The Daily Prosper
Perfectionistic character? The pros and cons of always seeking perfection

Perfectionistic character? The pros and cons of always seeking perfection

A well-understood perfectionism helps one to progress, achieve proposed goals and reach success. But never being satisfied can also cause problems on a personal and professional level if taken to the extreme. The key is to find the balance.

There is a question that cannot be missing in any job interview: "What do you think is your main defect?" And the smart candidate, as if it were a reflex, usually replies: "I am very perfectionistic". This is a prepared response that aims to turn the tables and convert a supposed defect into a virtue. Because, of course, it is assumed that for any company it is positive to have perfectionistic employees who stay to the end of the day to ensure that a report is immaculate or to correct their colleagues secretly.

Well maybe that answer in job interviews has to begin to be changed, because being 'very perfectionistic' is not as good as it may seem, quite the contrary. If it is taken to an extreme, it can be a burden for companies, since these kinds of people do not usually work as a team, they generate bad vibes and delay delivery times. Personal situations can also be awkward, since the obsessive perfectionist often thinks that others are never on their level in friendship or love.

However, perfectionism mixed with certain doses of serenity, self-acceptance and tolerance is very beneficial for the person and for others. It is then when it becomes virtue. It is a necessary trait in progressing day by day, in achieving the goals that you set throughout life and for self-realization. It is about not conforming, thinking that you can always improve, that you do not have to be satisfied, that the best idea has yet to come, wanting to pursue ambitious dreams ...

The world belongs to perfectionists

In all success stories there always tend to be attributes of a perfectionist, either to invent something that will revolutionise the world or to be number one at a sport. But a balance must always be maintained, and it is necessary to know when to say stop for that virtue not to end up as a defect. So the first thing that should be done is to examine oneself to detect one's degree of perfectionism, and to know that all behaviour has its positive and negative side:

Avoiding blind acceptance. This is what allows perfectionists to go one step further, to go from a pass to excellent. To be aware that everything can always be improved and that you can still take it one step further. But if you do not know how to set limits on this constant search for perfection, a damaging effect might result: a constant sense of dissatisfaction at never seeing when a job is finished or a goal achieved.

Not accepting mistakes (yours and others’). The perfectionist is not allowed to fail, and this makes him or her very attentive to everything. They review things over and over again to detect even the smallest fault and they point them out when they see them in others. This is an important attribute in achieving excellence, but also generates a lot of pain when they realise that they have made a mistake that cannot be fixed. To avoid it happening again, they double their efforts and the time they devote to things, and fall into a vicious circle.

Doing things their own way. Before embarking on a trip, they study the guide thoroughly, make a route, calculate the distances, make a list of places to visit and choose restaurants where to eat. They have everything carefully calculated, so this makes them a good leader, someone others can trust. However, it is hard for them to accept that someone might propose changes to the plans or want to improvise.

Being uncompromising with the rules. For a perfectionist, the rules are there to be obeyed, and this gives them a high degree of honesty and transparency. Sometimes, however, it is hard to consider whether these imposed rules are positive or negative. When it is they who make them, they can sometimes be uncompromising, without understanding that sometimes a certain tolerance and empathy is necessary.

Putting great attention on the details. Excellence is usually seen in the small things. A mediocre sculptor can give shape to a discus thrower, but only the genius shapes every muscle of the body. Perfectionists know this, so they spend a lot of time dealing with all the details. The problem comes when so much demand prevents them from enjoying things, because they will always find flaws in everything. They do not understand that life is also imperfection.

Advantages and disadvantages of perfectionism

Experts like Borja Vilaseca, the author of the books ‘Pleased to meet me’ or ‘What would you do if you were not afraid?’ claim that the constant search for perfection may end up generating dissatisfaction, since extreme perfectionists feel a permanent sensation of inadequacy and dissatisfaction, and erasing this becomes the reason behind their actions. On a deeper and unconscious level, specialists says that people with this character feel that they are imperfect and make great demands of themselves to improve. An inner voice judges them and demands ever more of them.

When perfectionism becomes an obsession (and therefore, a defect), the person builds toxic habits. They do not know how to delegate because they do not trust anyone and prefer not to work as a team; they need to pretend to others that they are perfect; they cannot stand being criticised; they always wants to impose their way of seeing things ... It is very likely that, in the end, everything is a matter of insecurity.

However, it has already been seen that a certain degree of perfectionism can be very useful to achieve objectives such as productivity, efficiency and excellence. But it always has to be combined with other attributes such as tolerance, acceptance and serenity. The key is finding the balance.

Tips to be a "healthy" perfectionist

A dose of realism. To climb Everest, before you have to climb much lower mountains. It is important to always know your true chances and to consider the external factors: time, resources, objectives, expectations ...

Set limits. If you have a tendency to never accept anything as finished, it may be a good idea to set a deadline and respect it, or commit yourself to reviewing things once or twice at most.

Give others a chance. You can train this aspect in everyday life to understand that others also have good ideas. Let someone else choose the restaurant, the film at the cinema or the plan for the holidays. At work too, it is important to accept different approaches.

Communicate positively. The experts point out that we all maintain a constant dialogue with ourselves and that it is very important to take care of the words we use. Perfectionists usually say "this is not right" instead of "you have worked hard on this". Giving yourself credit is key to counteracting dissatisfaction.

Give way to error. There is no need to panic about making mistakes, because these allow us to move forward and improve. For perfectionists, it can be a good learning process to allow yourself to fail, especially in things you do not master. By doing so, you will find that making a mistake from time to time is not so serious.