I’m a go-getter. No, this isn’t me trying to brag and gloat, stroke my own ego, and pump myself full of compliments—it’s just a fact.
I’ve always been someone who likes to get things done. I don’t want to talk about them for ages without ever taking action. I don’t want to procrastinate or dilly dally. I just want to make sure I have what I need, form a plan, and start cranking things out.
In most cases, this is a positive quality. After all, everyone likes that person who’s always ready to put her nose to the grindstone and start crossing things off that to-do list, right?
Well, sometimes yes. But, other times? Well, I’ve discovered that I don’t quite come off as the competent, self-assured, and helpful colleague I was envisioning in my racing mind. All too often, people can easily perceive my self-driven attitude as pushy, overbearing, condescending, and even a little obnoxious.
Listen, that’s not my intention—in fact, it’s a stark contrast to the sort of reputation I’d like to foster for myself. But, that doesn’t mean I can flip a switch and turn off that entire aspect of my personality and approach to work.
Much like introverts can’t help being a little more reserved and the office gossip finds it physically impossible to keep her mouth shut about your colleague’s ugly new cardigan, resisting the urge to swoop in, grab the reins, and spearhead every single assignment that comes my way seems like an impossible feat in human strength.
Consider this your friendly PSA: You’re probably never going to be able to change that resident go-getter in your workplace. But, you can better understand him. So, here are five things that hard-working co-worker of yours wants you to know—but would never actually admit to.
1. We Don’t Think You’re Incompetent
In most cases, when I’ve had to work as part of a team, I’ve always reacted the same way: I take charge. I begin splitting up the tasks, passing them out to my colleagues, and generally leading the entire initiative without a second thought. No, nobody actually asked me to do that—it’s just what I’ve always done.
I feel like I need to make one thing explicitly clear for all of my fellow go-getters out there: I’m not doing this because I think you’re lazy, useless, or totally incapable. Of course, I know it might feel that way—after all, why else would I feel the need to act like a chaperone organizing a school trip for a bunch of kindergartners?
But, please know that my urge to swoop in, lead the charge, and micromanage has way more to do with me than it does you. You’re not incompetent—I’m just obsessively organized and eager to get things rolling.
2. We Need Friendly Reminders
If reading that scenario above about someone bursting in like the Kool-Aid Man and doling out demands and assignments made you clench your fists and grit your teeth, I have news for you: Go-getters like me absolutely need people like you.
Why? Well, even though I’m usually moving a million miles per minute like the Tasmanian Devil of Productivity, I still get tired, overwhelmed, and straight up burnt out. I may move at warp speed at times, but that doesn’t mean I’m totally immune to ever feeling plain ol’ exhausted.
And, that’s where people like you come into play. Sometimes I need you to tell me to go home and leave things until tomorrow. Sometimes I need you to offer to take something off my plate. Sometimes I need you to grab me by the shoulders, give me a firm shake, and say, “Hey, you! Stop. You’re acting like a crazy person.”
Like I said before, I don’t always want to be that person who flies off the handle obsessing over the timeline for that big project (in fact, I’d rather not)—and that’s exactly why I need friendly reminders from people just like you.
3. We Don’t Believe in Constructive Criticism
Alright, this one is going to make me sound pretty bad. So, I hope you’re ready to stick with me and hear me out.
To me, there’s really no such thing as constructive criticism. Yes, I’ve written numerous pieces about how to both better deliver and accept these sorts of comments. But, that doesn’t change the fact that every piece of feedback to me is all the same—it’s just criticism.
You could positively suggest a change to me with a marching band, a dramatic balloon drop, a giant cake, and Bette Midler singing “Wind Beneath My Wings” and I’d still only hear one thing: You think something needs to be tweaked and improved. The obsessive perfectionist in me is going to turn right around and get to work on trying to polish up that detail—no matter how miniscule or unimportant it might seem to you.
Is that always productive? Probably not. Is that a professional response to constructive criticism? I don’t think so. Do I recommend it? Definitely not. But, it’s how go-getters and perfectionists like me are going to react each and every time. You’ve been warned.
4. We Can Be Followers Too
We’ve already made it clear that when a project crops up, I’m probably going to be the first one to stand up and designate myself as the leader of the whole thing.
But, guess what? I’m also more than willing to be a follower. As a matter of fact, I’d enjoy it every now and then—particularly on those assignments where I don’t feel I have a lot of experience or expertise to bring to the table.
Like I mentioned before, I don’t think you’re incompetent or useless. So, if you feel the urge to step up and grab the reins out of my greedy little hands, I welcome you to it. Because, let’s face it—I could use a little help every now and then. And, following instead of leading can be the much-needed nudge I need to sit back and trust my teammates.
5. We’re Doing Our Best
That overachieving, pushy of colleague of yours probably really gets under your skin from time to time—and, trust me, I get that. But, I think it’s important for you to recognize that the self-driven people in your office really do have good intentions.
They aren’t trying to get all of the glory and recognition for themselves. They aren’t trying to make you look bad. And, they certainly aren’t trying to be malicious, demean you, or hurt your feelings.
In reality, that seemingly bossy person simply cares a lot about the work she puts her name on. She wants to ensure that the things your team churns out are top-notch, high quality projects that you’re all proud of.
So, in those moments when you want to stand up and lose your cool on that teammate who keeps bossing you around like a small child, remember that the intentions are pure. Yes, the delivery could use a little work. But, all of us relentless go-getters are trying to do our best for everyone—including you.
Are you the pushy overachiever in your office that can’t seem to sit still? What do you wish your co-workers knew about you? Let me know on Twitter!