All humans are imperfect. Our weaknesses tend to show up during times of adversity or conflict or even when we interact with others.
Sure, this is all stating the obvious. But my point is, it helps to know what our weaknesses are so we can make improvements to ourselves and become better humans. As a bonus, we can make improvements to our professional lives, too.
There are ways we can determine what our weaknesses are. For starters, we can use a quick personal SWOT analysis model to analyze weaknesses. An example of such a model is shown below.
So, for instance, if you’re a writer who lacks design skills, possible threats could be that you miss out on other people who can write and create their own graphics at the same time. There are opportunities, too, however. For instance, the design industry is largely democratized, which means anyone who wants to learn design can do so.
Based on your SWOT analysis, you can then come up with your plan of action. For instance, you can enroll in a design course.
Being self-aware of our personal weaknesses can also help. Let’s say you want to apply for the role of SaaS consultant. If you’re aware you lack SEO skills, you’ll enroll in an SEO course or ask your SEO specialist friend to teach you.
But the lack of skills aren’t the only weaknesses we should be aware of. It might be our own personalities and traits that are holding us back, too.
All that said, here are the top 20 weaknesses we should know:
Being self-critical isn’t the same thing as being self-aware. Self-criticism refers to repeated negative evaluations of oneself. This often results in feelings of worthlessness and deprecation whenever a failure is encountered or when results don’t turn out as one hoped.
Self-criticism almost tends toward being a mental health issue. Psychologists and counselors often associate self-criticism with past failures and life events, such as being bullied, having overly controlling parents, or even peer pressure.
Being overly self-critical can lead to feelings of depression, and it could also hamper our relationships with colleagues in the workplace.
People who self-criticize to a point where it hampers their emotional or professional progress should seek help from a therapist or counselor.
2. Inability to delegate
A capable employee should be able to handle tasks given to them and delegate appropriately whenever necessary.
There are several reasons why one may be unable to delegate properly:
- They don’t trust in the ability of others to deliver.
- They have poor planning skills, meaning they can’t effectively apportion tasks to the right people at the right time.
- Reputation risk: Some managers may feel that delegating tasks may be taken as a sign of weakness and not knowing how to do their job.
Bear in mind that task delegation is a sign of strength. This means that people who delegate are comfortable in their own skin and have no problems trusting other people who are deserving of that trust.
3. Critical of others
People who are overly critical tend to project their insecurities onto others. So if they see someone beautiful, they assume that person is shallow and vain. Or, if they see someone who’s too efficient at their job, they assume that person has no life or is a robot. In turn, this reaffirms negative perceptions that overly critical people have about themselves.
While positive criticism is healthy and even necessary for self-improvement and progress, a clear line should be drawn. Criticizing others too much will lead to lost friends, not to mention making the workplace unbearable for everyone.
Shortsightedness here doesn’t refer to myopia or the lack of visual perception of far objects. Instead, it refers to the inability of a person, particularly managers and business leaders, to see the far-reaching effects and consequences of their actions.
Each decision that is made within an organization could potentially have great ramifications. The ability to “see” into the future and anticipate the effects of both big and small decisions is part of a successful business development strategy.
As an example of shortsightedness, let’s take the BP Deepwater Horizon oil spill of 2010 in the Gulf of Mexico. Initially, the CEO denied claims about the massive impact of the spill. Only months later when the true extent of the disaster was realized did the CEO own up to BP’s failures.
The resulting PR catastrophe for BP could have been avoided if the CEO had owned up to the mistake on time and reassured the public.
5. Inability to multitask
Multitasking refers to the ability to successfully juggle different tasks at the same time and deliver great results.
While experts generally recommend working on one task at a time to avoid fatigue and being overwhelmed, an ability to multitask shows that one can handle pressure. On the other hand, an inability to multitask may show a potential or new employer that one has poor time management skills.
One can train themselves to multitask by mixing up what they do in a day. It helps if they follow a to-do list so they can keep themselves organized.
6. Lack of patience
Workplaces cannot function effectively if employees and team members lack patience. Not only does it make everyone feel more at ease. Patience also promotes an environment where problems can easily be solved.
Patience is a skill that anyone can learn. They can practice mindfulness and meditation and set realistic expectations for themselves and others.
7. Low confidence levels
If one doesn’t feel good about themselves or lacks confidence in their abilities, they’re less likely to contribute to team efforts or take on tasks outside the normal. This may hamper their progress and professional development as they’ll always end up being overlooked.
One way to improve confidence is to brush up on communication skills. We’ll talk more about this later.
It also helps to be self-aware. People who start having negative thoughts about themselves should immediately focus on their positives instead. For instance, if they get thoughts like “I’ll fail this Math exam,” they should focus instead on how they’ve always been good at Math.
Perfectionism often emanates from a fear of failure. In the short term, perfectionism can lead to outstanding results. However, the long-term cost of this is that more time is usually spent on tasks. Further, it can lead to employee burnout and fatigue.
On a deeper note, maladaptive perfectionism coupled with failure can often lead to anxiety, stress, and feelings of worthlessness and inadequacy. This may eventually lead to depression. The best way for a person to overcome perfectionism is to just be confident in their abilities. After reading a report thoroughly two times, they can just submit it and wait for feedback.
9. Overly sensitive
Being overly sensitive can be a sign of low mental toughness. Mental resilience is one of the most sought-after leadership skills in most organizations, particularly high-pressure ones. In such high-level positions, an overly sensitive person may end up quitting too early or they may even create a toxic working environment.
To address oversensitivity, it helps to self-evaluate. When someone gets criticized, they should stop and think whether the criticism has some truth to it. If it has some truth to it, they should make the necessary adjustments.
10. Inability to ask for help
The inability to ask for help can come from feelings of insecurity about not wanting to come across as weak or having vulnerabilities. However, the truth is that asking for help is a sign of strength and can even help foster good teamwork skills.
For example, an expert at copywriting who has run out of ideas on how to create engaging branded content can consult with other digital marketing professionals. This will allow them to generate new ideas faster, and may even help improve their writing technique.
Procrastination may stem from mental weakness where one feels inadequate to deliver on a specific task. For others, it simply is a case of poor time management and not knowing how to plan effectively.
The best way to deal with procrastination is to break a project into more manageable bits. For example, if someone needs to submit a 10-page report in seven days, they should resolve to finish one page every day.
The image below shares how people should think of tasks to beat procrastination.
Time-management apps can also help notify users about what tasks to start and complete.
12. Inability to express oneself
Good communication skills are necessary to be clearly understood and make an impact. Poor communication skills could emanate from the following:
- One’s background; negative childhood experiences, such as bullying; and toxic families
- Having a limited viewpoint
- Struggling with the language of communication
- A lack of interaction with others
Anyone can take steps to improve presentation skills. They can speak in private, let’s say, in front of a mirror or with a friend. If they’re a non-native speaker, they can take extra language courses, too.
It helps to be well-groomed, too. This will help improve the ability to make eye contact with the audience. Finally, body language is key to making presentations less awkward and boring.
Effective delegation means avoidance of micromanagement. Managers should trust their juniors’ abilities to effectively carry out the given tasks.
The following traits best describe a micromanager:
- They rarely delegate and if they do, they usually do not let their juniors work independently.
- They never let anyone else make decisions.
- They are extremely picky about details, even those that don’t matter.
- They are usually very confrontational if juniors voice a different opinion.
This Dilbert-like cartoon gives a humorous but realistic touch of what working under a micromanager feels like.
A micromanager hovers like an owl perched on an employee’s shoulders all day long.
A micromanager should live a little and trust their juniors with the duties they assign. They can just check in once in a while.
14. Inability to handle pressure
A common weakness that any employer would like to avoid is the employee’s inability to handle pressure.
Workplaces are a flood of emotions resulting from myriad reasons. Bad breaks, critical deadlines, demanding clients, unexpected events, such as resignations, and increased workloads are just some of the few challenges to be expected.
People don’t respond to pressure in the same way; some may panic and suddenly become ineffective, while others take the lead and thrive. People should always strive to be in this second group.
If, for example, a person can’t handle an extra assigned workload, it is always better to let their manager know in advance so that some duties may be reassigned.
15. Overly focused on irrelevant details
Being detail-oriented is important as it ensures that all bases are covered. It can even be a critical part of some roles.
However, dwelling on irrelevant details, for instance, the font in a PR plan (even if the font being used is already readable) is just a waste of time. If the report addresses the main points it needs to address and it can be easily read, it should be submitted. This can help everyone move on to other more important things.
People who are unorganized have the tendency to forget things they’re supposed to do. Being better organized will allow them to feel more productive, less fatigued, and even happier.
Here are tips to stay organized:
- Create monthly, weekly, and daily goals based on your assigned role and tasks.
- Break each task further down into smaller sub-tasks and log these into a productivity calendar or scheduling app.
- Ask a friend or colleague to keep you accountable.
- Create a clutter-free workspace.
Check out more tips for staying organized in the next image.
Adopting better wellness habits, for example, going to bed early and waking up early, also helps.
17. Getting easily bored
A lot of talented people get bored easily, especially if they’re stuck with the same set routine. In most job roles, the initial excitement quickly fizzles out, leading to perpetual boredom.
For talented folks, the solution for this is to get them into their ideal workflows, provided results are satisfactory and deadlines are met. While other people, the solution is to simply introduce a bit of fun and relaxation into the workday routine to avoid work being more of a chore.
For both groups, a new experience, such as working from some fancy coworking space, which can be easily booked via coworking software, can become a real creativity booster that will chase away boredom.
18. Long-term planning
A major weakness of any person seeking long-term success may be the inability to plan. This means that people should be able to set current and future goals in alignment.
Let’s take an example. Let’s assume Bob is aiming for a promotion or a senior position at their company, say a Forex trading expert position. There are certain tech and managerial skills that are required for this role that he currently lacks.
A short-term strategy would be to stay comfortable in his current role and hope to get noticed. A longer-term strategy would be to enroll in a skills course or request to shadow someone with more experience in the role.
19. No work-life balance
A common weakness that most people have in high-pressure jobs is a lack of work-life balance. This could be due to excessive workload, long commutes, and demanding bosses.
A poor work-life balance will lead to fatigue and a diminished quality of life.
The key to addressing this is to be conscious of it. Frequent mistakes and fatigue at work may mean it’s time to take a well-deserved vacation.
No one will admit that they’re selfish. However, there are tell-tale signs one has this trait. For example, a selfish person is one who usually hates sharing information and views all coworkers as competition. Ultimately, selfish person only thinks about themselves and doesn’t consider other people in every decision they make. If an action will benefit them but will negatively affect others, they’d still push through with it.
The solution to selfishness? Self-awareness. This should also include a strong desire and willingness to change for the better.
We’ve highlighted 20 key weaknesses anyone can brush up on. As a recap, we’ve covered weaknesses such as procrastination, being disorganized, micromanagement, selfishness, and a lack of work-life balance, just to name a few.
We have also provided suggestions about how to deal with such weaknesses to better oneself. For example, perfectionism may stem from a fear of failure, which can lead to anxiety, stress, and even depression. Talking to a therapist is advised in such cases.
Anyone who applies these suggestions can live a more wholesome life, be more productive, and achieve their personal and professional goals with little burnout.