4 Reasons Why Controlling People Are So Hard To Work With


Regardless of how well-meaning they may be, controlling people often end up alienating themselves from their co-workers.

As co-workers, they make you tear your hair out with their rigidity and refusal to compromise. As superiors, they stifle their people with excessive control, withering away others’ autonomy and intrinsic motivation with their micromanaging tendencies.

Worst of all these consequences, though, is that their inability to relinquish control to others ends up rapidly undermining the sense of ownership that is so crucial to precipitating dedication and commitment in the workplace.


Unfortunately, you can’t get away from them. It takes all types, after all; controlling people are an inevitable reality in the working world regardless of how infuriating they can be. Hence, learning to engage productively and constructively with them is a necessity, but it all starts with analysing exactly why they can be such nightmares to work with. To that end, here are 4 reasons why controlling people are so hard to work with.

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1. They don’t see themselves as controlling


Ironically, one of the hallmarks of controlling people is that they don’t see themselves as controlling people. Even in the rare case that they do admit to it, they are much likelier to chalk it up to genuine concern or plain conscientiousness. Consequently, they are often oblivious to the negative impact their behaviour has on others around them.


In fact, it’s not uncommon for them to pay lip service to relatively “democratic” behaviour. In other words, despite their control-freak tendencies, they may like claiming that they’re open to feedback, or that they do give people space at the workplace, precisely because they don’t realise how controlling they actually are.



2. They give excuses when confronted with criticism


When they’re finally confronted with criticism, though, they tend to be highly unreceptive to it. Often, it might feel like they have a whole arsenal of ready-made excuses to throw back at those criticising them, including:

  • “If I don’t do this, everyone will be lost”
  • “You just can’t handle being criticised”


The latter excuse might sound particularly ironic, given their own un-receptiveness.

Again, though, it boils down to them refusing to accept the fact of their behaviour. This can make them particularly difficult to work with. Having a weakness is one thing, but refusing to admit to it and persisting in that weakness despite repeated feedback can easily result in a very toxic and resentful working environment that no one looks forward to.



3. They can’t adapt to new methods, perspectives, and strategies


Part of the reason why controlling people are the way they are is that they’re ultimately fearful of the unpredictability of change. It’s not surprising then, that such people often have great difficulty adjusting and adapting to new environments, perspectives, and strategies. Instead, they tend to prefer sticking to tried-and-tested and relatively more traditional methods.


While this may not sound like such a bad thing, it also means that they often resist innovation. In a world has hyper-dynamic and volatile as the current digital age we live in, this spells disaster.



4. They are often hypercritical and prone to micromanaging


The single most universal sign of a control freak is their tendency towards being hypercritical and prone to micromanaging. Because of their sheer insistence that things have to be done a certain way, they tend to nitpick and be overly critical of those around them in ways that aren’t just awkward or uncomfortable, but rude and insensitive too.


Research has also shown that such micromanaging behaviours can quickly erode trust, employee engagement, and employee retention. At the end of the day, people don’t leave bad jobs, they leave bad bosses.


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