Out of all the different negative personality traits you can have, perfectionism is probably the one with the most prestige. It is almost not a negative trait at all.
When I think of perfectionism I automatically picture perfectly aligned pens and pencils. I imagine a perfectly ordered wardrobe. An immaculate presentation.
Yet arguably this is not perfectionism at all, but rather just high standards – a good thing.
What’s the difference I hear you ask?
Well high standards comes from a place of passion whilst perfectionism comes from a place of fear. It is the fear of failure which drives perfectionism, meaning often perfectionists never actually get to where they want to go because they are too afraid to try.
Perfectionism doesn’t just show its ugly head in work output, however. It can also be at play in your workplace social interactions.
With so much hinged on our social standing and reputation these days (maybe always), the fear of a social faux pas can be high. So high in fact, you may unwittingly be a social perfectionist.
Here are five signs you may be suffering from the old social perfectionism:
1) You hide away when you’re ill
It is perfectly normal to not be a social butterfly when you feel awful. However, if you completely hide away from the world when you aren’t feeling great you may be a social perfectionists. Think about it – social perfectionists are terrified of not getting things perfect, so if you can’t achieve perfect you might not want to be around people at all.
2) You completely avoid people who don’t like you
None of us want to go out for dinner with someone who despises us, yet (unfortunately) you’ll find it hard to go through life without gaining a few people (colleagues etc) who just don’t like you. It is part of life. If you avoid people who don’t like you/you’ve had disagreements with like the plague, however, this could be a sign you’re a social perfectionist.
3) A real fear of public speaking
The social perfectionist likes to be in control and composed at all times. The thought of speaking in front of a large uncontrollable audience, therefore, would strike terror into any perfectionist. Again it all comes back to fear.
4) You’re very hard on yourself for any social mishap
Try as we might, its hard to go through life without embarrassing or shaming ourselves in some shape or form. It’s fine, we’re all human and we can’t be perfect all the time – or so most people think. Not the social perfectionist. The social perfectionist may take years to forgive themselves for one awkward sentence.
5) You find it hard to show emotional vulnerability
Despite work not being personal, its hard not (at some stage) to show some vulnerability in the workplace. Especially when things become stressful etc. If you completely shut down at the prospect of any genuine emotion slipping out at work, you may be a perfectionist.
Remember, social perfectionism comes from fear. Fear of failure. The only way to overcome fear is by a counter passion. Being terrified about making mistakes could stop you growing. Sometime being ugly is part of getting better.