Insecure Attachment in the Workplace
In today’s world, work is becoming more dynamic. Companies often join forces with external teams. Therefore, to make the most of the available resources, cooperation and relationship-building are essential. In fact, organizations today optimize competitive advantage. Their aim is to be more adaptive, like human beings.
To introduce the concept of attachment, we can use the metaphor of the loom. Imagine a loom and observe its color and shape. Now, visualize its threads: see how they intertwine to give rise to the patterns that the loom makes. Attachment refers to the way in which we intertwine the threads that link us to other people.
“Look within. Be still. Free from fear and attachment, know the sweet joy of the way.”
The concept of attachment was initially proposed by the prestigious psychologist, John Bowlby. He stated that we seek to establish ourselves in relationships that provide us with security and support in potentially stressful situations. In childhood, it’s parents who should establish safe harbors to which children can return when they’re exploring the environment and suddenly become alarmed.
Insecure attachment in adults is characterized by relationships that revolve around fear. These relationships also tend to be rocky due to many contradictions and turnarounds when it comes to decision-making. Indeed, anxiety is a constant in the lives of people with this attachment style.
There are three types of insecure attachment.
- People with an insecure attachment of the ambivalent type possess negative beliefs about others and positive beliefs about themselves. Even though their self-esteem seems fine, they’re wary of the outside. Consequently, they tend to avoid it.
- Insecure avoidant people are characterized by the existence of negative beliefs both from the outside and about themselves. They’re anxious about connecting with others, and their self-esteem is damaged and diminished.
- People with a disorganized attachment style exhibit a combination of the two previous styles. Disorientation is key. In fact, they experience great difficulty deciding what to do and with whom, and how they should feel. Confusion is a constant in their lives.
On the other hand, secure attachment characterizes people whose belief systems are positive, both in relation to others and themselves. They possess high self-esteem and seek help when they need it. Moreover, they have no difficulties in being independent and in developing intimacy in their relationships.
“Attachment in adulthood tends to manifest itself in the belief system that the individual has about himself and about others.”
Insecure attachment in the workplace: a source of discomfort
At present, the relationship between attachment styles and the workplace is being intensively researched. This is because human activity nourishes organizations. In effect, the interaction that occurs between people in a company is linked to the attachment styles of its workers.
Attachment in the workplace crosses borders. It ceases to be something that’s intrinsic to the individual and their environment and it spills over into workplace relations. When we interact with colleagues, we initially do so via our perception of the work environment.
“Insecure individuals have a negative view of their work teams and others, and they tend to be independent even when this causes them discomfort.”
Anxiety and hypersensitivity
Insecure attachment in the workplace describes workers who feel anxious and worried when their colleagues deny them the help they need. Consequently, they perceive themselves in a negative way. They’re afraid of rejection from their peers. In addition, they exhibit a high need for approval from the company.
These workers are hypersensitive. They focus their attention on trivial details and turn them into sources of worry and stress. This makes their problem-solving strategies obsessive and they perceive harmless situations as conflicting. In fact, they find it difficult to conceive of challenging situations as sources of opportunity and personal achievement.
Now you know the characteristics of people with insecure attachment and how they behave in the workplace, it’s worth noting how other types of people work. At the opposite end of the spectrum, are workers with secure attachment styles. They’re self-confident and harbor the belief that their teams and colleagues offer them the support they need. They work well both independently and in cooperative tasks.
“Workers with insecure attachment styles tend to maximize small details and label them as threatening, increasing job stress.”
All cited sources were thoroughly reviewed by our team to ensure their quality, reliability, currency, and validity. The bibliography of this article was considered reliable and of academic or scientific accuracy.
Li, F., Liang, X., & Liu, Q. (2022). Applying Attachment Theory to Explain Boundary-spanning Behavior: The Role of Organizational Support Climate. Journal of Work and Organizational Psychology, 38(3), 213-222.
Pedrero, F. E. (2021a). Manual de tratamientos psicológicos: Adultos (Psicología) (1.a ed.). Ediciones Pirámide.
Martínez, C., & Santelices, M. P. (2005). Evaluación del apego en el adulto: una revisión. Psykhe (Santiago), 14(1), 181-191.