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Last Updated on February 27, 2018

Office Politics is the New Flu

Office Politics is the New Flu

Office politics are like the flu. Most of us know that there’s nothing worse for morale than getting tangled up in workplace politics. No matter how much you want to avoid them, there’s no absolute way to ensure that you can stay away from office politics.

Like the flu, office politics are highly contagious. Sometimes things your coworkers are talking about include useful information, but other times, gossips just mean trouble. With each new person that becomes involved, the issues spread. Before long, people are at each other’s throats, undercutting one another, and worrying about whether they’ll keep their jobs.

If you don’t catch and treat the symptoms of office politics early, they can spread like wildfire and paralyze your organization.

The Flu Incubates Silently

Much like influenza is triggered by environmental factors, office politics require a certain environment to infect a work place. Whenever a company undergoes change, politics can come to light. The changes could be as simple as promoting a new manager, firing an employee, expanding the company, or downsizing.

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    In the same way that the flu affects those with weakened immune systems first, office politics start with weak employees. Staff members who only care about their success without worrying about the company tend to be affected first.

      People who care only for themselves without thinking about the needs of the company can be disastrous for workplace culture. They treat people who agree with them well, and they reject anyone with a different opinion.

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      When the office gossips become involved, the disease spreads. A lack of transparency regarding policies about performance evaluations and promotions intensifies the political situation. Employees start competing with each other instead of working together, and progress ceases.

      It’s Highly Contagious

      Policies combined with certain personalities enable office politics to take over a workplace quickly. At first, the symptoms are mild. Perhaps a few people feel resentful toward one person, and they chat about them behind their back.

      Think of this as the way you feel when you are just coming down with the flu. Maybe you started coughing, your nose was a bit runny, or you felt a chill. Sure, you can probably get through your day just fine, but these symptoms are warning you that a bigger problem is on the way.

      What started out as a little gossip rapidly turns into a situation in which a small group gangs up against one person. In response, the person may form a posse of their own. Before you know it, they’re competing for a spot at the top of the company instead of working together for the good of the organization.

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      This wouldn’t be a huge deal except that eventually this affects everyone in the office. Even those who aren’t interested in getting involved may be dragged into the dispute. Employees who do not become involved may quit because of the working environment.

      At this point, everyone is unhappy at work. The quality of work decreases as employee stress increases. Company outputs come to a grinding halt.

        Build a Strong Immune System

        When the flu starts going around, people have a number of reactions. Some ignore the symptoms and feel sicker. Others rest, take medicine, and drink plenty of water to help with recovery. Others do their best to prevent it, and even though they may still come down with it, they usually know what they need to do to get better.

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        The same is true for office politics. Politics may affect people differently, but the key is to get better quickly and build a stronger immune system. Here are some ways to do it:

        1. Hire wisely. Preventing office politics from becoming a problem starts during hiring. When an organization finds a person with the ambition to support the company’s goals instead of focusing solely on personal success, they are worth hanging on to.
        2. Be fair and clear about expectations. Organizations need ground rules so that everyone can have a rewarding work experience. Maintaining transparency so that employees understand how and why decisions are made reduces chatter. Making sure that the workload is distributed fairly, prohibiting gossip, and giving people the chance to voice their opinions constructively can be a big help.
        3. Look out for signs of trouble. If everyone–especially leadership– keeps an eye on the workplace’s culture, you’ll be able to spot the symptoms of office politics when they first start instead of waiting for productivity to suffer.

        Treat the Symptoms as Soon as You Sense Them

        Don’t allow the contagion to continue spreading. When you know there’s a problem, tackle it head on.

        • Root out the origin. Office politics usually start with one person or a handful of people. Identify and talk to that person to figure out what is driving the drama. This can help you determine if the issue started because of problems with management or hiring. Sometimes a polite chat can reverse the damage right away.
        • Know when to say goodbye. If the person can’t understand the consequences of their actions, or if they aren’t willing to listen, they may not be a good fit for your office. Let them go to save your office culture.

        You may not be in a position to hire and fire people, but you still have a responsibility to care about your company’s culture. If you see something concerning, bring it up with your manager so that they can handle it proactively.

        Leadership that cares will spring into action to stop the illness from spreading. Managers with bad intentions will choose to do nothing. If you bring a concern to your leadership and they refuse to come up with a solution, it may be time for you to move on. You need to be in an environment that won’t stunt your professional growth.

        Nobody Is 100% Immune to the Flu of Office Politics

        The best way to cure office politics is to stop them as soon as they start. Even if you try your best to stay out of them, they can very quickly make your workplace stressful and unpleasant. The best thing you can do is recognize the signs of trouble early so that you or your leadership team can treat the contagion before it infects everyone.

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        Anna Chui

        Communication Expert

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        Published on July 13, 2018

        Striving Towards Secure Attachment: How to Restructure Your Thoughts

        Striving Towards Secure Attachment: How to Restructure Your Thoughts

        What if you could discover some tools and methods that could improve your relationships? What if by gaining a little knowledge you could understand your relationship dynamics better and give them a boost up?

        By learning what secure attachment is and how to restructure your thoughts, you can become more self-aware of your relationship dynamics. After becoming more aware, you can then take a few steps to make them better than ever. That’s something that many of us could benefit from.

        When we hear the term secure attachment, our mind typically goes to a relationship. And that’s exactly what it’s about.

        In this article I’ll discuss the concept of secure attachments in more detail and how restructuring your thoughts can help you strive towards achieving better relationships.

        Relationships are a hugely important part of our lives and whatever we can do to improve them is a good thing for everyone involved.

        What is attachment theory?

        Let’s do a quick overview of what attachment theory is. This will provide a good foundation for the rest of this article.

        The esteemed psychologist John Bowlby first coined the term attachment theory in the late 60’s. Bowlby studied early childhood conditioning extensively and what he found was very interesting.

        His research showed that when a very young child has a strong attachment to a caregiver, it provides the child with a sense of security and foundation. On the other hand when there isn’t a secure attachment, the child will expend a lot more developmental energy looking for security and stability.

        The child without the secure attachment tends to become more fearful, timid and slow to explore new situations or their environment.

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        When a strong attachment is developed in a child, he or she will be inclined to be more adventurous and seek out new experiences because they feel more secure. They know that whoever is watching out for them will be there if needed.

        Bowlby’s colleague, Mary Ainsworth, took the theory further. She did extensive studies around infant-parent separations and provided a more formal framework for the differing attachment styles.

        How attachment develops

        Simply put, attachment is an emotional bond with another person. Attachment doesn’t have to go both ways, it can be one person feeling attached to another without it being reciprocated. Most of the time, it works between two people to one degree or another.

        Attachment begins at a very young age. Over the history of time, when children were able to maintain a closer proximity to a caregiver that provided for them, a strong attachment was formed.

        The initial thought was that the ability to provide food or nourishment to a child was the primary driver of a strong attachment.

        It was then discovered that the primary drivers of attachment proved to be the parent/caregivers responsiveness to the child as well as the ability to nurture that child in a variety of ways. Things such as support, care, sustenance, and protection are all components of nurturing a child.

        In essence a child forms a strong attachment when they feel that their caregiver is accessible and attentive and there if they need them; that the parent/caregiver will be there for them. If the child does not feel that the caregiver is there to help them when needed, they experience anxiety.

        Different types of attachments

        In children, 4 types of attachment styles have been identified. They are as follows:

        • Secure attachment – This is primarily marked by discomfort or distress when separated from caregivers and joy and security when the caregiver is back around the child. Even though the child initially feels agitated when the caregiver is no longer around, they feel confident they will return. The return of the parent or caregiver is met with positive emotions, the child prefers parents to strangers.
        • Ambivalent attachment – These children become very distressed when the parent or caregiver leaves. They feel they can’t rely on their caregiver for support when the need arises. Even though a child with ambivalent attachment may be agitated or confused when reunited with a parent or caregiver, they will cling to them.
        • Avoidant attachment – These kids typically avoid parents or caregivers. When they have a choice of being with the parent or not, they don’t seem to care one way or the other. Research has shown that this may be the result of neglectful caregivers.
        • Disorganized attachment – These children display a mix of disoriented behavior towards their caregiver. They may want them sometimes and other times they don’t. This is sometimes thought to be linked to inconsistent behavior from the parent or caregiver.

        What attachments mean to adults

        So the big question is how does this affect us in adulthood? Intuitively it makes sense that as a child, if we have someone who will be there when we need them, we feel secure. And on the other end of the spectrum, if we aren’t sure someone’s going to provide what we need when we need it, we may become more anxious and fearful.

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        As an adult, we tend to wind up in one of three primary attachment types based on our childhood experiences. These are secure, avoidant, and anxious. Technically, there is a fourth one, anxious-avoidant, but it is quite a bit less common. They are described as follows:

        • Secure – When you have a secure attachment, you are comfortable displaying interest and affection towards another person but you’re also fine being alone and independent. Secure types are less apt to obsess over a relationship gone sour and handle being rejected easier. Secure types also tend to be better than other types with not starting relationships with people that might not be the best partners. They cut off the relationship quicker when they see things in a potential partner they don’t like. Secure attachment people make up the majority of the attachment types.
        • Anxious – Folks who have an anxious attachment style typically need a lot of reassurance from their partners. They have a much harder time being on their own and single than the other styles and fall into bad relationships more often. The anxious style represent about 20% of the population. It’s been shown that if anxious attachment styles learn how to communicate their needs better and learn to date secure partners, they can move towards the secure attachment style.
        • Avoidant – Avoidant attachment style represents approximately 25% of the population as adults. Avoidants many times have the hardest time in a relationship because they have a difficult time finding satisfaction. In general, they are uncomfortable with close relationships and intimacy and are quite independent. They are the lone wolf type person.
        • Anxious-avoidant – The anxious-avoidant style is relatively rare. It is composed of conflicting styles – they want to be close but at the same time push people away. They do things that push the people they are closest to away. Many times there can be a higher risk of depression or other mental health issues.

        Here’s where it gets really interesting:

        Move towards secure attachment

        The good news is that it is possible to move from one style to another. Specifically, it is possible to move towards a more secure attachment style.

        Now as you might imagine, this is not an easy or a quick process. Like any type of big change where you are attempting to alter such a deeply ingrained mindset, it takes a strong will to accomplish.

        The first step is developing an awareness of your attachment style. The next step is to have the desire and drive to move your attachment style towards the more secure style.

        If someone with an anxious or avoidant style has a long term relationship with a secure type, the anxious or avoidant person can slowly get brought up more towards a secure style.

        The opposite is also true, they could bring the secure person more towards their attachment style. Therefore, you have to be conscious of your type and if you want to move more towards secure, it takes persistence.

        Therapy is an option as well. Anxious types many times need to work on their self-esteem, avoidants on their connection specifically and compassion.

        How to restructure your thoughts

        Ready for the way to do it? Here we go:

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        For the Avoidant Style

        As with any type of change on such a deep level, the first step is awareness. Realize you have an avoidant style and be aware of it as you have interactions with your partner(s).

        Try to work towards a place of mutual support and giving/taking. Try to lessen your need for complete self-reliance. Allow your partner to do some things that make you a little uncomfortable that you would normally do yourself.

        Don’t always focus on the imperfections of your partner. We all have them, remind yourself of that.

        Make yourself a list of the qualities that your partner has that you are thankful for.

        Look for a secure style partner if at all possible, they would be good for you to be with.

        If you have a tendency to end relationships before they go too far, be aware of that and let it develop further.

        Get into the habit of accepting and even instigating physical touch. Tell yourself that it’s good for you to have some intimacy. Intimacy can help you feel safe and secure.

        And over time you can realize that it’s okay to rely on other people.

        For the Anxious Style

        For the anxious style, the #1 thing to work on is learning to communicate needs better. This is a huge issue for the anxious style.

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        First and foremost if you communicate your needs more clearly, you will have less anxiety, that’s already a big win. This will also allow you to better assess if a potential partner is good for you.

        Try to bring your feelings more to the surface and most importantly, share them with your partner. Remember that secure attachments typically communicate pretty well, this is what you are working towards.

        For the Anxious-Avoidant Style

        The anxious-avoidant is a very small percentage of the attachment styles. Since this type tends to be anxious in the relationship AND more or less a loner, the key here is working hard to be very self-aware of your actions.

        Use the parts of striving towards secure attachment from the anxious tips and the avoidant restructuring of your thoughts to consciously work towards being more secure.

        When you find yourself pushing someone away, ask why. If you feel worried that your partner is going to leave you, again, ask yourself where this is coming from. Have they shown you any reason to believe this? Many times there is no real evidence. In that case, allow yourself to calm down and try not to obsess over it.

        For the Secure Style

        Since the goal is to move towards a more secure attachment style, there isn’t much needed here as you might imagine.

        Something to be aware of is being in a relationship just because it’s “okay”. Don’t stay if it’s not a good place for you and your partner. If your partner is of an anxious or avoidant attachment style, stay mindful to not start developing characteristics of those styles.

        Strive towards Secure Attachment

        As we wrap things up, you’ve probably developed a good idea of the benefits of secure attachment. If you don’t currently have a secure attachment style, here are some benefits of restructuring your thoughts more towards this style:

        • Positive self esteem and self image
        • Close and well adjusted relationships
        • Sense of security in self and the world
        • Ability to be independent as well as in relationships
        • Optimistic outlook on life and yourself
        • Strong coping skills and strategies for relationships and life
        • Trust in self and others
        • Close, intimate relationships
        • Strong determination and problem solving skills

        If you are an anxious or avoidant style or the combination of anxious-avoidant, it is possible to move towards a secure attachment style.

        It takes self-awareness, patience and a strong desire to get close to being secure but it can be done. You will find that putting the effort into it will provide you with more open, honest and satisfying relationships.

        Featured photo credit: Pexels via pexels.com

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