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Control Addict – My Life as a Recovering Micromanager


“Ab, stop micromanaging…” My husband Bernard cried out. I was badgering him with questions about when he would complete a project on our house. Unfortunately, this is not the first time Bernard has made this statement to me. Bernard isn’t the only person I have heard this statement from; friends and family have said this to me as well. I have noticed that because of my micromanaging ways, my life is way more stressful than it should be for a twenty-six-year-old. I also noticed, that my micromanaging ways cause conflict in my relationships.

I reflected on this flaw of mine and determined two main reasons why I micromanage. I then generated goals that will assist in curbing the behavior.

The number one reason I micromanage. I like being in control. I like the comfort of scratching a task off my to-do list well ahead of schedule. I like arranging all the details and making multiple back-plans just in case something was to go wrong. If you wanted to spin my controlling tendencies in a positive light, you could say I am motivated and prepared for anything. I determined that my tendency to control had to do with anxiety. I fear if I don’t complete a task right away, I will forget about it and miss a deadline. Or I am anxious that something could go wrong, and I won’t know what to do in the moment. Since I am a control addict – I find that living on the edge and spontaneity are rarely an option. I stress about the littlest thing going wrong, or I badger if I fear something will not be done on time. By being this way, I find myself in conflict with friends, family, and most frequently my husband.

The second reason I micromanage. I lack trust in others. I send the message to my loved ones when I swoop in with my plans and timetables that I don’t trust they can do the job. A lack of confidence in other’s abilities to carry out and complete tasks is what often causes me to break off more than I can chew. I also recognize that by taking on more because I lack trust, I have the potential to become resentful. A feeling I do not want to have with my family and friends. I am also concerned that if I continue to lack confidence in other’s I will never find myself promoted to a leadership role at work. To be a leader in the workforce one must learn to delegate, which will require a certain level of trust in others.

So how do you change and curb micromanaging tendencies?

  1. I will trust myself. I pride myself on being a good communicator. I give many details, I clarify, and I allow others to ask questions about things that may be confusing. I need to trust my abilities to communicate well. I can do this by not checking up on someone or nagging them about when and how they are doing a task. You are saying you don’t trust the instructions you gave that person.
  1. I will delegate. Part of being a good leader and minimizing the chance for conflict and resentment to build is learning to assign tasks, so you do not become overburdened. Letting other’s help with a job, will assist in relieving stress and reducing conflict.
  1. I will be creative and in the moment. While I don’t think I will ever be capable of throwing all backup plans and checklists to the wind. I do think a certain level of creativity when an issue arises couldn’t hurt me. I think in doing so, I could test my mind and come up with more inventive means of accomplishing a task.
  1. I will manage my anxiety. Since anxiety is a huge part of the fear of losing control, I will manage this through breathing, recognizing, and letting go.

I hope that my fellow MM’s may find some similarities between my micromanaging flaw and their own and utilize my strategies for themselves. Perhaps together we can tame our micromanaging ways!

Abigail R.C. McManus M.S Negotiation and Conflict Management


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