Perfectionists have their place in business. They tend to be high achievers and often serve as critics who can help weed out flaws from products and processes.
But these folks have it rough in some ways. They also can be inwardly or outwardly reactionary and easily annoyed by others who operate at a different pace or have laid-back personalities. If this is you, here are some ways to get some peace.
Understand you don't know the whole story.
A slow driver holding up your commute might be a 16-year-old novice or an 86-year-old woman who is insecure about her driving abilities. What if the person is sick and driving himself to the doctor? What if she just learned terrible news and keeping up with traffic is the least of her concerns?
The point is you will never know anyone's complete back story. The coworker who constantly wastes your time bragging about her kids may be harboring deep insecurities and have no friends. And is there any possibility the person not returning your emails might be distracted with a huge project and not intentionally blowing you off?
You can take it.
Some people have what psychologists call a "low frustration tolerance (LFT)," which is the tendency to hold distorted beliefs such as "I can't stand this" or "this is driving me out of my mind," thinking that contributes to behaviors such as avoidance, addictions, outbursts of anger, procrastination, and negativity that alienates others. The reality, points out the self-help website Emoclear.com, is that humans can actually withstand a great deal. In fact, we can endure things until they kill us.
To raise your tolerance for frustration it can help to purposely and repeatedly expose yourself to situations that trigger feelings of discomfort and annoyance. The next time you're impatient with a line that seems to be going nowhere or a driver moving painfully slowly try the "I Stood it Exercise" which involves identifying the thing you can't stand, setting a timeframe you'll force yourself to withstand it, recognize the long-term rewards for not feeling frustrated in the situation and admit that if someone paid you a million dollars to bear the situation, you easily could. At the end of your self-induced frustration recognize that you tolerated the circumstances just fine.
Turn demands into preferences.
Anger often results because we believe people should or must behave in a certain way even though we live in an imperfect world filled with flawed people. Instead, consider the beliefs causing your hostility and if you find any "shoulds" in your thinking, turn them into "likes" instead, reframing mental demands as preferences.
For example, "people should clean up after themselves in the break room" becomes "I prefer it when people clean up after themselves in the break room." That way, when someone fails to perform to your expectations you're more likely to be merely disappointed instead of pissed off. It's not to say you have to agree with people who do things differently than you'd like, or that you can't endeavor to enact change. But remember, the only person's behavior you can truly control is your own.
Be intentional about your reactions.
According to a recent Psychology Today story, the number of annoying and annoyed people is growing. Marcia Reynolds, Psy.D, recommends choosing your battles and taking the high road when someone behaves in an aggravating manner. Her advice: Ignore petty annoyances, refrain from displaying negative non-verbal communication such as rolling your eyes, calm yourself with meditative deep breathing, and ask yourself if the situation will matter in the future, which it probably won't.
"Consciously and deliberately choose your reaction. This is your power. Don't give it away," she writes.
Count your blessings.
Ingratitude is a modern pandemic. Viewed against the backdrop of history the fact that you live in a free society and enjoy modern conveniences such as running and hot water, refrigeration, and transportation that doesn't involve a four-legged creature should help color your thinking regarding minor inconveniences such as slow lines, people with poor social skills, or bumps in your career path.