QBQ! reader:

My friend quit his job because his supervisor was so controlling. Several more employees left, too.

The supervisor’s still there.

Controlling people—at work and home—don’t know the damage they cause …

Emotional connections are severed. Hurts are hardened. Colleagues, friends, siblings, and offspring drift away. Relationships die.


Solution: emotional maturity.

Mature people—accountable people—ask The Ultimate QBQ: “How can I let go of what I cannot control?”

Controlling people—immature people—never ask that question.

There’s no looking in the mirror.

That’s sad, too. Life is so much better when I let go.

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About John G. Miller

John G. Miller is the author of QBQ! The Question Behind the Question, Flipping the Switch: Unleash the Power of Personal Accountability, Outstanding! 47 Ways to Make Your Organization Exceptional and co-author of Parenting the QBQ Way. He is founder of QBQ, Inc., an organizational development firm based in Colorado dedicated to “Helping Organizations Make Personal Accountability a Core Value.” A 1980 graduate of Cornell University, John has been involved in the training and speaking industry since 1986. He lives in Denver, Colorado with his wife, Karen. They have seven children and three grandchildren.

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18 Responses to “JUST99WORDS: Know Any Controlling People?”

  1. Kate

    Love this post. I come from a family who are a bit of control freaks- myself included. Over the past few years I have worked very hard to “let go” of the things I have no control over. It makes such a huge difference in your life. I’m able to actually enjoy things! It also helps me realize that most of the time when my family gets mad over a decision someone has made… it’s because they don’t have any control over it.
    Thanks for the reminder!

  2. qbqjohn

    Kate, kind of you to write. I know exactly what you mean, I do! Letting go, good stuff!

  3. Colleen Kobe

    I’m a grown woman and I’ve cried myself to sleep over the past year and a half because my control-freak boss makes me miserable. Really, Boss, do you need to know when I use the bathroom?!?

  4. Bob

    Good Afternoon,

    While my comment is a general one, I have to say that I really enjoy the JUST99WORDS emails. I use them as a work break treat and a way to in get my mind thinking about those little… but very important things that make us personally better or that I can use to make my team better at what we do. Thanks again for this wonder stroke of brilliance.

  5. Sara

    I’ve left three great jobs, with great pay and benefits because of someone that is controlling, mircromanages. The company advertises all the time. Now I know why. It appears that no one can work with this person. I actualy had someone at my personal bank say to me, ” No one can work for her. I’m not certain why they keep her?”

  6. kathyswarthout

    I left a good job because of controlling boss. He called the surgeon who was to do carpal tunnel repair and told him I only needed three days off to recuperate (instead of the required six weeks); The boss threatened to fire me because I did not return until the surgeon signed the release to go back to work. I had been there seven years, but this was the last straw. However, I cannot “quit” my family who verbally attack me and tell lies about me because they cannot make me follow their liberal political thinking. How can I get them to just back off and let me think for myself?

    • John G. Miller

      Kathy, that’s a tough situation with the family. So sorry. Stay strong, but stay “quiet” – as I’ve learned very few of these political arguments in a family can be “won.” Walk away, do something productive! With a smile. :-)

  7. Paul Simeon

    Outside of work, its called “helicopter parents.” Parents who try to control what team little Johnny plays for, how many minutes a game, etc.

  8. Steve Crawford

    If we are honest with ourselves, our control issue(s) have roots in either pride or fear. Letting go sounds easy, but we have to replace it (whatever it is) with something. We need to replace pride and fear with humility and confidence. It is an everyday task. Otherwise, the bad habits creep back into our lives.

  9. Rose

    I may be that person who caused the trouble. In other areas of my life this has shown up. I want to change.

  10. Rhonda

    I recieved this email on the most horrible day because of some controlling women at work yelling and banging on my desk at me and shaking thier fingers in my face all because I was team leader of a so called “fun” filled dragon boat race. I was following orders from higher ups that threw them into a tizzy because they weren’t getting thier way. This email couldn’t have come at a better/ or more ironic time.
    My soloution…I stepped down as team leader because my ulcer was acting up and I couldn’t do my job anymore. I have my happiness back and I am productive again. : )
    That was the one thing that I could control. Thank you.


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