How to Collaborate with a Perfectionist - Deepstash

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Figure Out Which Type of Perfectionist You’re Dealing With

Figure Out Which Type of Perfectionist You’re Dealing With

There are two types of perfectionists.

  • Avoidant perfectionists have trouble beginning tasks. Deadlines trigger their anxiety about doing things perfectly, and therefore, they drag their feet when starting a new project.
  • Obsessive perfectionists tend to struggle to complete tasks. Both kinds of perfectionists have trouble prioritizing and struggle to allocate their time according to what’s most important. Both types also share a habit of expanding the scope of projects. But how you deal with these traits may differ according to the type you’re dealing with.

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Don’t Internalize Unrealistic Expectations

Don’t Internalize Unrealistic Expectations

Perfectionists tend to equate time with quality, so you’ll need to be particularly thoughtful and diplomatic in explaining why you don’t want to spend that much time on this project. The goal is to explain the opportunity cost of spending excess time filling in ten marginally useful columns of data when you could be serving the company in more productive ways.

Be specific and detailed about what those “more productive ways” are, and clear and concrete in explaining why those additional 10 columns won’t be useful.

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Giving Feedback

Giving Feedback

Find out how your perfectionist colleague prefers to receive feedback. Some will prefer to receive it via email so they have a chance to privately process any initial defensive reactions they have.

Self-aware perfectionists typically come-around to a constructive reaction once they’ve had time for their initial strong responses to feedback subside.

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Support Processes that Help the Team Focus on the Big Picture

During team meetings, you might ask:

  • Is there a simpler way we can achieve our goal?
  • Can we shrink down the amount of time we’re spending?
  • What’s the opportunity cost of spending extra time on this versus another task?

For projects where you’re working with a perfectionist, you can also try creating a basic checklist to help the group stay organized, relieve anxieties surrounding to-dos, and ensure that nothing is being overlooked.

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Set Boundaries

Set Boundaries

A perfectionist’s unrealistic expectations can unintentionally make their teammates feel like their time is not being valued. Let’s take the example of a hard-driving perfectionist who sends you an excessive number of emails — each one with a different question or suggestion — when he’s feeling overwhelmed.  You have to try setting boundaries.

It’s important to recognize that every individual will engage in some self-sabotaging behaviours that, in turn, affect the rest of the team. But by developing boundaries, you will create a culture that encourages personal growth.

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Enhance Feelings of Security Through Mutual Influence

Mutual influence is when a teammate allows you to influence their way of thinking and vice versa. It is an important factor that helps any relationship feel more secure.

If a perfectionist’s habits irritate you, try compromising. Identify elements of their routine that may be useful to incorporate into your own. If you expect someone else to bend to your way, then you need to show that you’re willing to bend to theirs.

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