Control Issues, Tuning Out

"Tuning out" is what those with control issues do on a daily basis.

It is nearly impossible to have a direct conversation about anything relational with a person who has control issues. Some people have control issues because they are overwhelmed, defensive, and feel like they are being controlled by others. Some have control issues because they developed it as a coping skill during childhood. Some have OCD or some form of autism that causes them to need to have things a certain way or they feel very anxious. Still others simply feel compelled or entitled to be in control, and will do anything to maintain that position, regardless of the effect it has on others.

To have a direct, real, reciprocal conversation with them about a real subject, where you speak and they actually can hear what you say, and then they respond to what you actually said in a conversational tone, can be nearly impossible. When the subject has to do with their actions or the relationship between you, they will usually try to change the subject, sidestep the topic, leave or hang up, or derail the entire conversation by becoming argumentative or hostile.

Their thoughts are running while you are speaking. They do not hear your words, they don't listen to your words, they don't try to understand the concept that you are communicating. They don't CARE what you have to say; their only concern is that you pay attention to what THEY say, or do what they want you to do.

For a controller, hearing and truly taking in another point of view that is different from their own is tantamount to listening to nails on a chalkboard. If you are not saying something that makes them feel good, even if it's just neutral, they will tune it out. This is why they cannot hear you when you speak. Why they cannot have a discussion about anything they don't initiate, already agree with, or makes them feel comfortable.

When a person who has control issues replies to you, it is often completely off topic, or an entirely NEW topic. They will speak as if you had not spoken at all. They will even do things like repeat what you said, as if they had thought of it, with no acknowledgment that you were actually the one who said it. (They heard the words and simply assimilated them into their own thought stream, without listening TO YOU.) They may ask you a question and just ignore you when you answer, and talk right over you. They may change the subject so frequently and quickly, and bounce from one topic to another so fast that that there is no way to even reply. They are talking to talk, not to converse. They want you to hear THEIR words, THEIR thoughts, THEIR feelings, THEIR ideas,  but they really have no interest in hearing yours.

Your thoughts, feelings, needs and wants are insignificant to a controller, nearly non-existent. Their world is as if they are the only real person in it, even if they think they love or care for you. They won't read what you write, and they won't hear what you say, and they won't respond directly to anything from you. They can't, they didn't hear what you said.
The only exception to this is when they want to tell you that you are wrong, which can be very frustrating or heartbreaking, since it's the only time they seem to hear you.

Ironically, the person who has control issues can feel very, very frustrated, lonely, or rejected because they don't feel HEARD, or they feel like all you do is disagree with them or dismiss them  (unless they are a Malignant Narcissistic Sociopath who is doing all the control behaviors on purpose.)  They are often unaware that they are so adamant in being heard that they have stopped listening to others altogether. You could ask them 50 questions and they may not answer a single one; they will just keep saying the same thing as before, as if you had not asked a single one.  You could write them a letter outlining point by point the things that are on your mind and in your heart, and they may not acknowledge a single one of them; you may as well have not even written it.

The one thing that can help in dealing with a person who has control issues, (if they are NOT a Narcissist or Sociopath), is knowing that they most likely really can't help it at the moment. They are doing it to protect themselves in some way that they themselves probably don't understand. Or, they learned it in childhood and don't realize that their communication habits are robbing them of rich and wonderful experiences. Most people with control issues do not seek help, and become extremely defensive if someone requests for them to do anything to change their control habits. They may not ever learn better communication or interaction skills, but those around them can learn how to detach and see it more objectively. When a person with control issues ignores what I say, I know it's not my fault;  "shortcomings" of mine did not cause them to do so. I can let go of the feeling that I did something wrong, or that I am not "enough" of a person.