Signs of controlling behavior include verbal put-downs, negative comments and even threats. The controlling person's goal is to oppress the other person or to intimidate or coerce them. Physical actions such as grabbing the other person, breaking objects and disrespecting a person's right to say no to sexual advances are further examples of controlling behavior. A person who is trying to control someone psychologically may try to isolate the other person from family and friends or undermine his authority.
While physical acts are dramatic examples of controlling behavior, a controlling person's psychological strategies may be more subtle. He may require the other person to ask his permission before pursuing a goal, discount the other person's opinions or devalue things that the other person feels are important.
Even more subtle behaviors include ingratiating, whereby the controller acts excessively nicely to create a feeling of obligation or guilt in the other person. The goal is to avoid confrontation, as that results in the controller being exposed. Even more passive strategies include the silent treatment and expecting people to be mind readers and guess what the person wants. When a person refuses to speak to others, his goal is to get other people to cater to him just so things can go back to normal. Without saying outright what he wants, he can deny that he wanted it.
Talking excessively and asking a lot of questions are two ways that people try to control social situations. Talking constantly ensures the attention remains on the speaker, and controlling people sometimes ask questions that are designed to make the person answering look bad.