Are You Too Controlling?

Sometimes a nurturing person can inadvertently become too controlling. Take this simple quiz to find out where you fit on the scale.

In an effort to keep things running smoothly and to protect loved ones from harm, we sometimes become over zealous in an effort to do what we feel is our duty. Erecting boundaries, collecting information, and pushing others to do their jobs may seem like healthy characteristics. Sometimes they are, but at other times they can become the hallmark of someone who wants to control others.

A controlling person may not mean to be that way. Chances are he or she intends only good things to happen from efforts to manage situations and people. Yet even good intentions can go awry, so take this opportunity to find out if you may be coming across as too pushy to some folks:

1. Do you feel like most people don't do quite as good a job as you do?

2. Do you try to help others meet their goals whether they ask your assistance or not?

3. Do you worry that things will fall apart without a firm guiding hand?

4. Do you feel that other people often let you down or disappoint you?

5. Do you believe that someone needs to step up and take charge in most situations?

6. Do you try to push people to do the right thing, even when they're reluctant or unsure?

7. Do you have higher than average standards for yourself?

8. Were you unfairly judged, criticized, or manipulated by an authority figure, such as a teacher or parent, in your past?

9. Do you feel that most people don't live up to their potential?

10. Do you compulsively dislike messiness, disorder, or an erratic schedule?

If you can answer "yes" to four or more of the above, your personality may have some controlling traits towards the people around you. It may be that you are generally eager to fix problems as they appear or you may want to try and get people to follow your standards because they seem to be better than those currently being followed.

Whatever your take on someone else's situation, here are a few tips to help you intervene gracefully rather than forcefully in a controlling fashion:

1. Offer help only when it is clearly needed, rather than constantly look for problems or weaknesses to address.

2. Wait for your help to be asked in most instances. If people know your strengths and your willingness to be of assistance, they won't hesitate to ask.

3. Make suggestions rather than give orders. While you may not intend to sound imperious, an expectant tone or compelling argument for someone to do something may come across as demanding.

4. Accept criticism yourself. Ask people's opinions and accept suggestions graciously. Be a good sport when someone catches a mistake, and thank the person for pointing it out.

5. Be silent. There may be times when it is best to avoid interfering with someone. While you may have a better way of doing things, give someone else a chance to figure it out on their own or to decide to ask for help. They'll appreciate it that way.

Being a controlling person can lead to damaged relationships. Take inventory of your character now to see if this troubling trait is among those that need to be eliminated. You also may want to browse a book or two on the subject. Check the local library or online book shops.

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