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The 4 Attachment Styles

Edited By: Krista Mc'Farlene
 Through our youth and into adulthood our subconscious programming is developed. This programming plays a role in how we survive or thrive at work. As such, you know exactly how to manage your time better at work, but a seemingly uncontrollable urge to do the opposite overtakes you. For instance, you know you should say no when you are asked to take on a new project, but you say yes. Or when your boss said that your report was good enough, but you work until midnight perfecting it. The root issue may stem from deep subconscious programming which is known as your 'attachment style'.
 
Becoming aware of what your attachment style is, may help you better understand your frustration at your seemingly irrational behavior. Furthermore, it dictates how you relate to other people, particularly in situations that trigger stress. Discover how your attachment style may affect your relationships. 
 
1. Anxious-preoccupied attachment 
attachment styles

This attachment style arises out of a fear of upsetting others. This fear-based approach leads to counterproductive behaviors. So, you may be struggling with a compulsion to check email incessantly, making sure that everything is okay. 

Is this your attachment style? This attachment style tends to illustrate two major time management struggles. First, your attention will get hijacked whenever you experience a perceived 'threat'. This will cause you to feel a negative bias - for instance, you may experience a number of negative thoughts, which while they may be true, they likely aren't. Consider this example: You believe that the email sent by a client is a complaint, and the lack of acknowledgment from the boss means that she is looking to replace you. In these types of thoughts, your anxious brain jumps to negative conclusions and gets obsessed with issues until they are resolved. The second issue with time management is a complete lack of ability to saying no. Just the idea of it terrifies you. 

What to do: Firstly, you'll need to calm your nervous system in order to get out of fight-or-flight mode whenever something happens at work. Positive self-talk is a great calming strategy, as is peer support. For positive self-talk, think along the lines of 'let's wait and see what happens', or 'everything will be okay'. If you are still feeling agitated, you may need to ask for support to get clearheaded enough to move forward. Perhaps you may need to address the situation directly with a client or a colleague, by talking to an outside person for reassurance. 

2. Dismissive avoidance attachment
attachment styles

At work, these individuals tend to think they are smart, while everyone else is not as smart as they are. These types of individuals tend to decide what they should do and ignore what others want. Consequently, this leads to conflict and mistrust, which in turn can lead to others attempting to micromanage and monitor them. This just makes them more annoyed and more likely to dismiss input. 

Is this your attachment style? Your biggest time management issue is that you most likely miss your deadlines and don't do the work that they consider most important. Your biggest time management issue from your perspective is that you tend to be working late. You tend to work long hours when you get fixated on doing a particular project and strive to do it really well. Or, they may happen because you want to work on what you consider to be important first, after which you will also have to complete work for others. 

What to do: To make a change, start by acknowledging that other people may have a point. While you may not agree with their stated priorities and you may think you know better, if you want to achieve greater success, and have people micromanage you less, as well as work fewer hours, there will be times when you are better off listening to and doing what other people say. This may mean that you need to consciously work on your emotional intelligence, as well as recognizing that an idea different from yours is not necessarily wrong. 

3. Fearful avoidance attachment
attachment styles

The best word to describe those with fearful avoidance attachment is 'stuck'. They have the same fear as those with anxious attachment, but they don't have the confidence that they can make things right. Someone with anxious attachment, for instance, would open a potentially 'threatening' email, and reply to it as quickly as possible to avert danger. Someone with a fearful avoidance attachment style, however, would see the email, panic and never open it. But, never reading the email will create a compounding paralyzing dread. They fear bad outcomes so strongly, that as a result, they never discover if the email from a client was a disappointing email or just a simple FYI. 

Is this your attachment style? In this attachment style, you spend a majority of your time in a state of feeling overwhelmed because you fear everything and feel that you can do very little about your fears, let alone the work that is piling up. This leads to trying to avoid everything, escaping and getting lost in social media, as well as trying to organize and reorganize your desk and perpetually think about how to explain why your work isn't done. 

What to do: If this is a pattern you fall into, follow this two-step strategy. First, reduce your fear response by trying some of the calming strategies listed in anxious attachment style - which includes positive self-talk and support from colleagues or friends. Then, you will need to take gentle action, to get your work done. Start by setting some goals for yourself. It may start with opening an email that you are terrified to read, or it may include working just 15 minutes on a project you have avoided for weeks, possibly longer. Aim to achieve small bits of progress, enabling you to realize that you can do something which didn't kill you, and eventually lead you to greater success. 

4. Secure attachment
attachment styles

A secure attachment style enables a person at work to take tasks as they come, doing what they can and addressing any issues that come up easily. These individuals work hard and do not fear saying no when they feel they need to. They know they are capable and they are confident others will respond well to them. 

Is this your attachment style? If so, from the four, you generally fare best when it comes to managing your time. In fact, you feel comfortable prioritizing tasks and asking for help when you need it. You also feel comfortable setting healthy boundaries and pushing back when necessary. You also don't engage in fear-based behavior often. 

What to do: If this is your attachment style then you are most likely managing your time well, and achieving a good work-life balance. Stay secure but be aware and regularly ask for direct feedback, so if there is something that you need to work on, you can make changes. Furthermore, if you notice something off, perhaps there has been a change of communication with your manager, don't dismiss it. Do a quick follow-up either in person or via email. You can say something on the lines of: “I noticed that we’re not communicating as well as in the past. Is there anything I’ve done that’s contributed to that shift?”  

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