Do perfectionists make better writers?

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in Workplace Communication

Paradoxically, being a perfectionist could get in the way of your ability to polish your business-writing skills.

One professor at Smith College, Randy O. Frost, has studied perfectionism for years.

He did an experiment in which he asked female college students to reword a section of text. Some of the students had been identified as perfectionists, some not. Two college professors graded the writing, blind to who had written what.

The perfectionists were judged to write more poorly than the others.

Why? Frost believes that perfectionists avoid writing tasks, procrastinate about them, and avoid having others review their work—all of which hinder improvement.

“Consequently,” he says, “they may not develop the same quality of writing skills as  nonperfectionists.”

Tip for perfectionists: Work on getting more feedback at an early point in a project to get a reality check.

— Adapted from “It’s Just Fine to Make Mistakes,” Alina Tugend, The New York Times.

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