The next time in a job interview you are asked what your biggest weakness is, think twice before answering that you are "too perfectionist". The misconception that wanting to make everything perfect is widespread is a desirable quality. But, although it is one of the most socially accepted defects, it is also one of the most harmful in the day to day work. A wolf in sheep's clothing. When looking closely, their few advantages remain in nothing in the shadow of the inconvenience that comes with the hand. It is necessary to say it loud and clear: perfectionism is not, by far, synonymous with an optimal result.
It is true that some aspects of this feature can be beneficial. Personality psychology indicates that perfectionists strive to produce impeccable work (which they almost never achieve) and have higher levels of motivation and awareness of the need to complete their work. The problem is that the results they get are never good enough for them and finishing their daily tasks becomes an endless torture. The deadlines are your enemies: little causes more anxiety than having to deliver a project they never consider finished.
A meta-analysis of 95 studies conducted between the 1980s and the present makes it clear that perfectionism is not a desirable characteristic for a worker: it is a greater weakness than human resources managers imagine. The research has examined the relationship between thoroughness and employee productivity. Analyzing the data of the nearly 25,000 participants, he has found that perfectionists set inflexible and excessively high standards, evaluate their behavior too critically and have an all-or-nothing mentality about their performance. Either it is perfect or it is unpresentable.
This becomes a particularly serious problem because their self-esteem usually depends on achieving excellence in their results, a totally unrealistic goal. Their level of exigency produces a frustration difficult to manage. They believe that they will lose the respect of others if they do not achieve their goals and also seek perfectionism in the peers around them. All this plot of thoughts deteriorates your mental and emotional health. The meta-analysis, conducted by researchers from different universities in the United States, has also found that perfectionists have higher levels of stress, exhaustion and anxiety.
Does wanting to constantly improve their work help them to be more efficient in the company? The answer is no. "It is possible that especially meticulous employees spend too much time filing certain projects while neglecting others," explains the research team responsible for the meta-analysis. "One would expect perfectionism to improve performance because of its commitment and motivation. But that possible positive impact is offset by a greater likelihood of depression and anxiety. It has a general detrimental effect on employees and organizations. "
Finished is better than perfect
One of the reasons for this lack of productivity is that insisting on improving something can lead workers to stagnate. In fact, procrastination is another of the collateral damage that perfectionism can bring. Meticulous employees tend to postpone things. According to work psychologist Elisa Sánchez, "paralysis is common when the proposed goals are not reasonable."
Therefore, it is more advisable to leave several tasks at 80% than to focus on finishing one at 100%. The perception of the workers is very different when they feel they have three tasks well done than when they have a perfect one and two without starting. In that case, your stress level increases and you have the feeling of being over the edge.
One of the problems that experts point out is that these people have associated lack of perfection with failure. "Much of the energy that drives perfectionism comes from the desire to avoid failure," explains Andrew Hill, an associate professor at York St. John University (United Kingdom) and co-author of the research. "A perfectionist sees each challenge as an opportunity to fail." His fear is that if he does not achieve excellence, he will expose some internal weakness or frailty. Hence, stress. One of the solutions is to promote perseverance, flexibility and diligence. These are desirable qualities, summarize the positive part of perfectionism and do not come hand in hand with the fears that follow the pursuit of excellence.
A worrying fact is that this need to achieve optimal results is fashionable. More and more young people incorporate that goal into their lives: a longitudinal study with data from almost 42,000 young people around the world found that perfectionism has increased over the past 27 years. The results, published in the journal Psychological Bulletin, indicate that recent generations are more demanding with themselves and with others.
The researchers concluded that perfectionism is on the rise and that, more specifically, young people feel that others are very demanding of them and that they have to be up to the task. This type of perfectionism increased twice as fast over the years. It is also the one that is most associated with a series of mental health problems that include anxiety, depression and social phobia.
Perfectionism stops us. Here is why. Our culture is obsessed with perfectionism, to the point that we even see it as something probable and attainable. But it's just an illusion. Charly Haversat, exatleta professional and reformed perfectionist -as she defines herself-, explains in this talk TED the need to create cultures in which citizens are not afraid to fail.
COURSES AND WORKSHOPS
Managing success and failure Many of the problems derived from wanting to achieve excellence come from having distorted basic notions in a professional career, such as success and failure. This workshop aims to demystify these two concepts and define a more realistic vision of both. Establish that success and failure are two sides of the same coin and emphasize the importance and progress that is a "no, but almost".
Symmetry. In order to test what has been learned, this game for the mobile proposes challenges that go up from difficulty to complete symmetrical images. The objective is to reflect a series of logical patterns that appear on the screen. "He was born to satisfy the strange and universal feeling of well-being produced by symmetrical things," the description reads. It is available for iOS and Android