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Updated on August 12, 2020

Try NOT to be TOO MUCH of a perfectionist at work

Perfectionism is when there is excessively high standards expected from yourself and others around you.  Although having high expectations is a positive trait, there are some unhealthy negative connotations associated with being a perfectionist.  These include preoccupation with past mistakes, fears about making new mistakes, self doubts and being over concerned about the expectations by your colleagues or employer.

What are signs of a perfectionist?

  • Getting defensive over feedback from your colleagues
  • Overly critical of other co-workers
  • Tendency to procrastinate by spending too much time trying to be perfect
  • Guilt of not having done enough or done better
  • Self doubt
  • Seeking approval from your employer
  • Constant fear of rejection
  • Wanting to be the best all the time (being 2nd is not enough)
  • Take mistakes personally

Click to view GoodTherapy video on Are you a Perfectionist

Is Perfectionism any Good?

Perfectionists can be described as people who try very hard to avoid making mistakes and pride themselves for their flawlessness.  They expect a lot from themselves, sometimes beyond what they are capable of delivering.  As such, they may be be affected by guilt for not doing enough or not being not good enough.  These are correlated with

  • Eating disorders
  • Anxiety
  • Burn out
  • Stress
  • Workaholism
  • Low self esteem
  • Depression

When things are going smoothly, perfectionists are able to apply their high standards to produce good work.  They are usually more motivated, ambitious and conscientious.  However, when things do not go as smoothly as they expect, they may be hard towards themselves as well as their colleagues or team members.  

Perfectionists may feel excluded by colleagues or team members

Perfectionists are often described as very capable but difficult to get along with at work.  Non-perfectionists on the other hand, have great social skills and rated as ideal co-workers.  It is not surprising that perfectionists may feel excluded by their colleagues or team members at work. 

Perfectionism comes in several forms

  • Personal oriented perfectionists set high but realistic standards for themselves that can motivate them.  This trait is healthy and can make them feel energised
  • Self-critical perfectionists on the other hand, set unrealistic targets for themselves which can be overbearing and make them feel hopeless 
  • Socially prescribed perfectionists try to reach the standards expected of them by society

Surprisingly, being perfect does NOT result in better job performance.  This may be because perfectionists may encounter difficulty getting cooperation or help from co-workers.  Research has shown that by putting so much effort at one task, perfectionists may neglect or upset co-workers and miss out in the team dynamics which is often crucial to getting a job done well.  In fact, perfectionism can actually negatively affect the workplace environment making it harder for team members to get the job done.

Perfectionists should invest a little less in their work

and a little more in being a better team player.

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