“Have no fear of perfection—you’ll never reach it.”
According to Wikipedia, perfection is broadly a state of completeness and flawlessness. It is an ideal that we all strive to achieve. But is it imperative to be perfect in all that we do? The below people are undoubtedly the epitome of perfection, and they illustrate its follies.
1. Steve Jobs
Steve Job’s perfectionism was legendary. However, did you know that his obsessiveness with perfection caused him to be unable to purchase a couch for 10 years? In the book Steve Jobs, his wife Lauren Powell is quoted as saying,
“We spoke about furniture in theory for eight years. We spent a lot of time asking ourselves, ‘What is the purpose of a sofa?'”
Be on guard, and do not hide your indecision behind the mask of perfectionism. Instead of basing your decisions on subjective ideals of perfection, it is good to be objective when making decisions.
2. Lance Armstrong
Now disgraced cyclist Lance Armstrong admitted to doping as a means to live up to the perfect story—a hero who overcame a deadly diagnosis of testicular cancer, and went on to repeatedly win the Tour de France, while having a happy marriage and family. Perfectionism became his worst enemy.Advertising
Perfectionists have an intrinsic fear of failure. They wish to be a success at everything they do. Sometimes, to achieve that success, they pay a very steep price. Lance paid with his integrity to maintain his ideal of the perfect story. However, wouldn’t the world still consider him an ultra-human champion if he simply competed after his cancer recovery?
Something that a perfectionist would perceive as failure would be a moment of triumph for others. In general, one should be more accepting of their failures and think of them as a necessary part of the process. It is fine to make mistakes. In time, they become the stepping stones to success.
At 73, Michelangelo was working intensely on the sculpture, Florentine Pieta—the sculpture that many historians regard as his most mature and provocative work. He put in an enormous amount of personal effort and energy to make it the perfect sculpture, until one day, he took a sledge hammer, and chopped off the sculpture’s arms and legs. Why would he break apart one of his greatest works that was born after a decade of brutal labor and emotional pain ? Well, Michelangelo, a perfectionist, was angered by the flaws in the marble.
Perfectionists, tend to have excessively high performance standards of doing things. They invest all their energy to ensure that all the i’s are dotted and all the t’s crossed. However, many times this obsessive attention to detail, that manifests from the now or never attitude, takes up our valuable reserves of time and energy. This can lead them to abandon projects mid-way, and thus lose sight of the goals that matter the most.
4. Emma Watson
Did you know that Emma Watson cited perfectionism as the reason for taking a break from school?
In today’s world, it is difficult to narrow down our focus on the one most important thing. At work, it is expected of you to have competencies in multiple areas. At home, there are a lot of things that are fighting for our attention. Being a perfectionist does not allow multi-tasking. Instead it narrows down our choices and forces us to focus on one thing at a time, which, unlike Emma Watson, might not be a luxury everyone can enjoy.
5. Sheldon Cooper
The Ingenious Jim Parsons, portraying the character in Big Bang Theory is a classic example of a perfectionist personality that is not just obsessive and dogmatic, but also rigid and inflexible. He always wants to be in control of things, to the point of choosing and reserving his favorite seat in the apartment.
“In the winter that seat is close enough to the radiator to remain warm, and yet not so close as to cause perspiration. In the summer, it’s directly in the path of a cross-breeze created by opening windows there and there. It faces the television at an angle that is neither direct, thus discouraging conversation, nor so far wide as to create a parallax distortion. I could go on, but I think I’ve made my point.”
Perfectionists wish to have the perfect order in the universe, and to maintain the order, they become rigid and inflexible. Some go to the extent of controlling others, or if that does not work, they isolate themselves from society.
6. James Cameron
On re-releasing Titanic in 3D, James Cameroon, fixed the star constellation in the final scene of Titanic. In an interview he explains,
“Oh, there is one shot that I fixed. It’s because Neil deGrasse Tyson, who is one of the U.S.’ leading astronomers, sent me quite a snarky email saying that, at that time of year, in that position in the Atlantic in 1912, when Rose is lying on the piece of driftwood and staring up at the stars, that is not the star field she would have seen, and with my reputation as a perfectionist, I should have known that and I should have put the right star field in. So I said, ‘All right, you son of a bitch, send me the right stars for the exact time, 4:20 a.m. on April 15, 1912, and I’ll put it in the movie.’ So that’s the one shot that has been changed.”
Perfectionists often have trouble with focusing on priorities. They put in time and energy into things that are irrelevant, or of secondary importance. This in turn forces the projects to go in delays or excessive expenditure, where none might be required.Advertising
7. Bob Sullivan
When Bob, an investigative journalist, more than a decade ago was teaching at the University of Missouri Journalism School, asked his students, “What was the most important task of a newspaper editor?” His students shouted many answers such as “To break new stories,” “To be Fair,” etc. However, Bob said that none of that is true. What really matters for the Newspaper editor is the promise that the paper will be there every morning at 6 a.m when people wake up. He theorized:
“The most insidious of all human imperfections often lies hidden in the weeds most of our lives. But it rears its ugly head and screeches for our attention in an environment of intense deadlines. It kills all learning, and dooms us to a life of plateaus: the desire to be perfect”
Being a perfectionist forces us to conform with societal norms and expectations. A perfectionist ensures that there are no surprises—good or bad. The basic ingredients that make life interesting are weeded out leaving the perfectionist in a dull and boring world where each day is the same as the next one.
8. Russel Crowe
Russel’s perfectionist attitude has provided us with some thought provoking performances. However, perfectionism becomes a hurdle for him when dealing with criticism. When Adam Lambert criticized the director of Les Miserables for not finding better singers for the production, Russel Crowe, one of the leading actors in the movie, took the criticism personally. He recorded a studio version of his showpiece song in Les Miserables and posted it online, showcasing his singing talents. He blamed the poor vocals in the movie on the director, who insisted on shooting raw and real vocals, than the pre-recorded studio versions.
Perfectionist often view criticism as a personal attack and in turn become defensive when receiving feedback for their work. They are unable to take negative feedback in the right perspective. As a result, they bubble-wrap their weakness, instead of taking positive actions to deal with it in a healthy manner.
9. Sherlock Holmes
The famous detective’s perfectionist aspect is that he must have the most intriguingly complex case, to challenge his incredibly genius mind. However, when there is nothing to challenge him, he gets depressed and indulges in substance abuse.Advertising
“My mind rebels at stagnation. Give me problems, give me work, give me the most abstruse cryptogram or the most intricate analysis, and I am in my own proper atmosphere. I can dispense then with artificial stimulants. But I abhor the dull routine of existence. I crave for mental exaltation. That is why I have chosen my own particular profession, or rather created it, for I am the only one in the world.”
Perfectionism can make one depressed, frustrated and angry, especially if it does not see to bear the desired results. Most of the times being a perfectionist involves being anxious, and fearful of the imperfect world, which in turn leads to panic and anger that steadily turns into depression. It is a vicious circle that is not easy to get out of.
10. David Foster Wallace
David Foster Wallace, an award-winning American novelist, short story writer, essayist and professor, struggled with perfectionism.
“Perfectionism is very dangerous. Because of course if your fidelity to perfectionism is too high, you never do anything. Because doing anything results in…it’s actually kind of tragic because you sacrifice how gorgeous and perfect it is in your head for what it really is”
Perfectionists do tend to demonstrate the five dark Personality traits: Argumentative, Impersonal, Narcissistic, Insensitive and a Fear of Failure. Beware of these traits. In the end, the big question is would you embrace these traits as an acceptable cost of being successful? I sure would love to hear from you about that in the comments below.
Last Updated on February 20, 2019
How to Master Effective Communication Skills at Work and Home
Possessing effective communication skills is a powerful tool to have. Effective communication skills are essential to success in many aspects and areas of your life. There are a lot of jobs that require you to be a good communicator.
Strong communication skills help you enjoy better relationships with friends and family. Being an effective communicator will give you advantages in more ways than you can imagine.
Conversely, being poor at communicating will negatively impact your life.
Let’s take a look at how to master effective communication skills at work and home.
Table of Contents
What is Effective Communication?
Probably a good place to start is to paint a picture of what clear communication is.
Effective communication is defined as verbal speech or other communication methods to get your point across. Sounds pretty simple, right? It does but there’s more to it than that.
It’s really about how all of us interact and communicate in every aspect of our lives. It’s the ability to say something at the right time; to be able to get multiple people on the same page in a group decision. It’s how that one friend of yours who plans most of the activities is able to get everyone to the same place at the same time.
Non-verbal communication is key to being effective as well. It’s the ability to have your body language say the right thing so the person you’re speaking to knows your listening.
Effective communicators don’t react to situations with high emotion. It means not having to say something all the time in every situation. You are even being an effective communicator when you show up to pick your daughter up from the mall when you say you will. You are communicating to her that she can rely on you.
Are You a Poor Communicator?
Before we get too deep into how to be a master communicator, let’s take a look at your communication skills.
If you find yourself agreeing with a lot of these, you might want to sharpen your communication skills.
- You’re constantly interrupting – Hey, I know, we all want to be listened to. We all want to get our point across. Most importantly, we want to be understood. If you find yourself interrupting all the time you aren’t listening enough.
- Doing too much – Many of us are master multi-taskers. It’s not good if you are communicating with someone. When you try to do too much while speaking with someone, you aren’t paying attention to what they are saying. Lack of focus is bad.
- Rambling – I know of several people I work with who do this constantly. I honestly dread having to speak to them. The worst part is even though a lot of words are coming out of their mouths, they really aren’t saying anything. I’m more confused after they answer my question.
- Not being direct – Nothing wrong with emails or reports. However, if you can convey the same information quickly and directly to someone, it is much more effective. Why write a 2 paragraph email when you can pick up the phone and say the same information in 2 sentences?
- Always talking about yourself – Everybody likes to relate things to their own experiences. It draws us together and helps us create a feeling of sharing and community. If you are always coloring someone else’s conversation with a similar situation in your life, people will think you are making everything about you. Don’t be that person!
- Using a lot of qualifiers – Qualifiers are fine for the most part. When you use them as a crutch most of the time when you speak, it’s not helping your communication. Sometimes, we do this to makes things seem “softer”. Saying things like “I don’t want you to take this the wrong way but…” or “I know what you’re thinking but…” over and over doesn’t help you communicate.
- Your ears don’t work – If you don’t listen well, you can’t answer someone correctly. In order to be an effective communicator, you have to understand what someone else is saying to you. If you don’t listen with purpose you will only have part of the picture.
- Bad body language – The importance of body language is well documented. If you don’t look at someone when they are speaking, it appears that you don’t really care what’s being said. This makes people feel like you don’t care what they are saying and it’s not important to you. Other bad body language examples include always crossing your arms and not looking someone in the eyes.
What Effective Communication Can Do For You
Let’s take a look at how being able to effectively communicate can help you at work and in your personal relationships.
- Better client relationships – You certainly want a great communicator to be handling your client relationships. Strong communicators represent both the client and your company is the best manner.
- Higher employee engagement – Pretty critical if you are a leader or a manager of people. An engaging and interactive communicator in a leadership position is wonderful for employees.
- Getting better buy in from others – This is great whether you are a manager or individual contributor. Strong communicators tend to get people moving and working towards a common goal.
- Helps mitigate conflict – Good communicators are able to help resolve conflicts quicker and easier. This helps smooth things over and keeps projects and initiatives moving forward.
- Builds trust – You want to be able to trust who you work for and with. Effective communicators are good at establishing and building trust between people and groups.
- Solves problems – Problems are solved by people with the ability to communicate clearly between groups and people. Those without good communication skills many times add to the confusion of a problem because they are unable to articulate their thoughts and ideas.
- Creates closeness – A good communicator is able to help foster a feeling of closeness with his or her partner.
- Makes conflict okay – It’s actually better to fight with your partner from time to time instead of never fighting. We all have differences of opinion and points of view. When we don’t express these and bury it inside by not communicating, it just comes out later in a more negative form.
- Provides support – It’s nice to know that someone cares about you and supports you. A strong communicator will ask how you’re doing and be a good sounding board for what you’re going through.
- Expressing feelings – People who are not effective communicators tend to be not very good at expressing how they feel. This makes it tough to share your feelings with you partner.
- Get the loving you want – In order to get the physical, mental, and emotional love you want and need, you have to be able to communicate clearly and appropriately with your spouse or partner. This is done through effective communication.
- Eliminate mistrust, doubt, faithlessness, and insecurities – Many times these seeds are sown due to a lack of communication. If your partner rarely tells you where he or she is going, you will tend to start coming up with your own ideas. Often these aren’t true but how would you know if you aren’t told?
Can You Improve Your Communication Skills?
The short answer is yes, of course you can improve your communication skills.
Improving or changing anything in your life takes some work and effort but it can be done. You have to keep in mind your starting point and your goal.
If you are not a very good communicator now and you want to be able to give a motivating speech to a large graduating class, you’d better get working.
On the other hand, if you get along fairly well in general but want to be able to improve your relationship with your boss or spouse by being able to master effective communication, you may just need some guidance and practice.
Either way, if you want to master effective communication skills at both work and home, it will take a little work and effort. Doing so will benefit you in many ways.
How to Master Effective Communication Skills
In general mastering effective communication skills will help you at both work and home. Let’s look at how to improve verbal, written, and body language communication skills. These will help you create better relationships everywhere you go!
1. Learn how to listen
Speaking is only half of the communication equation. Sharpen your listening skills so you are able to process what the other person is saying. You can then respond it a well-informed manner.
Check out these active listening guidelines to be a better listener.
2. Make eye contact
Having regular eye contact with someone while you are having a conversation shows you care what they are saying. When you are looking at the floor or out the window it gives the impression that you aren’t paying attention.
Take a look at this advice on how to make engaging eye contact.
3. Ask questions
When you ask someone questions, you are able to clarify what they are saying to ensure you get the whole picture. If you don’t understand it fully, ask questions.
Do you know that it takes some skills to ask questions too? Here’s how to be good at asking questions.
4. Watch body language
Watch both yours and the other persons.
We all know if you have a conversation with your arms crossed the entire time, it gives off a bad vibe. Have open, engaging body language when speaking with someone.
On the flip side, if you see someone’s eyes glazing over while speaking to you, it’s probably a good idea to wrap it up.
Take a look at these top 20 body language indicators to learn more.
5. Speak confidently
Sometimes this is easier said than done. If you communicate in an open, direct, and clear manner, it subtly shows people that you are confident in what you are saying.
It doesn’t mean you always have to be right but delivering your thoughts with confidence helps your case.
These tips will help you speak more confidently.
6. Keep it simple
You don’t always have to be succinct in your communication. There is a lot of value in being able to tell a great story.
That being said, there are many instances where keeping it simple is very helpful. This is especially true at work in both verbal conversations as well as written like emails.
7. Know your audience
You should have a certain style when communicating with your boss. Another style of communication is better with your spouse and probably others with your kids or friends.
Know your audience to help you communicate the most effectively.
8. Be empathetic and understanding
There is a massive amount of power in being empathetic. And I mean that in a very positive way.
Showing that you are empathetic and understanding to another person goes a long way to creating a great bond with that person. We all want to be understood. It’s that simple.
Think it’s a challenge for you? These 5 tips for empathetic listening will help you.
9. Pause before reacting
There have been a number of times when I’ve read an email that just came in and had an instant reaction to reading it. And I don’t mean a positive reaction. My less effective ways of dealing and communicating has been to send a scathing email back.
When I’ve communicated more appropriately, I’ve waited a while before I responded. This is true in verbal situations as well.
10. Over communicate
You’d think if you tell someone something that should be the end of it, right? Done deal. Not so fast.
I’m not recommending you tell someone the same thing 10 times in a row. With as many distractions as we all have these days, it’s generally a good idea to follow up on something you’ve communicated a few times if it’s important.
Having effective communication skills at both work and home will help you immensely.
At work, it helps you in your career in many ways.
Communicating well with your boss leads to a solid, symbiotic working relationship. You’re able to clearly articulate what you need to do your job well. You can share your vision and strategy with your boss and others. Good communicators are needed in management roles and leading others. Fostering an environment of effective communication leads to a great work environment.
At home, having effective communication skills will help you achieve the type of relationship you want with your spouse.
You are able to speak freely and openly about your feelings. You can share your wants and needs in a manner that your spouse understands. Your spouse will feel understood and supported by you which is a wonderful feeling to have. And being able to have a disagreement and work through it due to strong communication skills is amazing.
Look at how you can master effective communication skills at work and home to help create more satisfying relationships in all phases of your life.
More Resources About Work Communication
- Conflict Management Styles for Effective Communication at Work
- 13 Best Communication Books for Stronger Social Skills & Relationships
- How to Work with Different Communication Styles in the Office
- How a Lack of Communication Can Drastically Impact Your Career
Featured photo credit: NeONBRAND via unsplash.com