Attachment Styles At Work

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Lately, attachment styles have been on my mind, largely because my friend group has been working on the way we function in our interpersonal relationships. Understanding your own attachment style is key to learning how to be a better friend/partner/relative/etc., and who among us doesn’t want to be a better partner or friend?

I’ve noticed, however, that most of the research and conversation surrounding attachment styles focuses on either our romantic relationships or how they’ve come to be because of childhood relationships with our parents. 

Missing from this narrative is work.  Work consumes so much of our lives; it would be unfair not to acknowledge how our attachment styles are reflected in our coworker relationships and the way we function in the workplace.

Let’s dive into what your attachment style may look like at work!

Anxious Attachment Style

The behaviors of someone with an anxious attachment style usually stem from self-doubt, insecurity, worry and low self-esteem. This means that they are in need of reassurance and approval more than others. They are more likely to avoid confrontation and go with the flow of the group

This attachment style can look like:

  • Asking a lot of questions; needing a clear understanding of everything to avoid mistakes, (which can result in criticism or a negative evaluation. Anxious people DO NOT like that.) and maybe even people-pleasing the boss
  • Being preoccupied with their desire to have closeness with colleagues and their boss
  • Having less ability to work autonomously
  • Having a higher risk of burnout episodes
  • Feeling under-appreciated

However, there are some pros of having this attachment style. Anxiously attached people are excellent at detecting risks. They have a high sense of self-awareness and can spot their own shortcomings. They are constantly seeking ways to strengthen their weak spots and skills. Also, being non-confrontational can be a good thing! Anxious people create less friction in the workplace.

Some advice: Practicing affirmations can be really helpful for you. You already use your superpower of improving yourself for your work ethic, use it a little more on your inner self. Spot those negative thoughts and reaffirm yourself! Having a supportive person or network is also very helpful.

Avoidant Attachment Style

Those with an avoidant attachment style tend to be less social at work. They do not seek closeness or trust that they can rely on the support of others. Avoidant people are highly characterized as being very independent. These people do not care for group projects because it doesn’t align with their distrust toward others and their belief that they are “above” criticism and mutual leadership. They like to work autonomously.

This attachment style looks like:

  • Rarely asking questions; they can figure it out on their own
  • Critical of their bosses/leaders
  • Not having the most positive and open disposition
  • Being less likely to open up. They don’t share as much about their personal lives with coworkers because they avoid interpersonal closeness. They also do not address issues they’re having because they don’t seek support.
  • Resisting leadership and conformity and thus, to some extent, being the work “troublemakers”

Of course, there are some good things about being an avoidant worker. Avoidant people can efficiently work autonomously and don’t need extensive supervision or “babysitting”. They are highly productive and get the job done because they follow a personally customized working style that works best for them– likely different from the one they were instructed to have. They can also quickly detect threats and their confidence in themselves works like manifestation– they believe they’re smart and skilled, therefore they are.

Some advice: (It’s a little difficult to advise you because I AM you) You care about your tasks and you are result-oriented, so remind yourself that sometimes the more hands on deck and input you receive can be great for the quality of work. Remind yourself that there is a lot you can learn from the people around you. Also, open up a little– you’d be surprised what can come from light conversations with the people you spend so much time around.

Secure Attachment Style

If you have a secure attachment style… what’s it like living the rest of our dreams? You win at life. 

Securely attached people easily form healthy relationships with people at work. They’re least likely to find it difficult to complete tasks, and they don’t fear criticism and failure as much. They’re the most equipped to be a good leader because they communicate well, are perceived as valuable by colleagues and bosses, and generally have a sense of comfort at work.

This attachment style looks like:

  • Being able to form strong bonds
  • Showing trust toward their leaders
  • Feeling highly satisfied with their job and conditions
  • Ability to take criticism well
  • Having fewer difficulties with their tasks
  • They’re even more likely to be healthy and experience fewer illnesses 

Some advice: Help the rest of us!

By: Akosua Asare, Communications Specialist at Sesh Coworking

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