Controlling People

I don’t know if I am the only person who has noticed that almost all of the conflicts in most any situation are caused by controlling individuals.  What is it about people that they are constantly in need of being the ones who call all the shots?  Sometimes it is necessary to give in, but these people feel that they have to always have it their own way.  More often than not they also somehow manage to rationalize that it is for the good of all. 

One way I have noticed a hint that someone is “controlling” is when he or she  says my name.  My given name is Richard and everyone knows of all of the various options for nicknames:  Rick, Ricky, Rich, Richie, Dick, Dicky, etc..  Needless to say, some of the aforementioned are less than compatible with what I am willing to accept and in my almost sixty years I have come to terms with the fact that sometimes I have to tell people what they can and cannot call me. 

I really don’t mind Richard that much, I actually like the name.  In my professional life I have almost always introduced myself as “Rich.”  My immediate family, sister, mom, etc., have always called me “Rick” and even “Ricky” when I was little.  I have no problem with either Rich or Rick, much to the dismay of my wife who truly doesn’t understand how I could be like that.  The fact is that I like Rick but never liked the sound of it followed by my last name with begins with a “k.” 

I have, in my professional life, dealt with most of my colleagues who call me “Rich.”  It seems to me, and perhaps I am wrong, but one should call a person what he or she wants to be called.  It is a logical way of dealing with things.  I have had many professional acquaintances, mainly my superiors, who call me “Richard” which is fine, but frankly I must say that a flag (albeit not totally red) goes up when someone habitually addresses me that way.  I have almost always found that the individual who does that has issues with control, issues that seem to appear to me sooner or later.

I have pondered the issue of this control for a long time.  I have come to the conclusion that the root of this control is, in fact, related to these individuals and their own feelings of self worth.  Their doubts (which are generally kept under wraps) force them to have the need to be the ones who must have their way.  It is sad, but a fact.  I have also noticed that the amount of times that this need for control surfaces is quite frequent.  

As a French teacher, I was often in situations with other teachers where compromise was necessary.  I was, for many years, one of eight French teachers and we all did our best to deliver our instruction to the best of our abilities and with (at least in my head) the students’ main interests in mind.  The countless times that I allowed my colleagues to have their own way told me so much about so many of my peers.  When you stand back and look objectively at what we were trying to do and whether or not their supposed needs were really worth fighting over, you often find out they are not.  I gave in, if you could call it that.  In the end, I was the winner because in the end I could go into my classroom and perhaps modify ever so slightly or even more and achieve what I thought was the main goal.  I saved  myself from a large amount of aggravation in doing so.

Another thing you can notice about these people is that often they cannot accept new ideas from you unless they believe they personally came up with them.  Their egos are so fragile that you have to be smart enough to make them believe they came up with the idea on their own.  This happens more often with superiors than with colleagues and it has occurred more than once in my life.  My only regret here is that I wish I had learned this sooner!

In the age of technology, there is a new tact controlling people take as well.  They don’t respond to communications.  It is easy now to do that since we are barraged by so many angles with communication.  I myself, in order to protect myself from being “pushed around” will use this tact, if I need to, to deal with people.  I am not proud of this, but sometimes even those of us who are objective and logical have to deal with things as we see fit.

In my post-retirement, pretirement phase of my life the one thing I have noticed is that there are so many people who use the non-responding angle to deal with their lives, to the point of being totally impolite.  In my job of informing people of the language laboratory software I was proposing, I have had to contact numerous teachers/administrators/IT people with information.  As a person who had a very busy life as a teacher in a classroom with many different hats and responsibilities outside of that, I am always cognizant of the fact that I don’t want to needlessy bother and/or annoy people with needless drivel.  I will say, however, that the overuse of non-communication is frightening.  During my tenure at the language lab company, I was sent more than once, at great expense to a large school system in upstate New York.  Once I did an in-house presentation of our language lab capabilities with my boss.  This required flights, rental cars, hotels, meals, etc.  To further this, we even went again to present to more people within the school.  I finally was asked to visit with our demo equipment and allow the teachers and students to experience this.  Costly, for sure was this venture, all done with the knowledge that perhaps it might not succeed in the sales arena.  My gripe is simple, after all this, we waited a bit and I contacted the point person by phone.  No response. I contacted by e-mail. No response.  I am sure that I even did this more than once.  The person who didn’t respond is a seemingly nice person with whom we had a great personal experience.  This person is apparently so stressed out that she doesn’t feel it necessary to respond. How sad!

Why am I going  through telling all of this?  I hope to save someone else from misunderstanding what happens to all of us on a daily basis.  It is silly, impolite, and unnecessary.  It does happen more often than not, though.  The sooner we all understand it, and its roots, the easier it is to deal with.

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