Type One is called the Perfectionist or the Reformer because their attention automatically goes to what needs improvement and correction. They tend to see things in black and white, either perfect or imperfect, with very little gray in between. Type Ones feel pressure to be correct and to get things right. They have a tendency to analyze, and sometimes overanalyze things. Type Ones have high standards and often find themselves in charge of projects or initiatives because they have a sense that “it will only be done right if I do it.” They feel a great deal of personal responsibility for things they are involved in. Critical of others, they are even more critical of themselves.
Type One Gifts to the World
Type Ones offer the world improvement either through increased efficiency, structure, planning and organization or in some instances, through moral heroism and radical social change. As their attention naturally goes to what can be improved, this action-oriented type moves to implement the improvements their minds naturally notice.
Type Ones Typically Report
1) A Desire to Get It Right
Type Ones report a desire to be perfect and to have a clear structure in which they can achieve perfection. This type often reports they can’t really enjoy something if they can’t do it well. They seek a model to follow that clearly outlines the parameters to meet perfection.
“A friend invited us to dinner and asked us to arrive between 8:00 and 8:30. I almost didn’t know how to interpret that. Internally I decided would arrive at 8:15. A range of time wasn’t going to work for me at all.”
2) Extensive Social Contracts
A social contract refers to the idea that we all have unspoken social rules we understand and follow. For example, we inherently understand we don’t throw trash on our neighbor’s front lawn. We don’t need to say it out loud—we all just understand it. Type Ones tend to have many more of these unspoken social contracts than the other types. As a classic example, Type Ones can become extremely irritated by people who park outside of the lines in a parking lot. They work hard to live up to high ideals, and they expect others to do the same.
“I’ve almost ended friendships over punctuality. It enraged me that one friend was constantly late. Then he finally let me know he didn’t expect me to be on time for him, and suddenly, my anger vanished. But I almost ended the friendship before that point.”
3) They Become Exhausted by Their Own Thoughts and Efficiency
Most Type Ones report that it is exhausting to have the mind constantly correcting whatever they see and experience. Some report walking down the street can be irritating because they notice all the details that could be improved. Type Ones also sometimes report becoming exhausted by their own efficiency. Because they are natural and effective organizers, others often look to and lean on Type Ones to get things done. This responsibility can sometimes become disproportionate and draining.
“Sometimes I decide just to stay in the house all day because I know I’m going to get too irritated if I go out. I’ll see all the things in the neighborhood that need correcting, and it annoys me so much I’d rather just stay home…”
Tools for Compassion If You Have Type Ones in Your Life
1) Recognize they may be critical of you, but they are even harder on themselves
Type Ones can be critical, it is true, but they are even more critical of themselves. Most Type Ones report extreme self-criticism (often 10 on a scale of 1-10), and they criticize themselves “about everything–what I said, what I didn’t say, what I ate for breakfast, what I did over the weekend.” Keep this in mind the next time your Type One directs criticism your way.
2) Recognize that their constant correction isn’t personal—it is just the way their mind works
Type Ones naturally see what needs correction—this is just what their minds do. As an action-oriented type, they also often proactively implement the changes they want. At a minimum, they might want to share with you what they notice. While it can feel personal, it isn’t. Even when it is directed at you, it is just where their attention naturally goes. They can change their behavior and reaction to it, but this is the Type One experience and where the attention naturally gravitates.
3) Help them lighten up, laugh, have fun and slow down
Type Ones often feel the weight of the world on their shoulders. They can be efficiency machines, always thinking of the next thing that needs to be done and planning how to do it well. It can be very challenging for them to allow themselves time to relax and time for fun. Helping them laugh, lighten up, play and enjoy life is very healing for Type Ones.
To learn more about Type One Perfectionists and what they are like in relationships, go to page 33.