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Are You A Perfectionist?

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It is good to take pride in your skill as a workman or professional. You are someone who cannot bear a single ambiguity in a report you are responsible for putting together or stand the sight of a poorly constructed home improvement project or live with the thought of a mangled and ungrammatical sentence in a document published under your name. Missed deadlines, unreturned greetings, non-reciprocation of gifts, rudeness or social improprieties of any sort are against your nature. You strive hard to be not only a good person, but a perfect person—the best son, friend, boyfriend, and professional.

In some ways, you feel out of place in our rather care-free age. But you cannot help the natural sentiments that shape your behavior and way of moving in the world. However, it is possible to take your perfectionism too far. Although it is right that you remain true to yourself, you will need to make some compromises with the world—both for the sake of remaining sociable and of retaining your sanity.

Since human perfectionism is impossible by any standard—and the concept itself invalid—you should not expect perfect results from each task and project you undertake. Use the fact that you refuse to be slovenly and apathetic in your general relations with the world, and that you insist on meeting the highest standard in everything you do, to push yourself. This is the kind of attitude and cast of mind that makes ordinary individuals into notable persons. It is what will help you forge a path toward success.

You should, however, take heed of signs that you press your perfectionism too far—to the point of being counterproductive.

The first indication, as you might expect, will come in your dating life. If you find yourself constantly ignored, rejected, and stood up by girls who seem perfectly sincere when they speak to you, then you might want to check yourself. The most likely explanation is that they find you too serious, too stiff, or, in that eternally stinging phrase, too nice. Courtesy and politeness taken to the extreme lead to boredom. And no girl wants to be with a guy who they may find sweet, but also predictable and deadly dull. To avoid this fate you should turn your natural inclination to please into the kind of edgy wit and banter that will charm and entertain the hotties that come your way.

Being shunned by co-workers is a second sign that you’ve strained perfectionism past its limit. No group of persons copes well with brilliance. The same is true of perfectionism. They will see you as either a show-off or someone who intends to raise the bar so high that none of them can reach it. In any case, you will be viewed as a nuisance; and, after word gets around, few people will want to work with you.

The best way to keep your standards up without alienating people is to politic. People like to believe they are smarter and better at their jobs than they actually are. Occasionally you should pass credit for pointing out an error or coming up with a good idea to a deserving team mate. It is a way of staying true to yourself while continuing your adherence to excellence.

The last area in which you may run into trouble is friendship. If you have trouble making friends, and keeping them, then you may want to consider whether you have about you an excessively haughty or aloof attitude—which is not a very appealing characteristic. The answer is to reign yourself in a bit. Indulging in a bit of lewdness and crudity when hanging out with the boys won’t kill you. Try to add lightness and gaiety to the social occasions you’re invited to.

Striving towards excellence is worthy of any man of the world. Just so long as you remember that worldliness implies the ability to deal with the people actually living in the world.

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About Christopher Reid Chris was born in Washington, D.C. and lives in Britain. He works as a blogger, essayist, and novelist. His first book, Tea with Maureen, has just been published.

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