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  • Writer's pictureGillian Brunton

So, it's not perfect - so what!

Updated: Jul 4, 2023

Perfectionism is not just the need to have a picture hanging straight on a wall or having matching coloured towels in a bathroom. It’s a personality trait characterised by a high degree of self-imposed standards and a tendency to judge ourself harshly for perceived failures or shortcomings.

Perfectionists often have a strong desire to achieve flawlessness in their work, appearance, relationships, and other areas of their lives but they set unrealistic goals for themselves and feel anxious or frustrated when they are unable to meet those standards – that is perfectionism.

Perfectionism and You

Being a perfectionist can feel both rewarding and frustrating at the same time. On the one hand, striving for excellence and achieving high standards can bring a sense of accomplishment and satisfaction. However, on the other hand, the constant pressure to be perfect can be stressful and exhausting.

Emotionally perfectionists may experience:

1. Anxiety: Perfectionists often feel anxious about making mistakes or falling short of their goals. This anxiety can be heightened by the fear of judgment or criticism from others.

2. Frustration: Perfectionists may become frustrated when they are unable to meet their own high standards, or when others fail to meet their expectations.

3. Self-doubt: Perfectionists may experience self-doubt and negative self-talk, questioning their own abilities and worthiness.

4. Guilt: Perfectionists may feel guilty when they take a break or make a mistake, seeing these as signs of weakness or failure.

5. Pride: Perfectionists may feel a sense of pride and accomplishment when they are able to achieve their goals or meet their high standards.

Overall, being a perfectionist can be a complex and challenging experience and it is one of the main contributors to imposter syndrome.

If you are experiencing imposter syndrome as a result of perfectionism, there are several strategies you can try to help overcome these feelings. These may include; seeking support from others, reframing negative self-talk, setting realistic goals, and focusing on your strengths and accomplishments.

It's important to remember that everyone experiences self-doubt from time to time, and that it's okay to ask for help when you need it.

Perfectionism and Work

Perfectionism can have both positive and negative effects on your work. On the one hand, it can motivate you to strive for excellence and produce high-quality work. However, on the other hand, it can also lead to a number of negative consequences that can ultimately undermine your performance and satisfaction. Here are a few ways that perfectionism can affect your work:

1. Procrastination: Perfectionists often put off starting a task because they fear they won't be able to complete it perfectly. This can lead to delays and missed deadlines.

2. Difficulty delegating: Perfectionists may feel that they are the only ones who can do a task correctly, and may have difficulty delegating tasks to others. This can lead to overwork and burnout.

3. Micromanaging: Perfectionists may be overly critical of others' work and feel the need to control every aspect of a project, which can lead to conflict and decreased morale. No one, but no one likes a micromanager!

4. Fear of failure: Perfectionists may avoid taking risks or trying new things because they fear failure. This can lead to missed opportunities for growth and development.

5. Burnout: Perfectionists may work excessively long hours and put too much pressure on themselves, leading to burnout and decreased productivity over time.

It's important to recognise when your perfectionism is getting in the way of your work, and to develop strategies to manage it in a healthy way. This may include setting realistic goals, practicing self-compassion, and seeking support from others.

Perfectionism and Colleagues

It may be that you are not a perfectionist but a colleague is. Dealing with a perfectionist colleague can be challenging, as their high standards and attention to detail can sometimes create tension or conflict. Thankfully, there are a few strategies you can use to work effectively with a perfectionist colleague:

1. Communicate openly and respectfully: It's important to be clear and direct in your communication with your colleague, while also being respectful of their perspective. Try to understand their motivations and concerns, and find ways to work together that meet both of your needs.

2. Focus on the big picture: When working on a project together, try to keep the overall goals and objectives in mind, rather than getting bogged down in minor details. This can help to reduce stress and increase productivity.

3. Set realistic expectations: If you are working with a perfectionist colleague, it's important to set realistic expectations for timelines, deliverables, and quality standards. This can help to prevent misunderstandings and reduce anxiety for both of you.

4. Provide positive feedback: Perfectionists often respond well to positive feedback and recognition for their hard work. Be sure to acknowledge their contributions and express appreciation for their efforts.

5. Encourage self-care: Perfectionism can be stressful and exhausting, so it's important to encourage your colleague to take breaks, prioritise self-care, and seek support when needed. This can help to reduce burnout and improve their overall well-being.

Remember that everyone has their own unique strengths and challenges, and that working with a perfectionist colleague can ultimately be a valuable learning experience for both of you. By approaching the situation with empathy, patience, and open communication, you can build a more positive and productive working relationship.

25 April 2023

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