by Suzie Doscher

At work the label is 'Micromanager', at home 'Control Freak'. The Oxford Dictionary defines it as, "a person who feels an obsessive need to exercise control over themselves and others and to take command of any situation."

Where does this behaviour come from?

Difficult or traumatic experiences, usually from the past, make it hard for controlling people to trust, accept help and support, or to relinquish control to others. The attempts to control a situation or environment are designed to offer the controller a feeling of safety. This can be a sign of low self-esteem. In the workplace, delegating is one of the harder skills for a micromanager to learn as fearing failure and trusting no one to do a good job, the micromanager strives to control everything.

One difficult aspect of being around a micromanager is their lack of understanding how their behavior and choice of words affects the people around them. The trick is not to take it personally; their behavior and means of communication are designed to manipulate and need not be taken personally. The attitude comes from deep inside and the person is quite unaware how controlling they are being.

Communicating with a Micromanager

Micromanagers like to manipulate conversations. They do this by deciding what is talked about, for how long, and how deep or detailed a topic can get. The execution is achieved by constantly interrupting, finishing sentences for the other person, not listening with attention and doing distracting things like getting up and walking around.

Micromanagers rarely consider themselves as controlling and are convinced their way is the right way. He or she will have an opinion about almost everything and will disagree with most suggestions that are not their own. Controllers also tend to also control themselves too and you might observe obsessive habits in them.

Here I am considering how you can deal with being in the company of a person who needs to be in control - whether in a private relationship or at work:

1. If someone dominates conversations, allow them to finish. Then, in a calm manner say, "I understand what you're saying and now would like to express my thoughts."

2. If someone continually gives you advice by telling you exactly what you should be doing, again, in a calm manner say, "I value your advice, but I wish to consider my own thoughts on this matter as well."

3. Your goal for establishing a healthier communication pattern with a Control Freak is to eventually "agree to disagree."

4. Express yourself assertively without giving the person the feeling you are telling them what to do. Never try to control a controller.

5. Remain calm and be consistent with controllers. Getting angry does not achieve anything. Control Freaks have no problem with arguments. In fact, they seek power struggles. Remember, in their minds the world should feel, think, do what they deem is right.

6. Remember a Control Freak always looks for a power struggle.

7. Be as consistent as possible with the style in which you communicate. It will require patience and time, but can result in turning the negative communication pattern into one that is more acceptable to you.

8. Accept them for who they are. Distance yourself if possible, if this is not possible, remember: "You can't change people but you can change how you react to them."

9. Maintain the focus on your reactions and communication style.

Knowing what to expect can help you choose how to interact and take care of yourself at the same time.

Suzie Doscher is a Life Coach focusing on Personal Development, Professional Senior Coach with the International Institute of Coaching and Mentoring (IIC & M),, a Certified Facilitator of the Now What?TM Coaching program. For more info about Suzie visit and contact her for a complimentary Introduction to Coaching Call. Check out Suzie's book 'BALANCE - A Practical Handbook for Life's Difficult Moments':