For most of us, we have great days at work when we're really on top of our game. Then, there are other days when we don't do our best work, and we know it.
But a perfectionist can never let anything slide. He or she believes that everything has to be perfect, every single time. They cannot walk away until they feel something is just right.
When you work with someone like this, it can be a blessing and a curse. A perfectionist often catches mistakes or ensures quality control, making everyone's work shine brighter. So, that's a blessing.
But when this same perfectionist co-worker makes everyone stay late on a Friday night because he's obsessing over every detail for a presentation to be delivered Monday, then it's a curse.
So how do you best deal with a perfectionist colleague?
1. Know there is good and bad. It's unfair and unprofessional for you to trash talk this person when you know that he adds value to any project with his attention to detail and quality of work delivered. But it's OK to also feel exasperated when this colleague holds up work or puts more pressure on others with perfectionist tendencies. Remind yourself that while this person may believe in perfectionism, you know that doesn't exist. In other words, the perfectionist isn't perfect and neither are you.
2. Pick your battles. It will make for an increasingly stressful work environment if you constantly fight with a perfectionist, who feels there is nothing wrong with offering unsolicited advice on what you do wrong. Here is where you can choose to control your reaction: 1) thank him for his comments and go on with your day; 2) tell him that you don't agree and walk away; or 3) try to see some merit in what the perfectionist offers, but don't let it undermine your self-esteem. How you respond will depend on the situation, but try role playing with a trusted colleague or friend to see how you feel reacting in various situations and are prepared so that you respond appropriately and not in anger.
3. Have excuses ready. If the perfectionist seems to corner you with his advice, always have something ready to move yourself away from the situation. "I've got a meeting/call soon. I'm going to have to go." Or, "I can't chat now. Maybe later. I've got to go." Even, "I just remembered I forgot to give Brad an important message. I'm going to have to cut this short."
How do you deal with perfectionists?