Have you ever heard the phrase, “Don’t sweat the small stuff… and It’s all small stuff?” Or better yet did you read the best-selling book with the same name? It’s been so successful that a version with this premise has been written regarding the workplace. I have enjoyed both so much and found some of the suggestions to be extremely valuable and worth repeating. The one I’d like to discuss today advises on the issue of dealing with controlling behaviors in the workplace.
When I talk about being “controlling,” I am referring to attempts to manipulate the behavior of others, having the need to control the environment, insisting on having things be “just so” in order to feel secure. When things do not go as the controller would like he (she) becomes immobilized, defensive or anxious when other people don’t behave as wanted–the way they think they should be. To put it in the context of this book people who are controlling “sweat the behavior” of others when it doesn’t match their own expectations.
I have made several observations about people who are controlling; two in particular. First, there are too many of them. Second, the trait of being controlling is highly stressful–both to the controller and to those who are being controlled. If you want a more peaceful life, it is essential that you become less controlling.
A person who is controlling carries a great deal of stress because, not only does he (or she) have to be concerned with his own choices and behavior, but in addition, he insists that others think and behave in certain ways as well. While occasionally we can influence another person, we certainly can’t force him to be a certain way. To someone who is controlling, this is highly frustrating.
Obviously, in business, there are many times you want to have a meeting of the minds, or you need others to see things as you do. You have to sell yourself and your ideas to those you work with. In certain instances, you must exert your opinions, influence, even power to get something done. There are times you must insist on getting your way or think of clever and creative ways to get others to think differently. That is all part of business. And that is absolutely not what I’m referring to here. We’re not talking about healthy, normal attempts to come to a meeting of the minds or balancing points of view. We’re also not talking about not caring about the behavior of others we are discussing the ways that insistence, rigidity, and the need to control translates into pain and stress.
What hurts the controlling person is what goes on inside. The key element seems to be a lack of willingness to allow other people to fully be themselves, to give them space to be who they are, and to respect–really respect–the fact that people think differently. Deep down, a controlling person doesn’t want other people to be themselves, but rather the image of who they want them to be. But that’s not real life now is it? So, if you‘re tied to an imagined image, you’re going to feel frustrated and impotent a great deal of the time. A controlling person assumes that he knows what’s best. Within the need to control, there is a genuine lack of respect for the opinions and ways of others.
The only way to become less controlling is to see the advantages of doing so. You have to see that you can still get your way when it is necessary, yet you will be less personally invested. In other words, less will be riding on other people being, thinking, or behaving in a certain way. This will translate into a far less stressful way of being in the world. When you can make allowances in your mind for the fact that other people see life differently than you do, you will experience far less internal struggle.
In addition, as you become less controlling, you will be a lot easier to be around. You can probably guess that most people don’t like to be controlled. It’s a turnoff. It creates resentment and adversarial relationships. As you let go of your need to be so controlling, people will be more inclined to help you; they will want to see you succeed. When people feel accepted for who they are rather than judged for who you think they should be, they will admire and respect you like never before.
Hope you find this advice to be truly worthwhile!