More Americans, Canadians and Britainers between the ages of 18 – 36 self -identify as perfectionists than in previous generations. According to a recent study by the American Psychological Association (APA). This means that Millennials are harder on themselves, more demanding of others and report higher levels of social pressure to be perfect than at any other time in history.
Primarily, there are three types of perfectionism.
- Self-oriented perfectionism – tying one’s self worth to achievements (+10%)
- Socially prescribed perfectionism – allowing others’ expectations to dictate one’s expectations of themselves (+33%)
- Other-oriented perfectionism – demanding that other people rise up to meet one’s own high standards (+16%)
Given the economy Millennials inherited, disappearing middle class jobs and the constant grind of social media, it’s no wonder that these young people are tending towards perfectionism more than ever before.
This APA report states, “…more recent generations…appear to be imposing more demanding and unrealistic standards on those around them than previous generations…we speculate that this may be because American, Canadian and British cultures have become more individualistic, materialistic and socially antagonistic…with young people now facing more competitive environments, more unrealistic expectations and more anxious and controlling parents than generations before.”
Like everything, perfectionism has pros and cons. One of its pros is that perfectionism can help us strive for success. Another is that it can help us strive to become the very best version of ourselves at work and at home. One of its cons is that perfectionism can make us feel more anxious and/or more fearful of potential rejection and/or failure.
No doubt you’ve encountered people at your real estate firm who say things such as, “If I can’t do something perfectly, it’s not worth doing.” Or people who fear that they won’t be respected at work if others discover that they’re flawed human beings who didn’t “deliver” on a project or at a meeting or didn’t close the sale.
If you as the broker or sales manager in your firm have Millennial agents who are perfectionists, try some of these techniques to help quiet unhealthy perfectionist tendencies.
- Suggest that perfectionists write down some pros and cons of having to be perfect all the time. A pro might be something like, “My colleagues admire my hard-working, conscientious attitude.” Another might be, “I like that others in the office know they can count on me.” A con might be “If I make a mistake or don’t reach my sales goal, everyone will hate me.” Another con might be “Other agents think I’m demanding or that I can’t stop worrying or that I procrastinate all the time.”
- Once that perfectionist pros/cons list is long (and honest), suggest that they come up with some alternative points of view and/or statements. For example, instead of saying they feel ashamed and worthless, one could say, “There’s always room for improvement,” or “I see mistakes as being opportunities for growth and learning.”
- Suggest that perfectionists separate fact from fiction…rational and irrational fears.
You as the broker or managing sales agent know that changing how we think changes how we feel. Encouraging perfectionist Millennials to be as specific and as honest about what is really going on and how to solve the problem with the smallest, incremental steps will help overwrought perfectionists become realistic, action-oriented doers.