10 Signs That You’re A Control Freak (And What To Do About Them)

By Sky Ariella
Nov. 29, 2022
Articles In Life At Work Guide

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A single control freak looming in a work environment or relationship can negatively impact the experience of everyone who has to deal with their tendencies. Being controlling is one of the most despised qualities that a supervisor or co-worker can have because people hate to be micromanaged. It trickles into their lives and often ends up with a hostile work environment.

While professionals who read that might nod along in agreement, many of those nods could be coming from a control freak culprit. People who demonstrate these obsessive and controlling behaviors often have no idea that they’re driving their co-workers up the wall.

To figure out if you’re guilty of this management style, read through the following eight signs to know if you’re a control freak.

Key Takeaways:

  • Not delegating work and needing everything to be done on your schedule are signs of being a control freak.

  • Having trouble maintaining positive professional relationships and having a hard time working as a team can be signs of being a control freak.

  • Take some time and try to understand why you demonstrate control freak behaviors to help you become less of one.

  • It’s important to realize that it’s okay to be imperfect and not everything can be in your control all the time.

Signs That You're A Control Freak (And What To Do About Them)

10 Signs That You’re a Control Freak

  1. Everything has to be done on your schedule. A common indication that a person is a control freak is that everything has to happen on their time. It’s also one of the most infuriating behaviors that come with this type of personality.

    Think back on your recent professional and personal life to a time when you went out of your way to do something according to another person’s timetable.

    If you’re having a difficult time remembering a circumstance where you put your own convenience on the back burner for someone else’s schedule, it might be a sign that you’re being controlling.

  2. You can be moody. Another key sign that you’re a control freak is that your moods quickly shift depending on your circumstances. This means that when something good happens, you feel like absolutely everything is going great.

    However, when one thing goes bad, the whole world comes tumbling down, and you morph into a ball of anxiety.

    This rash reaction to circumstances often comes from feeling out of control. Many people experience a lot of stress around lacking control, which is why they try to control the situation in the first place. Easily shifting moods is often a result of failing to rectify this control.

  3. You refuse to delegate. While the person who does everything themselves without any help is often regarded as a go-getter, this trait also could be a sign of a control freak.

    Turning to other people for assistance at work and home is a natural part of functioning cohesively with other people. Co-workers are an asset, and neglecting them can severely hurt someone’s work performance.

    If your work management style usually involves tackling the majority of your work independently, it could be the beginnings of a controlling personality in the works.

  4. You find yourself judging other people’s habits often. Judgmentalness is a tell-tale sign of a person who struggles with being a control freak. After all, being senselessly judgmental inherently comes from a mindset that seeks to control others.

    Whether these judgments are voiced or kept inside, they can negatively impact a person’s working situation and personal relationships.

    Many people look at their tendency to be judgmental towards their co-workers and friends as a mechanism for helping them, but it’s not. Judgmentalness is not constructive criticism. It’s a destructive behavior that usually attacks aspects of an individual’s work habits or personality in an unwarranted way.

    Finding yourself constantly judging other people might mean that you’re a micromanager or excessively controlling.

  5. You struggle to maintain positive relationships. People who tend to have few positive relationships often throw their hands up in the air and resign to the fact that it’s everyone else’s problem.

    In reality, struggling to maintain positive relationships can mean that you’re demonstrating controlling behavior. This type of conduct is usually unacceptable to friends, partners, and family alike.

    If you’ve noticed a falling out with the majority of your close relationships in your personal life and work, it could very well be due to a demeanor of scrutiny and micromanaging.

  6. You find it difficult to work on a team and coordinate. While some people simply prefer working independently, the complete inability to work on a team speaks to an individual’s controlling nature.

    • Professionals should be able to effectively coordinate with other people at work and home without it turning sour. However, people who require excessive control find it impossible to work with other people because it means giving up some of their authority.

    • This symptom of a controlling personality can be especially destructive to a person’s career because teamwork is required in so many professional environments. In extreme circumstances, this type of behavior can even lead to an employee being terminated from their position because they’re too difficult to work with.

    • If you find it impossible to work well with other people, it could mean that you’re showing signs of being a control freak, which can be detrimental to your appearance at work.

  7. You’re constantly correcting people. Feeling the need to butt in with a correction is a habit that many people pick up. Even if this is coming from a wholesomely informative place, it can seriously annoy the people who are constantly stopped to be corrected and put a strain on relationships.

    Nobody wants to hold their tongue for fear of being corrected with every word they speak.

    A correcting habit can seem small, such as making minor grammar catches, but this can have a huge impact on the way others perceive you. Usually, over-correcting will make you be seen as a micromanager and a control freak to other people.

  8. You’re extremely difficult to please. Having high standards is one thing, but border-lining on impossible to please is another thing entirely. Being difficult to please is a huge sign that someone is a control freak. It’s also a very damaging behavior for a manager to display.

    If employees are coming up short on the supervisor’s expectations time after time, it can make them hardly want to put forth any effort at all.

    If you’re one of those people who constantly find themselves disappointed because nothing is ever good enough, it might be time to look in the mirror and see yourself for what you are – a control freak.

  9. You have been severely hurt in the past. Control issues are often a present manifestation of past pain. Typically, someone who was hurt early in their life, gets that hurt embedded in their central nervous system and it can cause them to control their life.

    While it may be scary to not know the possible outcome of an unknown situation, it’s important to not let the past dictate your present. Take a deep breathe and trust that the past won’t be repeated again.

  10. You always have to have the last word. Control freaks think that they know it all. They often think that they are more practical, intelligent, and logical than everyone else so when they get into arguments, they have to try and win.

    Control freaks will also have a hard time admitting that they are wrong and if they made a mistake. Control freaks will try to shift the blame to someone else and correct someone if that person is wrong. If they don’t have the final say in a argument, they will feel as if that situation is unresolved so will say anything to have the last word.

How to Improve Your Control Freak Ways

It’s unnerving to go down the list of control freaks signs only to realize the majority of them are applicable to you, but all hope isn’t lost yet. Once you’ve recognized yourself as a self-prescribed control freak and micromanager, it gives you the opportunity to change your behavior for the better. Start with the following five ways to improve your controlling ways.

  1. Do some introspection. The only way to cure your controlling conduct for good is to understand why you demonstrate these behaviors. There’s a more complex psychological trigger deep-down behind every negative trait, including being a control freak.

    Perhaps you’re worried about passing the reins of power over to another person because you’ve experienced a lack of control earlier in life, and now you prefer handling everything yourself. Or, maybe it’s a result of low self-esteem or insecurity.

    Figuring out what’s been festering in your subconscious is the best route to solving the problem and lessening your controlling tendencies.

  2. Come up with effective stress reduction methods. One of the most common reasons that people are control freaks is that they’re not dealing with stress properly. They become overwhelmed by anxiety and try to control everything in an effort to expel the stress altogether.

    While this tactic might initially appease a person’s inner stress triggers, it isn’t a long-term solution.

    A great way to indirectly diminish your controlling behaviors is by coming up with more effective stress reduction methods. This channels anxious energy more positively.

    Some examples of healthy methods for coping with stress include:

    • An exercise routine

    • Eating healthier foods

    • Seeing a therapist

    • Finding a hobby to do exclusively when you’re overwhelmed

    • Practicing meditation and mindfulness

  3. Realize that it’s okay to be imperfect. Another reason that many people tend to act in a controlling manner is that they’re perfectionists. Being a perfectionist is actually a severely damaging trait because it often means that the individual needs to take control of everything in order for it to be done a certain way.

    Letting go of the need to be perfect can release a lot of your controlling tendencies as well. Remember that perfection is simply a perspective and that there are numerous routes to reach that outlook.

  4. Make little alterations in your daily actions. While changing your entire work style or personality sounds like a daunting task at first, it doesn’t have to uproot your life. Start with tiny changes in your daily actions that acclimate you to a different way of thinking.

    For example, begin by volunteering yourself for more teamwork-based projects at work or try to stop yourself every time you correct something insignificant that someone said.

    These small alterations can make a huge difference in the way you’re perceived by others at work and home.

  5. Accept what is out of your control. Being a control freak inherently comes from the fear of being out of control. While it’s a scary thought to consider how little control we truly have over our entire lives, you can’t let this reality negatively impact your life.

    Accept the unchangeable things that are out of your control. Moving on from the things that you can’t change is one of the most powerful forms of control that a person can have.

  6. Avoid asserting yourself in other peoples business. Try to avoid micromanaging other people and asserting yourself in others conversation if you think someone is wrong. This will help stop any arguments that might happen and relieve some tension in the office.

    Another way to stay out of other people’s business is to wait for them to come ask you for help. If your coworker is working on a project that you typically work on, avoid telling them how you do it, and wait for them to ask you any questions. They may not need help at all, and that’s okay. Everyone does everything differently.

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Sky Ariella

Sky Ariella is a professional freelance writer, originally from New York. She has been featured on websites and online magazines covering topics in career, travel, and lifestyle. She received her BA in psychology from Hunter College.

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