Some people in distress get overly critical about everyone else’s work. They obsess about time, cleanliness, order, and fairness. They get frustrated trying to control everything and everyone, making it miserable to be around them. They can’t seem to see that they are driving people away. They might get compliance from their frightened employees and peers, but they certainly don’t get engagement.
The back story
Behind the scenes, over controllers desperately need positive recognition for their hard work and their valuable time. When they don’t get it positively, they get it negatively by criticizing everyone else’s work and time management. What they don’t realize is that overall, people aren’t stupid and lazy. The real problem is that nobody can control another person, or the events around them. The more you try, the more frustrated you get.
If this is you
The key is for you to accept that you are not in control of anything but your own behavior, attitudes, and thoughts. Focus on doing your job well, sharing your ideas when you have permission to do so, and supporting others in doing their best. Make sure to take regular time off so that you don’t fall victim to believing that your clock, your task list, and the strategy plan are running your life.
Did you know that people who are critical and attacking of others have a higher risk of heart problems? Research shows that people with higher levels of expressed hostility have higher likelihood of having a stroke or heart attack.
- Regularly ask for their ideas and analysis. Be proactive, don’t wait for them to go off the deep end.
- Ask permission for their time, and schedule it whenever possible. Never barge in or demand that they drop everything for your emergency.
- Affirm their hard work, giving specifics about what they accomplished and how it helped improve efficiency, productivity, or progress on a goal.
- Give them all the information they need to do their job. Never withhold information from them, as this directly insults their intelligence and deprives them of the ability to plan.
- Stick to the facts. Avoid small talk with a lot of emotion.
- Whenever possible give them advance notice of a change in plans. They don’t like surprises.
This article is part one in a series on how to communicate with people in distress, starting with six tips for staying sane when others are acting crazy. Read all six articles to discover why people act the way they do in distress, and how you can communicate to make a positive difference.
This series is based on our work using the Process Communication Model, a research-tested framework for understanding and communicating with different personality types, in and out of distress.