After you have identified that you are a perfectionist and the level of perfectionism you are demonstrating you will need to work on change that for good. That is more connected with your behavior. The work you will have to do is re-structure your behavior in a way that will help you to no longer be a victim of perfectionistic traits. I will offer you here several steps I followed to move forward:
Become less driven
The driven personality is often accepted as a person who experiences more stress than others. This type of person is more susceptible to health problems. Strong driven persons are having more chance of a heart attack than others. You will recognize if you are some of them after you honestly look at some of the characteristics that describe those persons. They can be easily recognized by these characteristics:
Fast In walking talking and speaking
Does too many things at once
You can learn to modify that behavior. You must ask yourself questions like Who is making you work long hours? Who do you compete to and do they know about that competition? Etc. Answering this and several others questions to yourself will help you to realize what working so fast causes to you and will help you to restructure your work and efforts to save on stress and high risks – will help you to become less driven and happier.
Because becoming less driven means to take more time for yourself. This means to take time for lunch, break, walk, etc. You will need to understand that long hours don’t necessarily mean high performance and that it is only up to you to manage that successfully. You can easily achieve that by setting rules for work and allocate time for fun and relaxation and demand from yourself to keep that time the way you put it in your schedule.
Improve your communication
Perfectionism affects the way you communicate with others. That varies depending on the type of perfectionism and how you are affected. You, for example, may react to others judgmental if they don’t meet your standards, you may start communicating in a non-assertive way to avoid disapproval, you may react defensively and then aggressive when you feel criticized, etc.
To improve your communication you must learn to start listening to others and minimize the level of criticism you put to their positions. Also, you will need to stop focusing on yourself and start listening effectively and react in a more positive way. This may, in the beginning, reduce some of your-self-confidence but in a long way will improve your communication and acceptance from others.
There are four main styles of communication: Aggressive, Passive, Passive/aggressive and Assertive. To become more assertive you will need to start following some rules. Look at my list of rules:
- Don’t criticize the person, criticize the behavior;
- Listen actively
- If feeling anxious during discussion take a deep breath and calm yourself;
- Be open and honest – admit when you are wrong;
- Be clear and direct – know what you are saying and use short sentences;
- Use confident and open body language;
- Be positive in what you say;
- Look for a win/win outcomes.
If you have some other rules for being more assertive, include them in the list. But don’t forget that after you have included something in the list you must invest efforts in doing it.
Learn to deal with criticism
As a perfectionist when you feel criticized it is more likely that you respond in a child ego state with a strong urge to react defensively. If your reaction is like that then the discussion you will try to lead will become polarized and will go the way me against you. But if your reaction of criticism is more like the reaction of an adult person, then you will be able to react in a more positive and winning way. If you accept the criticism as a constructive element you will have more clues on how you can improve. That means to accept the criticism as a way to learn instead of something you must run from and defend.
The key element here is LISTENING. It involves hearing what another person has to say and making an attempt to understand their point of view. But you must remember that if you are overly critical about the other person you will only focus on their mistakes(defensive behavior) or overly critical of yourself, you may miss important aspects of what others have to say to you, because you will be focused only on what to say to minimize your feelings of inadequacy. To deal successfully with offered from other criticism you will need to focus on several steps:
- Listen first
- Ask for more information, clarification or examples;
- Ask for time to consider;
- Ask yourself why are you defensive;
- Try to accept others point of view without doubling it;
- If you disagree with that point of view say it clearly and then move forward;
We often feel that we may need to “help” others by giving them feedback about behaviors they have shown. If you are in a position where you need to criticize someone you may need to follow strict rules to ensure there will be a positive exit from the situation. Here are some rules I am following when I have to give criticism to someone:
- Always do it in private;
- Acknowledge positives as well as negatives;
- Avoid becoming too personal ;
- Criticize the behavior, not the person;
- Describe your feelings and how they are affected by the behavior;
- Listen to their response;
- If change is required, be specific about it;
- Explain the benefits of changing and if necessary consequences of not changing;
Even if you follow all the rules I have shared, you will still need to look at one vital component of the communication process – THE BODY LANGUAGE. If your body says one thing and your words say something else than the person you are talking to will be more likely to respond to the body signals you are sending and treat your words as dishonesty. When giving feedback or criticizing someone’s behavior watch about:
– Your facial expression;
-Your position and posture.
Those three elements can win you or make you lose in the game of criticizing others constructively.
Perfection is not a disease, but still, if you don’t learn to manage it can destroy your life and relationships. To successfully manage perfectionism you must first understand all the elements responsible for it, accept them as they are and agree on yourself that they need to be changed for good. If you achieve that level of understanding you can then plan your way to deal with perfectionism and change your situation for good. Dealing with perfectionism is a complex process and if you are not ready to change your results may be poor and disappointing. That is why, when you decide to walk the path of changing your perfectionism thinking and behavior you will need to accept that there are going to be many up’s and downs during the walk and you and only you can decide on the end result from this path.