teams (I’d witnessed her over a number of years breaking teams up and I always felt uncomfortable when she was around). Me and my boss (who is now my lovely husband) upset her and were leaving her employ soon (partly because sleeping with you boss is not good practice!). On my last but one day, 30 mins before home time she came into our office demanding I meet with her in the room next door to explain a complaint she’d received about me.

    I refused (first time my A2 had taken over from my A1 who’d always handled these types of situations up till then). I was scared but stuck to my guns and carried on refusing. She stormed off telling me to be at her desk 9am next morning! Guess who didn’t do as she was told…ME!

    The NHS trust pursued me for several months, making my life hell. But I survived and they eventually backed down as they had no evidence to back their outlandish claims.

    Thank you for describing so well, as usual, what happens for us when we are controlled.


    • Re: “I am getting a little tired of telling you this resonates with me”

      but I never get tired of hearing it! 🙂
      Glad you stuck it out & won. I’m sure having support helped!


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.