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Don't be Afraid to Admit Your Weaknesses

ashleemboyer profile image Ashlee (she/her) Updated on ・2 min read

Do you know what it means when you can admit your weaknesses? It means you've probably recognized the following:

  1. You are less afraid to be wrong
  2. You aren't perfect
  3. You have things to work on
  4. You are working on the things

Other people figure these things about you when you openly admit your weaknesses. On Mother's Day, I was having dinner with my mom and grandma and we were talking about air fryers and cooking. My grandma is an exceptional cook so it's a common topic of discussion.

I haven't cooked in nearly 3 months because of my long commute, so they asked what I've been eating. I said something along the lines of, "Mostly microwave dinners, but I have a problem with impulsively buying fast-food during my drives." To that, my mom said, "You're openly admitting that???" And then my grandma swooped in with, "No, it's good she can admit it!"

I get that they are my family and the dynamic is different than that of one in the professional workplace, so I'll give you another example if you're still feeling skeptical.

A few years ago, I attended a weekend-long leadership workshop at my school. At one of the follow-up dinners, we went around the room and named something we wanted to spend 30 days improving. I named "road rage" because that's something I can be pretty bad about. The speaker was very surprised and we all laughed about it because it was relieving to hear such an honest answer.

People appreciate honesty and vulnerability. Good people will thank you for being open. It's how we relate.


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Image by Limor Zellermayer on Unsplash.

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ashleemboyer profile

Ashlee (she/her)

@ashleemboyer

Disabled Web Developer ⌨️ | HOH 🤟 | Live Knitter 🧶 & Live Coder 👩‍💻 | she/her

Discussion

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One of the things that just really drives me insane is when someone who I'm interviewing says their weakness is that they're "a perfectionist." Pssshhhh... that is one answer that immediately makes me pass on someone.

 

Out of curiosity, why is that?

 

It's sort of intellectually dishonest - people say it when they want to admit "a flaw" but still say that they're awesome. It's like interviewing for a job as a personal trainer and saying that your flaw is that you're too athletic and people won't be able to keep up.

I think it's effectively a cop out, and something that people specifically say when they want to avoid saying they actually have a weakness. If I'm interviewing someone, I'm looking to see primarily if I can trust them and if they have the capacity and desire to learn. I think saying one's weakness is being too much a perfectionist violates that first part.

Thank you for explaining your take! I think it can be a cop-out, but not everyone uses it that way. Some people, like myself, genuinely want to express the fact that sometimes we get caught up on smaller, unimportant details. Have any thoughts on better ways to get that across? Nothing comes to mind for me right this second.

Absolutely! I think a better way of saying it is that you have a tendency to focus on minutia, or have a hard time seeing the forest for the trees, or something to that effect. I've had to explain that a few times, and I think it's typically more acceptable to say something that isn't as broad a stroke as "being a perfectionist." True as it may be, after you've interviewed enough people, you get to a point where you've heard that specific phrase a lot. It typically comes from people who are earlier in their careers, and who are more concerned that admitting a weakness will cost them the job. It almost always doesn't.

Really! Any weaknesses you've heard that absolutely turn you off to the candidate?

Typically, if someone says they have a hard time grasping new technologies or something, that's tough to work around. Our world changes rapidly, and not having that capacity really hurts.

 

Honesty and humility are both underrated and hard to find traits.