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Advice / Succeeding at Work / Getting Ahead

5 Alleged Positive Qualities That Are Actually Working Against You (Sorry!)

What’s that old saying? Everything in moderation?

Yes, I know, typically people share that adage when talking about a healthy diet. You can have a donut once in a while—just not every morning (unless you’re totally OK with your waistband getting tighter with each passing day).

But, while this age-old sentiment undoubtedly applies to the food pyramid, I think it rings true somewhere else as well: With your behaviors.

Think about it: There are tons of different traits and qualities that are—for the most part—extremely positive. But, take them a little too far? Well, suddenly you’ve crossed over into completely obnoxious (or perhaps even counterproductive) territory. Apparently there really is such thing as too much of a good thing.

“Wait, what sorts of characteristics are you talking about?” you’re likely thinking to yourself now. I’ve got you covered! Here are five different qualities that are great to have—as long as you don’t subscribe to the “donut per day” philosophy. Remember, moderation is key.

1. Being a Perfectionist

This one’s the obvious one—you had to know that it was going to appear on the list somewhere. So, we might as well get it out of the way first, right?

As a perfectionist myself, I’ll admit there are plenty of times that an unrelenting obsession with the details is an excellent quality. You’re always the one willing to put in that extra work to make sure everything is perfect—you’re never willing to settle for just plain “good enough.”

But, as I’ve talked about at great length before, your perfectionist tendencies can often betray you. The working world can be fast-paced, and you don’t always have endless hours to obsess over whether or not to use Times New Roman or Helvetica in that report.

And—even worse—sometimes your constant quest for flawlessness can really just hold you back from trying new things. The threat of possible failure or embarrassment is too much for you to bear.

So, yes, I applaud you for being that details person who never settles. But, remember, life will never actually be perfect—sometimes “good enough” is the best you’re going to get.

2. Being a Go-Getter

For all intents and purposes, this is a desirable adjective. Every employer wants to hire someone who’s self-driven. Someone who’s willing to grab the bull by the horns and get things done.

However, there’s a line here too. You don’t want to become so much of a go-getter that you end up transforming into a complete steamroller.

What do I mean? Well, perhaps you and your team were just assigned a project to collaborate on together. You immediately accept the fact that you’ll need to be the one to shoulder all of the work (you’ve always operated with the assumption that everyone else is lazy and always looking to shirk responsibility anyway), and you just jump right in and take charge of the entire project.

You never gave your team—which, in reality, is likely filled with intelligent, capable people who are more than willing to help—the benefit of the doubt. Even further, you’ve totally monopolized what should be a group effort and proceed to think of yourself as a hero while doing so.

Sound familiar? Listen, I totally get it. In fact, I’ve been this person more often than I’d care too admit. Being a go-getter is admirable. But, remember to check yourself from time to time—or you’ll run the risk of turning a lot of people off.

3. Being a Team Player

Let’s look at the flipside of that coin, shall we? If you don’t want to be a complete control freak, then you’ll likely swing toward the other side of the spectrum to transform into more of a team player.

But, spoiler alert: There’s a delicate balance to maintain here, too.

Have you ever worked with those people that are so agreeable and malleable, they don’t seem to have one single opinion of their own? They’re so hesitant to rock the boat, they never do anything that could cause even the slightest ripple in the pond.

Many times, that collaborative and team-centric approach is appreciated and even helpful. However, always remember that you’re still entitled to an opinion and a contribution—and you can still be an excellent team player while doing so. You absolutely don’t need to go along with everything without ever speaking your mind.

So, don’t let your desire to avoid conflict completely override all of your valuable thoughts and ideas. You have awesome suggestions to share—and, if you truly want to do the best for your team, you owe it to them to speak up!

4. Being Social

If you’re that person in your office who’s always up for a friendly chat, chances are you’re pretty well-liked by your co-workers. You’re the resident social butterfly, and everyone can always count on you to strike up a conversation—about anything, really.

Having an outgoing personality is a great characteristic to have! There’s only one problem: You can easily become so chatty, that you’re rarely ever getting any of your real work accomplished.

The occasional banter around the coffee pot is one thing—in fact, it’s even encouraged to build better relationships with your colleagues. But, if keeping tabs on everything from Susan’s marathon training to Jim’s recent Disney vacation is majorly impairing your focus and detracting from your work, it’s time to rein things in a little bit.

5. Being Focused

With all of that being said, that’s another one of those traits where you don’t want to head too far in the opposite direction.

Yes, you need to be focused in the office—you’re there to get work done, obviously. However, there’s also a lot to be said for building some rapport with your colleagues. Strong working relationships are necessary in order to get your very best work accomplished.

So, if you’re always completely zoned in on your computer screen with earbuds always in, you could only be isolating yourself from your co-workers. And, seeming like that person who’d rather eat lunch in a bathroom stall than have to engage with any of her team members? Well, I don’t think it’s the message you’re aiming to send—at least, I certainly hope not.

As it turns out, that famous “everything in moderation” advice doesn’t just apply to your diet—it’s also a beneficial sentiment for numerous personality qualities as well. Avoid going overboard on these five traits, and you’re sure to strike the perfect balance.

Are there any other positive qualities that you think can quickly turn into negatives? Let me know on Twitter!

Photo of person working hard courtesy of Hero Images/Getty Images.