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Work Control: Five Ways It Harms You and How to Avoid It


The workplace is where humanity’s primal drive for sustenance and survival is most prominently played out.   As such, it is a hotbed for costly control practices.  Some graciously refer to the compulsion to control at work as just “trying to get ahead” or “make ends meet,” but in truth it can be argued that it is nothing less than survival of the fittest.

The compulsion to control at work can be so strong, that we rarely stop to consider how much it harms us–and  others.

Pitfalls of Work Control.   Here are five ways that excessive work control harms you:

  • We are rigid and close-minded, and thereby fail to recognize profitable options and opportunities.  We literally have “blinders” because of the intensity of controlling behavior.
  • We are inflexible and thus unable to adapt to the ebb and flow of the
    “work currents,” putting us our of sync with what needs to be timely addressed.
  • By trying to micro-manage everything, we fail to look at the “larger picture.” We are thus unable to discern what is truly relevant with respect to the tasks and issues at hand, resulting in costly diversions of time and money.
  • Our interactions with others become abrasive and confrontational instead of cooperative and thoughtful.
  • We easily become stressed out and overwhelmed because we are constantly fearful of (and obsess about) all the “what ifs” and “what could happens”.

How to Let Go of Work Control. Losing Control, Finding Serenity devotes several chapters on how to let go of control at work and avoid the above pitfalls. Here are  several  “decontrol” tools that will enable you to give up more control at work:

Address your work fears.   Fear is the primary catalyst for controlling behavior.  You must address and process these fears in order to let go of work control.  One effective way is to separate the objective facts of troubling work issues from the fictional nightmares you script for yourself.    Identify the real facts as specifically as you can.  Write them down and really focus on them.

Take some action to deal with these objective facts—even a small step.   Trust me, your fears will not like being confronted this way and they will soon start to lose their hold over you.   You will then recognize viable options and choices that had been obscured to you previously.   That will further defuse your work fears, and with that the compulsion to control.

*Trust that you will be okay, regardless of what happens.    Remind yourself that you’ve overcome many difficult challenges in the past.   You’re still here, right?  You will also be here tomorrow and the next day.

*Read my poem, Fear: Fictions’ Best Seller,” which exposes fear for what it truly is: “a wimp” parading in our frail armor!

Try these decontrol tools at work and let me know how it goes for you.

And remember to,

Let It Go!


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  • Galen Pearl
    Posted July 11, 2011 at 1:07 pm

    Although I am now retired, I can think back to many illustrations of your points here. And even now, I can apply your advice to my current activities, especially your advice about micro-managing. Thanks!

    • Post Author
      Daniel A. Miller
      Posted July 11, 2011 at 3:59 pm

      Galen, you bring up a very good point. These decontrol tools can be effectively applied across the board to our personal, social and even recreational activities.

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