Perfectionism at Work: Practical Ways to Tackle it

Perfectionism at Work: Practical Ways to Tackle it

No human being is flawless, but you can reinvent "perfect" as accepting your flaws.

Editorial Team

Perfectionism at work is frequently regarded as a positive trait. A perfectionist is typically detail-oriented, does good work, and is always eager to take on new challenges. Perfectionism, on the other hand, may eventually hinder your professional effectiveness.

They are often critical of their work, even when it is done well, and the person who is a perfectionist establishes unrealistically high criteria and expectations for themselves.

In this article, we'll cover the ways to deal with being a perfectionist and why being a perfectionist is terrible in the workplace.

Why is Perfectionism Bad in the Workplace?

In most interview situations, perfectionism is considered a "faux-fault." When asked to identify a professional "weakness," this is the standard response. It's a self-protective trait worth mentioning because it's often harmless, if not advantageous, in the Workplace. Right?

However, Voltaire, a French philosopher, remarked, "Perfect is the enemy of the good,". This is a difficult lesson for some of us to grasp. We want to be "perfect" and be acknowledged for various reasons, including fear of failing, not being good enough, and comparing ourselves to others.

Nobody is flawless, and striving for perfection is a pointless and deadly pursuit. Striving to do great work is excellent, but achieving an unrealistic standard reduces effectiveness. Perfectionism at work is also demotivating because they always push themselves for excellence.

Considering all of that, perfectionism can have a detrimental impact at work on productivity, employee relations, efficiency, and other factors. Perfectionism also has a negative impact on one's entire health and well-being.

How to Let Go of Perfectionism at Work?

Here are some thoughts and practical ways to help you break free from the perfectionist mindset and way of life so you, too, can become a "recovering perfectionist."

Setting More Reasonable Goals

Setting more attainable, SMART goals is one way to let go of perfectionism. When you are realistic and healthily challenge yourself, you will feel less stressed and more confident in achieving your goals. Setting objectives might assist you in motivating yourself and focusing on what is most important in your career. Meaning of SMART:

  • Specific
  • Measurable
  • Attainable
  • Relevant
  • Time-based

Realize the Disadvantages of Perfectionism

If you're willing, honestly reflecting on perfectionism's negative influence on your career and life can be beneficial. If you're frequently missing deadlines, freaking out your coworkers, allowing things to slip through the cracks, or feeling pressured and overwhelmed, recognizing the underlying ramifications of such problems can bring awareness and help you take measures to approach your work differently.

Try Saying "No" More Regularly

Many perfectionists are ambitious and seize every chance. However, accepting every chance can lead to an overload of labor. Turn decline extra chores that are unrelated to your interests. Saying "no" gives you more control over your workload and allows you to invest in yourself and your skills.

Minimize Negative Influences

It's also critical to keep an eye on how social media, TV and movies, books, and podcasts might foster perfectionism. We should be particularly cautious about how social media promotes a narrative of "hustle culture" and perfectionism in our work. If you need to limit or delete these channels, it can also help us move away from perfectionism.

Realize the value of Self-care

Instead of striving for perfection, strive for a decent work-life balance. Self-care is a vital component in achieving a healthy work-life balance. While everyone's definition of self-care differs, it might include:

  • Setting limits
  • Creating a work regimen
  • Eating foods that you enjoy
  • Making time for your hobbies
  • Getting enough sleep each night

Acceptance of Yourself

Some argue that perfectionism is a protective mechanism caused by what perfectionists believe to be flaws in others that they cannot accept. However, being kind to yourself is the best approach to embrace yourself and help eliminate perfectionism. Remind yourself of your abilities and capabilities, and speak to yourself as you would to a friend. Every day, challenge yourself to commend yourself on something new.

Bonus Tip: Three Books for Dealing with Perfectionism at Work

This book is for you if you need real solutions to your perfectionism problem. The author of How to Be an Imperctionist argues that taking little, purposeful acts is the solution to perfectionism.

Instead of striving for perfection and feeling stressed, making minor modifications and accepting imperfection can lead to more satisfaction and contentment.

This book is ideal for anyone looking to understand the perfectionist mind and find an effective way to change.

We are educated from a young age to be flawless and act in specific ways. However, the pursuit of perfection is exhausting and never-ending. It only makes us feel ashamed.

This book, written by famous author Brene Brown, challenges you to investigate the factors that drive the demand for perfection. It assists you in discovering healthy strategies to regain your self-worth and appreciate your flaws.

Being imperfect does not imply being insufficient. This book will help you understand and create resilience in the face of shame. As a shame researcher, the author encourages us to discuss our challenges and flaws rather than hide them.

This book is for you if you are continually criticized or humiliated for your flaws.

The book, Pursuit of Perfect, which employs positive psychology, alters your perception of success and failure. It teaches you how to distinguish between healthy and pathological perfectionism.

The author uses the term "Optimist" to describe someone with healthy perfectionism and "Perfectionist" to describe someone with pathological perfectionism in the book. The optimist accepts reality and failure, but the perfectionist does not.

This book aims to teach you how to become an optimist. You will learn to focus on the positives through a series of meditations.


Perfectionism at work can limit you for various reasons, including productivity, effectiveness, enjoyment, and well-being. No human being is flawless, but you can reinvent "perfect" as accepting your flaws. Be true to yourself—own your talents, strengths, and limitations.