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The Control-Freak Quiz

Are You a Control Freak?

Karl Albrecht

Psychologists tell us about the "strength-weakness paradox," which means that any trait that's one of your best strengths can turn into a liability or a weakness if over deployed.

Being diligent and persistent, for example, can be great but can turn into bull-headedness when taken to extremes. Open-mindedness and willingness to consider all points of view can be great, and it can also make you wishy-washy if you overdo it.

Being well-organized and getting things done can be great, but overdo it and you start acting like a "control freak." If you're a super-organized, decisive, action person, is it possible you've taken it too far? Could you be a control freak?

Control freaks, according to psychologists, come in two basic flavors, with many of them showing signs of both. One type has a pervading, unconscious fear of loss of control - they get anxious and reactive in situations that are confused or unpredictable. They have a low tolerance for ambiguity.

The other type is motivated by unconscious power needs - they've become almost addicted to the feelings of proving themselves, being in charge, and getting their way.

In other words, some control freaks are driven to control their environments, some are driven to control the people around them, and some crave both.

This little quiz, although not scientifically perfect and probably not psychologically complete, can give you a quick perspective on your own control-seeking tendencies.

Be as honest as you can. As you answer each question, imagine that someone who knows you well is looking over your shoulder - what would they say? Would they agree with your self-perception?

The Control Freak Quiz

For each question, choose a number on a five-point scale, to show how accurately you think the statement describes you. Use 1 = Rarely or Never; 2 = Seldom; 3 = Sometimes; 4 = Often; and 5 = Very Often. Then add up all ten scores and consult the interpretation scale at the end. (Note: the even-numbered questions indicate personal control and the odd-numbered ones indicate control over others.)

  1. Do you "help" other people drive - tell them what route to take, when to turn, where to park, remind them that the traffic light has changed?
  2. Do you devote a lot of attention and energy to keeping your personal environment organized?
  3. Do you give people a lot of "shoulds" and "oughts" - unsolicited advice, suggestions, and "constructive criticism?"
  4. Do you have lots of personal rules, routines, rituals, and ceremonies?

  5. Are you the one who takes over and orders other people around when the situation seems confused?
  6. Do you dislike depending on others, accepting help from them, or allowing them to do things for you?
  7. Do you insist on "being right," having things done your way, or having the final word?
  8. Do you "over-plan" simple activities?
  9. Do you find it difficult to admit making mistakes, being wrong or misinformed about something, or acknowledging that you've changed your mind?
  10. Do you become angry, irritable, or anxious when someone or something makes you late, when things don't start on time, or things don't go according to plan?

Interpret Your Score:

41 - 50: yep, you're a control freak.

31 - 40: you probably have some control issues.

21 - 30: you can live and let live.

10 - 20: are you being honest?


About the Author:

Dr. Karl Albrecht is an executive management consultant, futurist, lecturer, and author of more than 20 books on professional achievement, organizational performance, and business strategy.

He has pioneered a number of important new concepts in the business world. For example, he is widely regarded as the father of the American "customer revolution" and service management. His book Service America: Doing Business in the New Economy (co-authored with the late Ron Zemke), sold over 500,000 copies and has been translated into seven languages.

He is also a leading authority on cognitive styles and the development of advanced problem solving skills. His recent books Social Intelligence: the New Science of Success, and Practical Intelligence: the Art and Science of Common Sense, together with his Social Intelligence Profile and his Mindex Thinking Style Profile are widely used in business and education. The Mensa society honored him with its lifetime achievement award, for significant contributions by a member to the understanding of intelligence.

Originally a physicist, and having served as a military intelligence officer and business executive, he now consults, lectures, and writes about whatever he thinks would be fun.