Impeccability vs. Perfection: Who’s Got Your Back?

At first glance, the difference between Impeccability and Perfection is slight.

Taking a closer look, they are very different characters, each with a profoundly different impact when it comes to building trust. Here’s the punch line, delivered by a recovering perfectionist:

Impeccability is your friend; Perfection is not.

A Character Study: Perfection vs. Impeccability

Let’s envision Perfection and Impeccability as two characters in a play.

In physical appearance, both are well-dressed. Perfection’s shirt is buttoned to the top; Impeccability’s open collar reveals a crisp, white T-shirt underneath. Perfection sits with his back rigidly straight; Impeccability assumes a relaxed yet confident stance. Perfection drums his fingers nervously on the table-top; Impeccability sits quietly.

As to their personalities: Where Perfection is determined with gritted teeth to always get it right, Impeccability is determined to be thorough and complete. Where Perfection endeavors to never make a mess, and experiences distress when the inevitable occurs, Impeccability recognizes that all humans make mistakes and chooses to see the inevitable as an opportunity to build trust. (see previous post: Why Mistakes Build Trust).

Perfection is controlling, stressed, and perpetually uptight; Impeccability is focused, at ease, his sense of perspective and humor intact at all times.

Perfection is often accompanied by Impatience, Judgment, and Frustration; Impeccability hangs out with Compassion, Confidence, and Self-Acceptance.

Impeccability vs. Perfection: One Level Deeper

Both Perfection and Impeccability are well-intended characters—striving to be the best they can be. Yet dig a little deeper and we see a key difference between the two: what’s driving them.

Perfection constantly feeds a need to satisfy something internal and self-oriented. Impeccability, on the other hand, is other-oriented at the core; his motivation is the satisfaction that comes with being of service and making a difference.

Even Perfection agrees that Impeccability is much more pleasant to be around. Impeccability is much easier to relate to. He endeavors to do his best and humbly accepts that he will fail at times. He cleans up his messes with transparency, swiftness, and an appropriate amount of lightheartedness. In doing so, he leaves room for others to be human.

Put yourself in your clients’ shoes. With whom would you rather spend your time?

5 replies
  1. John
    John says:

    Andrea thanks for your post and insight into the differences between impeccability and perfection, they are markedly different. For myself I know that when I am confident in the fact that "I know that I know what I know," about my subject, company, negotiation (fill in the blank) the easier it is to respond from impeccability. The more insecure I am the more I strive for perfection. I have observed this in ohters as well.

    Thanks for the post and Take Good Care,



  2. Andrea Howe
    Andrea Howe says:

    I appreciate the acknowledgment, Keith. And John, your point about insecurity is well-taken–a great example of high Self-Orientation (‘S’ — the denominator in the Trust Equation), which is usually driven by fear.

    Thanks for indulging my slightly out-of-the-box blog post and helping me keep my own ‘S’ low.


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