Controlling Personalities in the Workplace

Controlling people tend to make sure their opinion is always heard.
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You've probably worked with one: the person who seems to know everything and insists that you do your job her way. While controlling people are rarely pleasant to work with, they do bring something to the table. And although you may be forced to share that table, you can strategize to make sure you don't feel like a television remote in their hands.

Controlling Bosses

    Controlling bosses aren't just a pain in the derriere; they're harmful to productivity. These folks are micromanagers, hovering over your shoulder to make sure you've added just the right colors to the bar graph you're preparing for the annual report. Cope with this behavior by offering your boss progress reports to allay her fears. Take notes when she gives instructions so she can see you're on top of the game. While her controlling behavior may not disappear, it is likely to lessen.

Controlling Colleagues

    Possibly more infuriating than a controlling boss is a co-worker who decides to provide input every time you go to the copy machine. "Make sure you don't make over 50 copies," she reminds you, before walking over to make sure you haven't accidentally touched the wrong button. Try taking the advice of psychiatrist and author Judith Orloff, who recommends saying something along the lines of, "I value your advice, but I really want to work through this myself."

Controlling Employees

    If you're a manager, you know that employees with controlling personalities can be exasperating. Not only do they tend to alienate co-workers, but they often behave as though they can do your job better than you can. Curb your annoyance and take advantage of a controlling person's tendency toward perfectionism. Give her a special project to work on that you need help with and set firm boundaries, letting her know when she's crossed the line. Avoid getting into a power struggle with such an employee. Refuse to be intimidated and stick to your guns. Work to promote a positive work environment in which the controlling employee's tendency to criticize others will stand out like a sore thumb, perhaps enticing her to curb her perfectionist behavior.


    Controlling people, while annoying, have traits that can be valuable in a business environment. They are often workaholics. It is not uncommon to find the controlling person working late to impress the boss or volunteering for extra projects. This can be a boon to both management and co-workers who'd rather spend their Saturdays hiking or chilling on the sofa. Their perfectionism comes in handy when the auditor is paying a visit, for example. Their attention to detail can save the day.

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