What if you were making efforts to look good on your campus but your efforts were working against you? It happens more often than you might think.
There are three main reasons for this: (1) qualities in excess tend to create problems, (2) concerns about other people’s opinions can lead you in the wrong direction, and (3) adapting your behavior to influence people’s perception of you makes you look dishonest.
Here are some common examples of how making efforts can be counterproductive.
1. Trying to have all the answers
Achievers like you often have compassion for others but not for themselves. They have extremely high standards and think they should know everything that is remotely related to their areas of responsibility.
They take pride in being the person who has answers for everything and don’t realize how it hurts their professional relationships. A know-it-all can unintentionally monopolize attention, discourage initiative, and intimidate coworkers.
So don’t try to know everything. Nobody will judge you for being human. In fact, it is acting not human that will create separation between you and your peers. Being relatable and collaborative is a better approach to being valued.
2. Seeking perfection
Seeking perfection is not proof of dedication and high standards. Being a perfectionist makes someone look bad because they appear hyper-critical, rarely satisfied, often rigid and unreasonable, and therefore, hard to work with.
Perfectionists are so focused on what is wrong that they don’t stop to acknowledge what is right. At the core, they are driven by the fear of making a mistake and their level of intensity makes others uncomfortable.
They create unnecessary struggles and the more they try to look perfect, the more they repel the people they want to impress. So choose high standards but let go of your attachment to perfection.
3. Wanting to be liked
When people attach too much importance to being liked, they make decisions based on other people’s preferences rather than staying true to themselves or doing what they know is right. Instead of having their own compass, they constantly chase a moving target they can never reach.
Their need for approval will inevitably get in the way of their work performance. For example, they will be paralyzed when it is time to make an unpopular decision. They may also appear to change their mind frequently, which makes them hard to trust.
Wanting to be liked makes people look like they desperately need approval because they lack self-confidence and are full of self-doubt. They may be good at creating superficial friendships based on pleasing others but they won’t command respect or be chosen for leadership roles.
4. Trying too hard to help others
While making time to help coworkers is a wonderful thing, when the help is unwelcome, the well-intentioned helper looks like a critical and judgmental adversary. If you look at your peers’ work and identify things they could improve, don’t expect them to thank you for pointing out their shortcomings.
Not everyone is as focused on improvement as you are. Some people struggle to make it through the day and experience tremendous stress and pressure. From their perspective, they may have no energy or time available to do more. Don’t make them feel more overwhelmed than they already are.
Only offer your help if you can do it in a non-judgmental way, after someone shared with you what problem they want to solve. Don’t give unsolicited advice. I explain why in this article: Why Giving Advice Hurts Your Ability to Influence People on Campus – And What to Do Instead
5. Trying to look good
No matter what form it takes, there is something inherently misguided in trying to look what you are not. Any unnatural effort will hurt your credibility and trustworthiness. Please stop trying to look good and instead, choose to be your best self and let others see who you really are.
Stop reading articles about how you should act. Stop trying to copy what others are doing. Just stop. Quiet your mind and increase your self-awareness. There are wonderful things about you that the world wants to see.
Practice self-appreciation to uncover your own gems, and when you notice something you would like to improve, make it a goal and engage in personal development. Who you are today is more than good enough for today. You can relax. Take a deep breath.
Progress and expansion make life richer so yes, by all means, have goals and desires to become a better person but that starts by liking who you are today and giving yourself your own approval.
When you stop trying so hard and you feel grounded, serene, and confident, that is when you will look your best – because you’ll be your best.
If you tend to try too hard, or be too hard on yourself, I hope this article convinced you that your approach will not give you the results you seek. Can you open your mind to a different way of becoming increasingly more valuable at work and being happier? I invite you to schedule a time to chat with me about your desire to transform how you approach your work and what you can do to get better results with less effort.
Whether you want to feel more appreciated by your supervisor, have better relationships with your coworkers, advance your career, or simply feel more at peace, now is the time for change. It is hard to do alone but easy to do with a coach you trust. Let’s talk and discover if I can be this person for you.
About the author: Dr. Audrey Reille has empowered thousands of professionals through one-on-one coaching, group coaching, speaking engagements, online courses, and interviews on international telesummits. Audrey is the go-to coach for leaders in higher education administration. She empowers them to thrive by reducing stress, optimizing strategies, improving professional relationships, and developing a strong and empowered mindset.