Control: A Universal Strategy
Imagine someone asks you if you have a need for control. Does your heart soften?
I am guessing the answer is no. That's a good sign that control is not a universal need. When you guess another's need your heart softens because you have the same needs. When you feel resentment or resistance come up you are likely thinking about how someone is behaving rather than about what he or she is needing.
Control often gets called a need because it is a common way people try to meet needs. It is a useful strategy when applied to things like controlling a heat source to meet your need for warmth, controlling what you eat to meet your need for health, etc. Control starts to cost more needs than it meets when it is applied to other people's behavior.
When you witness someone behaving in a way that you might label convincing, cajoling, guilt-tripping, threatening, analyzing, or criticizing, you are tempted to guess they have a "need" for control. You can separate this out in a more clear way by naming that what this person is doing isn't meet your needs for honor and collaboration, for example. If you want to offer empathy to this person, then some empathy guesses might sound like this:
Feeling nervous because of a need for competence
Feeling defensive because of a need for self-acceptance
Feeling anxious because of a need for support
Feeling shy because of a need for belonging
Feeling worried because of a need for predictability
Feeling apprehensive because of a need for safety
Whether you make these guesses out loud to the other person or in your heart depends on the sense of rapport and trust you have established. Sometimes the simplest way to start with offering empathy is just to begin silently in your own heart.
Take a moment now to bring into your awareness a time when you bristled and had the thought that someone was trying to control you. Name the feelings and needs that weren't being met for you with that person's behavior. If you have the space make some empathy guesses just in your own heart.