Perfectionism drives individuals not just to excel, but to be the best at everything they do and at all times. A perfectionist will often expect excellence of others as well. This might sound reasonable, but it can be a huge strain on business and personal relationships, especially when you’re the one who has to deal with such an individual.
After all, no one is perfect, although perfectionists do their best to come close. And perfectionists can learn some very bad traits that are a direct result of their often unreasonable expectations. If someone you know and deal with is a perfectionist, here are some tips for managing expectations and overcoming the difficulties of perfectionism.
Perfectionists can be difficult to work with if you aren’t always up to the task, but this can be controlled early on by managing their expectations. If they come to you with unrealistic expectations, don’t just tell them so, but educate them as to why it is so. Explain in detail and have confidence while doing so as anything less than a confident explanation will seem like an excuse and they’re more than likely to take their business elsewhere. Randa Clay has this to say:
Often, clients don’t know what to expect or have unrealistic expectations. Knowing what their expectations are is the key to managing them. Since I am the one who sets their expectations – it’s my fault if they’re disappointed.
It is important to set these expectations right away as this is all they will have to go on until you are able to deliver. If you regularly have business with them, take note of how well you perform for them. Randa says:
Keeping track of how long it takes to do projects helps me to better estimate future jobs. I have to guard against overselling, especially when it’s a client I really want to work with.
One thing you can do to make sure they come away from the business relationship feeling satisfied is by managing their perception. It’s often not about how quickly you completed the transaction, but how quickly you completed in comparison with their expectations. Two contractors can work on the same project and finish it within a week. However, the one who tells their client they will be done in 10 days but finishes in 7 will have more satisfied customers than the contractor who says it will be done in 5 days but is 2 days late.
Anticipate What They Need
Expectations can change throughout a business relationship as a result of fluctuating conditions. This is something you have to be able to anticipate as well. Annie Pace Scranton of Forbes.com says:
This one definitely takes time and practice, but think about it: no one knows your business as well as you do. You know when things are going great and when you need to ramp up your efforts. It’s so important to share that with a client through a simple email stating “I’m going to spend extra time this week working on your project – I really want to get you out there as much as you do.” It can go a long way.
One thing you can do to figure out what they want before they know what they want is to drop a few hints or clues as to what direction you want to take and see how they react. That way, you can identify their main concerns, determine if their expectations are realistic or not, and step in when it reaches a point where their expectations might become unrealistic. A lot of people think that they can talk themselves out of anything, but knowing how to anticipate what they want will go a long way in keeping your business partners and clients happy.
Keep in Touch
If there is anything that is dangerous to a business relationship, it’s a lack of communication. This can lead to them feeling disconnected, ignored or not being properly cared for. Spinsucks.com says:
…some clients will prefer different methods and different lines will be better for different tasks. For example, an in-depth, bulleted email may be a good way to lay out important points before a phone meeting, while a video chat may be the best way to smooth things over when a client raises a concern. No matter, make sure to invest time into communication, rather than brushing it aside as a tertiary matter.
It can be tempting to stick to email since it’s the least annoying to deal with and takes the least time. However, email is the least personal of all communication and a client or business partner will quickly feel disconnected or ignored by you if you funnel all of your communication that way. Spinsucks.com says:
A good rule of thumb is to prioritize in-person meetings first, then face-to-face virtual hangouts using a tool such as Google+ Hangouts, Skype, or GoToMeeting. After that, go to the phone, then email.
This is similar to managing perception and is one of the keys to keeping your business relationships healthy. The secret is in not just doing more than is expected of you, but letting them know you are making the extra effort to over-deliver and getting them excited about it. Darren Shirlaw of GrowingBusiness says:
…you need to create an element of excitement about the extra activity. This means you have to be more creative in thinking about ways to make your customers feel special and ensure your customer service strategy accommodates the need to continually update your offering. It also means you need to consider how to build the cost of developing new value-added offers into your budgets on an on-going basis.
Keep in mind that this extra effort is something that will still cost money and needs to be factored into your pricing. If you can’t sustain it due to budget constraints, look somewhere else for where you can still add value.