Difficult Personalities: The Perfectionist

If something is not perfect, the perfectionist becomes negative. This person's standards of performance are not realistic, and even excellent work that is praised by others is unacceptable to him or her.

An example of this is the perfectionist parent whose child graduates valedictorian from high school with a 98.5 grade-point average. The parent asks the child (seriously) what happened to the other 1.5 points.

We see perfectionist behavior at work all the time. Some managers have excellent performers but never rate them in the top category on performance reviews. THe favorite saying of the perfectionist is "It could have been better."

For example, take this exchange between a perfectionist bank branch supervisor and his tellers.

Perfectionist supervisor: It's now taking us an average of 50 seconds to serve each customer who comes to one of our windows. I want to bring that time down.

Brave teller: The average time at the other branches is 70 seconds. We're doing extremely well. The national average is 75.

Perfectionist supervisor: I'll never be satisfied with our service time unless it gets down to zero.

The Solution

Do not take these people's statements seriously. They are expressing their own inadequacies, not yours. Try to work with them so that they can set realistic expectations for themselves and others.

Get tips for another difficult personality > >

Find your workplace nemesis from
14 personality descriptions.
Cope better with these 5 tips.

Excerpted from Managing Workplace Negativity by Gary Topchik, published by AMACOM Books

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