The Perfectionist Personality Type

The Perfectionist is one of the nine personality types. Also called the Reformer, Perfectionists are rational and principled, as well as purposeful and self-controlled, often to the point of being overly critical of themselves and others. As advocates of change, they have a desire to be useful and strive to improve. They tend to be conscientious and highly ethical, often possessing extremely high standards.

Perfectionists have an innate fear of making mistakes and often feel they must justify their actions to themselves and those around them. Because emotions are ‘messy’ and often result in poor decisions, they have a tendency to ‘keep a lid on things’, especially any feelings or desires that appear to them to be against their high moral standards.

At their best, Perfectionists are wise, noble and discerning. Famous examples of Perfectionists at their best include Kate Middleton, Gandhi and Nelson Mandela. Each of these people is/was driven to help others, to make a positive change in the world based on their deep-seated morals. Their principles and purpose allow them to make effective change in the world.

At their worst, Perfectionists are irrational, impatient, extremely critical and judgmental. They can tend toward intolerance and self-righteousness, believing that they alone know the truth. They can also become obsessive about the wrongdoing and imperfections of others while falling into contradictory actions themselves. When under stress, Perfectionists are easily angered and also tend to quickly take offense. Martha Stewart is an example of the Perfectionist temperament that tends toward some of the negative attributes including withholding affection, being overly stubborn and overbearing.

In romantic relationships, Perfectionists can be overly critical of their mate. Because Perfectionists have a tendency to suppress their instinctual drives and emotions, they can erect a wall between themselves and their partner, distancing themselves emotionally and often physically.

Perfectionists are ‘people of instinct and passion who use their convictions and judgment to control and direct themselves and their actions.’  Guided by their passion or purpose and ethics, they can institute amazing change but to be a good partner, they also need to allow themselves to be the emotional being that we as humans are. Perfectionists also need to subdue their need to be right and tone down their criticism of themselves, as well as their mate.

Below are recommendations for Perfectionists on how to make the best of their innate temperament.

  • Learn to relax and trust that the world will not ‘come to an end’ if you aren’t always on watch.
  • Have patience and understand that not everyone sees things the same way as you.
  • Allow others as well as yourself to make mistakes without becoming overly annoyed or irritated.
  • Get in touch with your emotions and understand they are a vital and valid part of you rather than something that must be ignored and contained.
  • Step back and try to understand that your repressed and self-righteous anger toward others not doing the ‘right thing’ as prescribed by you damages your relationships. It also proves harmful to your own physical and emotional wellbeing.

A great read for Perfectionists is the book by Elizabeth Lombardo, "Better Than Perfect: 7 Strategies to Crush Your Inner Critic and Create a Life You Love."