Is your perfectionism undermining someone else's work?

A friend of mine told me about how she would help her mother-in-law pack the dishwasher from time to time; a lovely gesture. Unfortunately, she would return to find that the contents had been taken out and packed again in a completely different order.

Evidently, her mother-in-law has a certain way of doing things and likes to keep it that way. This is understandable and fair enough. However, sometimes the cost of keeping things ‘perfectly’ in order, according to our own preferences, is somebody else’s feelings.

When we undo someone else’s work in order to maintain our preferred status quo, no matter how ‘small’ the work may seem, we negate their efforts and invalidate the concern or love that prompted them to help in the first place.

This doesn’t mean we cannot say, “Hey, thanks for the effort you put into 'x'. Would you mind if we did it this way because...”

A high level of attention to detail and meticulous execution is necessary in certain situations. Perfectionists need to get better at determining which situations they are.

Next time you are tempted to push ‘delete’ on somebody else’s work and replace it with your own, it might help to ask yourself how consequential the impacts of leaving it as is, would be. And what exactly is at stake? Most of the time, it’s probably not as big a deal as perfectionists make it out to be.

Just because they might not put the same level of care into something, as you would, does not make it careless. 

Culture says it’s okay to trample on others on your way to success. Be counter-cultural.