Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Dealing With The Control Freak



A while back I wrote an article for PI Magazine entitled “Dealing with the Paranoid Schizophrenic Client”. I would like to continue along those lines and add some input in dealing with the “Control Freak”.

A control freak can be defined as “someone who wants to control every aspect of a situation and will not allow other people to share in making decisions.  “Controlling people can be hard to live with—with their constant advice, rigid routines, and schedules, times; their backseat driving and their demands that the dishwasher needs to be loaded in a certain way, and the tools in the garage put back on the proper hooks. They obsess and map out every minute of Thanksgiving or Christmas weeks in advance, and they get irritable or angry when plans get disrupted or you fail to follow through on what you said you were going to do.”

You know you are a control freak if:

1. “You believe that if someone would change one or two things about themselves, you'd be happier. So you try to "help them" change this behavior by pointing it out, usually over and over.

2. You micromanage others to make them fit your (often unrealistic) expectations. You don't believe in imperfection and you don't think anyone else should either.

3. You judge others' behavior as right or wrong and passive-aggressively withhold attention until they fall in line with your expectations. Sitting in silent judgment is a master form of control.

4. You offer "constructive criticism" as a veiled attempt to advance your own agenda.

5. You change who you are or what you believe so that someone will accept you. Instead of just being yourself, you attempt to incept others by managing their impression of you.

6. You present worst-case scenarios in an attempt to influence someone away from certain behaviors and toward others. This is also called fear mongering.

7. You have a hard time with ambiguity and being OK with not knowing something.

8. You intervene on behalf of people by trying to explain or dismiss their behaviors to others.”

In domestic matters the above has led to increased sales of Cell Phone Spyware and GPS(s) being sold as well as a PI being asked to assist the individual in their controlling endeavors.  Either party in those situations may be the one to ask for your assistance; the controller or the controlee. At what point does it become an ethical question for the investigator.

In my personal situation I have even received a card from an individual on whose car I had placed a GPS to determine if he was having an affair. Unbeknown to his wife the subject had placed spyware on her cell phone so after wasting my client, his wife’s money he sent me a “Got You Card” letting me know he was aware of everything. Even though Cell Phone Spyware is illegal the internet is flooded with software companies willing to take the chance and sell the software to anyone willing to pay the price. One should look at 18 U.S. Code § 2511 - Interception and disclosure of wire, oral, or electronic communications prohibited prior to engaging in such endeavors.

In domestic matters If they have tried counselling and all else fails you must be ready to tell your client if they are the controlee to be prepared to walk away – let their significant control other people.  At least you did your part. But again this is an ethical situation as to due I assist my client or keep my mouth shut?

In another personal matter after providing surveillance for the controlee before coming to the conclusion that he was one I got the call from the controlee who said no sense in wasting her husband’s money she would just call me in advance to let me know where she was going. The money was great but at what point does the PI become a stalker.

Every day a PI engaged in domestic surveillance comes across the “Control Freak” and you have to ask yourself do I take the money and run or do I say no. Each case if different because you may not have the knowledge that your client is a control freak until later in your investigation. It is an ethical dilemma that PIs face every day.  Do I do the right thing or make money?




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