There are noteworthy differences between being responsible and being obsessive-compulsive. Here are some main trait and behavior differences between the two in nine critical work areas:
• Effort: Responsible workers are enthusiastic about their jobs—they work energetically and are capable of concentrated, high-powered effort. They thrive on their work. Obsessive-compulsive workers allow perfectionism to interfere with task achievement and are unable to complete a project on time. They are edgy, overwrought, apprehensive and overwhelmed by the amount of work they have to do.
• Authenticity: Responsible workers demonstrate strong ethical principles and values. They want to do the right thing. Obsessive-compulsive workers are preoccupied with policies, lists, organization or timetables to the extent that the major point of the activity is in limbo.
• Facility: Responsible workers must do everything right— everything! Obsessive-compulsive workers insist that everyone acquiesce to precisely their way of doing things, or they are disinclined to allow others to do things.
• Persistence: Responsible workers accomplish all tasks and projects to the very last detail, without omissions. Obsessive-compulsive workers are exceedingly fixated on work and productivity to the abolition of leisure activities and friendships.
• Attentiveness: Responsible workers take seriously all phases of any project. No detail is too small to scrutinize. Obsessive-compulsive workers are vacillating. They shun, defer or drag out decisions.
• Orderliness: Responsible workers like the appearance of orderliness and compactness. They are good arrangers and list makers who appreciate schedules and routines. Obsessive-compulsive workers are meticulous, scrupulous and inflexible.
• Common sense: Responsible workers have a practical, plain-speaking point of view. They get to work without much emotional expenditure. Obsessive-compulsive types are inhibited in expressing affection.
• Discretion: Responsible workers do not give in to thoughtlessness or overindulgence. They are prudent, vigilant and judicious. Obsessive-compulsive workers lack goodwill in giving their time, money or assistance when no personal advantage is anticipated.
• Accrual: Responsible workers are magpies. They hoard and stockpile things in tidy arrangements and reluctantly jettison anything that has, previously had, or sooner or later may have value for them. Obsessive-compulsive workers are unable to discard worn-out or worthless objects even when they have no sentimental value.
In the end, the difference between these two types of personalities is one of degree and consequence. Individuals who are so inexplicably and puzzlingly responsible that they can no longer adapt to the demands of reality are the classic obsessive-compulsives.