How To Control People

I have researched control on the internet. Type in “how to control people” and a vast array of articles will be available for you to educate yourself in this fine art.

Would you like to hear the top 10? Sure? Okay. Here goes:

  1. Do not let them know you are controlling them. Most people aren’t consciously willing to be manipulated. It is a subtle art controlling people without them knowing it.
  2. Keep them ignorant. Uneducated people are easier to control than educated ones. But we aren’t talking about higher education, but worldly education. Global understanding. There are PhD’s walking around who are experts in their field but woefully ignorant of the greater issues of life.
  3. Do not allow for original thought. Original thought undermines blind obedience. Tell people everything they need to know and that anything beyond that is taboo.
  4. Keep them entertained. Distraction is the best way of keeping people under sedation. Like the Roman stadiums kept the people docile, so too will mindless entertainment and distractions.
  5. Use an authoritative tone when speaking. Appearance is as good as the substance these days. Sound like an authority and people will believe you know what you are talking about.
  6. Have the appearance of power and the success that it brings. Smoke and mirrors are known deceivers because they work. Dress for success! Fake it ’til you make it. People respect suits.
  7. Take control of every situation possible. Your control cannot be provincial. It must be global. Dominate every domain and notice how people respect you. Every area of their lives, from their sex lives down to the last penny, must be under your jurisdiction.
  8. Dangle the carrot in front of them. Always keep the shiny object dangling just beyond their reach. Their goal. Their destiny. Their fulfilment. Their vision. Tantalize them. They will keep coming back for more.
  9. Instil guilt and fear of the consequences of not being controlled. Fear is the greatest motivator for aligning other people’s priorities to yours. And everyone knows guilt is the fastest way to get someone back in line.
  10. Manipulate their emotions. Get into their minds to see what makes them tick and take advantage of it. Build a false sense of security. Pretend to be a close friend and confidante. Identify and sympathize with their emotions and make a heart connection. This will form a bond that’s hard to break.

Interestingly, once a person has come to rely upon you for their knowledge, emotions, and advice for life, and once they need you to warm them, correct them, assure them and comfort them, then you have an addict for life. Once all the 10 above have been achieved, you have your addict.

I find it interesting too that many of these articles add at the end that they listed these so that you, the reader, will know when it is being done to you and that they are not to be used against people.

But then there are some articles that just flat out recommend these practices if you want to have power.

Is any of this familiar to you?

My cartoon book is all about this stuff. You can order it “nakedpastor101“:


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24 Responses

  1. Pat Pope says:

    Oh yes, in some church circles and especially among some of the self=help gurus do you have the dress for success formula. I’m all for dressing for success as long as it’s not a tool for controlling people or to have them idolize you or idolize what they think success will look like for them. Rather than looking to attain salvation, peace, a better living, the goal becomes the expensive suit and flashy watch, which actually falls short of the real goal. So, we end up producing people that “look” the part, but that’s about it.

  2. Pat Pope says:

    It’s the perfect pyramid scheme.

  3. Seriously…this sounds EXACTLY like the boss’s son from the last job I held.

  4. Yeah, and now he’s trying to sue me. Major jerk.

  5. I never trust a man in a suit and tie. Suits alone make me suspicious. I mean, with shirt sudner them. Suits without shirts is kinda cool.

  6. Laura says:

    Brilliant! Thank you!

  7. nakedpastor says:

    you’re welcome laura

  8. nakedpastor says:

    suit without a shirt. hm.

  9. “suit without a shirt. hm.”
    perhaps better than a sport coat without pants…

  10. Deven Kale says:

    This sounds like many people in my life, one of which was actually successful at controlling me for a while. Sadly, I don’t even know for sure if they knew they were doing it. Now the scariest part is that they’re starting to work in on my children.

  11. melissa says:

    this sounds like a boss I had who was a director of a Christian camp. He was all of these things, and the kids just thought he walked on water. He had his opinion puked into everyone’s well being and if you went against what he thought was best, step aside and get ready for some wrath. I am gone from that job now, but I certainly am not fully recovered. I worked there for two years, and here I am two years out, and I still have flashbacks of how it used to be.

  12. stephanie butcher says:

    Holy Sh*t – There’s 15 years of my life I will never get back. Thankfully, no more than that…

  13. Steve Martin says:

    The 1st thing I thought of was ‘Communism’.


    In my church, only #5 is followed. I think that is a good thing because our preacher is just an underline and parrot of the Word.

  14. Andrew says:

    Hi David, really enjoying your posts. I’m another person slowly returning to life leaving the religious scene.

    Having been subject to the attempts of control by an authoritarian narcissist I found two books reeeaally helpful. “In Sheep’s Clothing: Understanding and Dealing with Manipulative People” and “Emotional Blackmail: When the People in Your Life Use Fear, Obligation, and Guilt to Manipulate You”. The first is very good for understanding the specific techniques used (like guilt invitations etc) and the second is really good for understanding the “game” and various techniques for responding.

    Just thought I’d mention them as they were a life saver for me in a somewhat difficult & intense environment.


  15. sarahmorgan says:

    Very familiar…I had the misfortune of working in an evangelical parachurch ministry whose boss was like that. He wasn’t a suit-wearing guy, but knew how to dress and talk to make everyone think he was a pro, a celebrity, a better-than-you “important person”. Faked out everyone in the church I was in, to the point of the leaders believing his (later proved fake) out-of-this-world credentials and hiring him right away as an assistant pastor (he never did any work, and appropriated church resources to promote himself at the expense of the church — when people brought those nagging facts up, he would persuade people to cut him slack and “forgive him”, making them feel guilty if they didn’t). He was a narcissist and an expert manipulator of people; he needed to always be the one on top and in control, and he worked hard at it. His behavior left a lot of naive, sheltered church members hurt and confused; they idolized him, and he used them; he had zero empathy for anyone (unless he could use the circumstance to somehow promote himself). If he didn’t get his way, or someone made him feel less than the greatest person in the room, he exhibited some of the worst unChristian behavior by a so-called Christian I’ve witnessed. The fact that the local evangelical church community seems so completely and thoroughly incompetent when it comes to identifying, confronting and handling these types of people is one of the reasons I left it.

  16. sam scoville says:

    How to Shock People? Which is not the same agenda as How to Control People. O Contrary.

    Any one can understand the motive behind control: controlling the situation,
    controlling the environment,
    the classroom, the
    one’s ruly

    Controlling one’s tendency to control.

    The word is problematic (contra rotuli:
    against the roll, rule, rood)

    How To Shock People:
    what possibly could motivate that desire?
    And who would your rather hang with: a controller or a shocker? A false dichotomy,
    I’m sure.

    We all want to be nice. Fit in. Neither shocking nor controlling. Just Get Along and why can’t we? That is the question.

    “We’re all crazy egos hungry for love” says Sherwood Anderson. Should come as a shock
    to no body.

  17. Johnfom says:

    This is all very familiar. But then I am a fan of dystopian fiction. I learned all of the elements mentioned above from literary classics. Books such as:

    Brave new world
    Animal Farm
    Fahrenheit 451
    Stop Harlequin! said the Ticktock Man …

    More recently: V for Vendetta, The Matrix, Dark City, Inception?

    Most of the dystopian stories are characterised by governments or religions using some or all of these 10.

    Just as a side note, I read a book on brainwashing and mind control techniques about 10 years ago. There was a whole chapter dedicated to propaganda. The most commonly sighted use of propaganda in the real world (according to the book)? The sermon.

  18. nakedpastor says:

    i read a lot of that stuff. and those movies.

  19. Mark says:

    Very interesting article Dave.

    As a therapist specializing in couples, I hear people accuse each other all of the time of being controlling. My view (borrowed from William Glasser) is that controlling is just a label that we apply to people and like most labels it is not usually accurate or helpful. Ever notice that when we label a person (or a team, a church, etc) it rarely makes anything better? I have never seen this vague labeling result in durable change.

    What is often helpful is dealing with control issues by defining them as engaging in controlling behaviors. A controlling behavior is any attempt to influence someone that does not accept the free will of that person to say no (or to choose their own path). Thus nagging is a control behavior (“I will make you do what I want through my incessant reminders”). Control behaviors include the overt ones (demanding, threatening, forcing, pressuring, blaming, angry outbursting, etc) and covert ones (manipulating, guilting, nagging, silent treatmenting etc).

    Control behaviors are evil because they don’t respect the freewill of others and because they bring out our rebellious nature. We will always get defensive when someone uses a control behavior to control us because we never feel loved when someone tries to take away our free will to make our own decisions. Love and control cannot co-exist. This is why a mother who uses guilting and manipulation distances her children – they don’t feel loved. Even if her motive is love, the behavior she uses to express it is evil. God doesn’t use controlling behaviors on us, he respects our right to choose (though there are consequences to those choices of course).

    Personally I think that pastoral leaders are ethically free to use all kind of means to influence their flock as long as they don’t sin and they love their flock by not using any controlling behaviors. So I agree that manipulation is controlling, but some other things on your list might be too vague and subjective (keeping them entertained for example) to be practically helpful. Anyway, those are just my two cents, feel free to disagree!

  20. Yisraela says:

    HEY! I know that church! Oh… you weren’t talking about churches 😛

  21. Guilt is the toughest one for me. I was in a smaller creative-minded community of people that was rather tight. We shared our art, stories, and dreams with one another. Above all, in the beginning, we respected each other and and gave space to each individual voice and author. It was a wonder for me to see the potential in that group and it was a real boost to my own effort with writing. Today, I wonder how it went wrong.

    I started getting forced out of the community by one person. I thought he was a friend, so I did what friends do and I asked him about it directly. He never gave me a direct answer about what I did. He always spoke in generalities. He would randomly use his influence in the community to force me out or let me in. Sometimes it was the result of me groveling for it, other times it was done on a whim. This struggle went on for years before I finally woke up and realized that I was being used, that I was only “in” when he had complete access to my writing and art.

    Of course, did his grievance matter? No. I still feel guilty, even now, for how I disrupted the community and caused a mess. I haven’t seen some of those people (who are good friends of mine) in months, even years. And, as time goes by, the connections grow even colder.