Nobody’s perfect – that’s what everybody says. It’s a way to soften the blow of being told that you are not and never will be perfect. Who the heck likes to hear that?

Alas, it’s true: You aren’t perfect, and you never will be. Don’t take it personally: No one can be perfect. Perfection is impossible, and what’s more, perfection is subjective. Perfection is in the eye of the beholder. 

Of course, this fact doesn’t stop us or the people around us from focusing on attaining this unattainable entity. People who live trying to make every aspect of their life perfect are known as – yep, you guessed it – perfectionists. 

Being a perfectionist isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but neither is it a good thing. Especially in workplace settings, perfectionism can cause challenges – both for those who are perfectionists as well as those who work closely with perfectionists.

Perfectionists often feel unsatisfied, criticized, and like a failure. They struggle to complete most tasks because they never feel like their end product is good enough. They can be workaholics who hold everyone else to the same working standard of perfection. 

Both being a perfectionist and working with one can cause unwanted and unnecessary tension. Check out our Perfectionist Survival Guide series for tips and tricks for how to both work with a perfectionist (Part 1), as well as work as a perfectionist (Part 2). 

Call out Unrealistic Expectations

As mentioned, perfectionists have a tendency to overwork themselves unnecessarily, and they have the same expectations for everyone else. Some team members can be tough with the quantity or quality of the work they expect from you, but perfectionists can go way over the top. 

When you recognize unrealistic expectations being set on you or your team, don’t be afraid to speak up. You shouldn’t waste your time and energy on something that isn’t worthy. When you voice your concerns with the expectations, be sure to mention other logical ways that your time and energy can be better used to serve the team’s overall purpose.

Focus on the Big Picture

Perfectionists are known to be very detail-oriented. Little nit picky details are ones that they seem to get the most hung up on. In the grand scheme of things, minor details likely don’t hold much importance, but a perfectionist often struggles to see the forest for the trees.

When you witness this happening, find ways to draw the attention back to the overall purpose of the work being done. Harvard Business Review advises asking questions like, “Is there a simpler way we can achieve our goal?”, “Can we shrink down the amount of time we’re spending?”, and “What’s the opportunity cost of spending extra time on this versus another task?”

Understand the Positives

Working alongside a perfectionist can be very difficult at times, indeed. In many situations, everyone around the perfectionist can feel frustrated, controlled, and worn out. However, take a moment to recognize some of the positive aspects of having a perfectionist on your team. 

By focusing on the pros, you’ll learn to have some patience for those perfectionist colleagues of yours – you’ll understand them better and have insight into what jobs will fit them best. Some of these positive qualities include: focus, commitment, drive, reliability, and persistence, among many others. Find ways to capitalize on their valuable traits. 

Assign the Right Job

Not every job within a team setting will be the right fit for you, and the same goes for a perfectionist. Following up on the previous tip to use your colleague’s perfectionism to your advantage, make sure you assign them a position that they will pair well with. 

For example, perfectionists aren’t great in managing roles, as they like to keep control and struggle to delegate. According to Harvard Business Review, “They are also unlikely to thrive in charge of a big complicated business. Instead, find jobs where their fastidiousness will be appreciated.” A more fitting role would be one that requires a lot of attention to detail and has a smaller bandwidth. 

Everyone handles assignments, projects, and other work responsibilities differently. In a diverse team setting, understanding each person individually is important so that their skills as a person and a worker can be maximized. For more information about relationship management, check out the products Knowted offers.

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