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15 Questions to Reveal a Controlling Personality Instantly

Wondering if someone you know is really a control freak? Just ask these questions and the controlling personality will shine through in no time!

controlling personality

Controlling people get a bad rap. When a controlling person is being discussed, it isn’t too uncommon to hear, “Oh, that person is controlling. Let’s avoid him/her like the plague.” Sure, it can be a lot to handle at times, but controlling people aren’t necessarily terrible people—just like laid-back people aren’t always such a joy to be around. Everyone has their pros and cons, and every personality type is a little different.

When it comes to dealing with a controlling person, there should be some consideration. What you say or do might yield an unwelcome reaction, and you might get caught like a deer in the headlights. Knowing how to handle them is half the battle, but identifying a controlling person is the first step. They’re hidden in plain sight, so knowing what to ask them can give away their personality type.

Personality revelation – How to recognize a controlling personality

Personality types are often difficult to detect. Here, we have compiled 15 questions to help reveal a controlling personality.

#1 “Do you prefer working alone, or with others?” This question seems harmless enough, but what you’re really asking is, “Do you play well with others?” If they’re a controlling person, they’re either going to prefer working alone, or they’re going to try to lead the others. This is a sign that if they’re in a relationship, they might try to run the show.

#2 “You care for others’ needs, but do you take it personally when they don’t spend as much time worrying about yours?” This is a bit of a contradiction: controlling people have complete control of their lives and don’t want help, usually, but they do take it personally when people don’t worry about them, either. If they put in the effort to help those around them, they expect the same in return—even if they don’t accept the help being offered.

#3 “Do you spend a lot of time making sure things are neat?” Keeping a neat place is a blessing, sure, but when you’re completely OCD about it at all times, you might have a bit of a control issue. It’s OK to be messy every now and then. It’s OK to toss things around when you first walk in the door. Put it away later, after you’ve changed, pulled your hair up, gotten a drink of water, etc.

#4 “Would you have a problem with a messy partner?” This is a major red flag; a control freak will take their partner’s messiness as a direct offense, and will get irritated, since they keep themselves in order. It’s a bit like a tornado coming in and undoing everything you’ve cleaned up. Neat people can stand a messy partner, or at least handle it. A controlling person, however, might be overly serious about cleanliness. [Read: 16 ways to handle controlling behavior in a relationship]

#5 “What are you like when you don’t get your way?” Huge question, because how you handle losing is a direct reflection of who you really are, deep down. If someone pouts and sighs, then gives up and lets it go, it’s normal. On the other hand, if someone gets resentful, brings the incident up continuously, or shows anger, and tries to convince the other person to give them what they want, they might be a little too controlling.

#6 “Do you ever do or say certain things to get people to change their minds?” The art of persuasion is a powerful thing. Using it when the time is right is key. It’s OK, in certain situations, to persuade. Unfortunately, if you’re controlling, you’ll probably abuse this ability. Every single time someone doesn’t agree with something you say, you’re going to fight it and try to get them to join your “team.” [Read: 10 ways to handle dating someone with anger issues]

#7 “Would you say you give people unsolicited advice, or constructive criticism?” Advice is nice, but sometimes, all you need to do is listen and let people vent. If someone wants advice, they’ll ask for it. A controlling person won’t see it this way; instead, anything you say will be taken to mean that you’re asking them to direct you, change you, and “improve” you. It doesn’t come from a bad place—it’s just how they process information. They’re used to leading.

#8 “Do you depend on others or ask for help often?” Controlling people do not depend on others, and do not ask for help. They find it demeaning, as if to say that they’re not in control of something, and are therefore failing at who they are as a person. It takes a lot to make a controlling person admit this, and they will do anything—even risk failure—to avoid asking for help.

#9 “Admitting when you’re wrong is difficult, wouldn’t you agree?” Again, this particular question reveals how uncomfortable being wrong actually makes them feel. Someone with a controlling personality won’t enjoy admitting they’re wrong, because that means they weren’t in control of a situation they thought they could handle. It admits defeat. Chances are, they’ll try to cover up the question by changing the subject.

#10 “Would you say you’re trustworthy?” This is a tough question. Everyone wants to be considered trustworthy, but not everyone is. In fact, it’s easier to find people who aren’t trustworthy. Now, when asked this question, both controlling people, and laid-back people, will probably answer yes. The difference is that the laid-back people will leave it at that, while the controlling people will bring up examples to prove their trustworthiness. Neither reaction is wrong, or right—it’s just a reaction. [Read: 5 unique traits that make a person trustworthy and reliable]

#11 “Do you hold grudges?” Laid-back people will forget things that happened a while ago, and may even befriend those who have wronged them in the past. Controlling people…not so much. They may hold grudges, to the point where they will bring the issue up every time that person is mentioned. Many controlling individuals would go so far as to ignore them, if they were to see them again.

#12 “When under pressure, is it easier to be irritable, or angry?” Pressure brings out the beast in all of us, laid-back or not. When under pressure, controlling people tend to get antsy, irritable, or even angry, since they feel the weight of what they consider to be an impending loss. They don’t like to lose, so they will do everything to avoid that. Their level of stress intensifies during this planning and handling of the issue—hence the anger.

#13 “Do you get irritable when something doesn’t go your way, like when someone makes you late for something?” Remember that question of playing well with others (#1)? This is why controlling people dislike working with others, usually. People don’t always meet their expectations of excellence, so they get irritable when something happens that sets them back, or ruins a plan.

#14 “When arguing with a partner, do you bring up past mistakes, events, or points, to further your current argument?” This is the equivalent of a “low blow,” or “hitting below the belt,” although it can be done in a polite, unintentional way. Controlling people don’t usually retain this information to make you uncomfortable; they simply excel at retaining valuable information. They observe. When a situation arises where something seems relevant, then they use it, but they’re not always trying to come off rough. It depends on the issue. [Read: Relationship arguments – 22 do’s and don’ts to remember]

#15 “When you feel disconnected from your partner, how do you usually fix things?” This is a very revealing question, but sounds simple enough. A lot of insight can come from this question. When people feel disconnected from their partner, different courses of action can be taken.

Those with low self-esteem will retreat and hide from the world, leaving it up to you to “fix things.” Laid-back people will let it all blow over, apologize, and carry on. Control freaks will be different: they will have a hard time admitting they’re wrong, but they won’t scold you for being wrong, either. If anything, they may seek to do damage control, and pick up the pieces themselves. As leaders, they will feel it’s up to them to initiate “the fixing of things.” They will try to make you feel better, and will go above and beyond what’s needed to make it happen.

If you, or someone you know, is involved with someone controlling, remember it’s not the end of the world. Controlling people aren’t terrible people—they just enjoy being in control a lot more than the rest of us do.

Remember, in these situations, it is best to keep cool, and keep a safe distance, so as to not put yourself directly in their line of fire. If that ship has sailed, and the situation is getting heated, you must keep one thing in mind: logic beats everything. Even the most controlling person will back down if you logically prove your point, in a calm manner. For instance, knowing your fundamental human rights, such as the right to express your feelings, or the right to have different opinions than others, will be handy.

[Read: 30 alpha male characteristics that make you a real alpha]

Controlling people aren’t ill-intentioned; they’re just intense about everything they do. Knowing how to interact and keep the peace is of the utmost importance if you are involved with a controlling personality.

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Jennifer Mendez
Jennifer is a writer, director, consultant and author, with a passion for all things literary. While she works on a variety of projects at a time, her one true ...
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