Occupational Relationship Typology: Part 1

To start off, the background information comes from the Third Edition of Broderick and Blewitt’s textbook “The Life Span.” The photo of the chart is taken from the same text.

It is easy to guess that the next sets of posts will be based on a theory from my study in life span psychology. This particular theory in the context of the textbook is in relation to how spouses relate to each other and build attachment to each other. This theory, though, has to some interesting application to the the working environment. Whether we admit it or not, by simply spending 8+ hours each weekday with any group of people there is created certain attachments. These vary in complexity and can create different impacts on the workplace. Many of the recent behavior based safety programs rely on people building relationships with each other in a way where they feel confident and empowered. This confidence and empowerment allows a team based effort in risk avoidance. In practical terms, if a co-worker sees another co-worker performing an unsafe task, they should feel the urge to intervene and prevent an injury. This ability to intervene on the well-being of another co-worker can only come through building meaningful work relationships ( i.e. attachment). There has to be a sense of investment in each other and also a keen empathy toward each other.

The basis of these discussions come from Bartholomew’s Typology: A Four-Category Model of Adult Attachment Categories.

IMG_1275 copyThe theory is simple in that it compares a positive vs negative model of self compared with a positive vs negative model of others. In other words, I have a good or bad feeling toward myself. I also have a good or bad feeling towards other people. Based on how those line up, it affects the type of relationship that be be built.

By having a better understanding of the obstacles that could be in the way of creating positive and meaningful relationships, it creates an opportunity to find better ways of engaging each other.

The ultimate goal of having functional workplace safety programs is to assure that the proper safeguards are in place. The risk has to be managed in such a way as to best protect the people that work around the hazard. There are times where these is risk. It is critical that as individuals and organizations we are able to help each other engage in the safest work practices as possible. If there is an action that could create an adverse reaction, then there should be an inherent social duty to say something to prevent harm to self or others. There are many barriers to overcome in feeling comfortable in having those discussions. Some of those barriers come from “attachment” difficulties based on aspects of the typology. The goal of the next series of posts is to better understand each typology as it applies to the workplace and how to better engage those types in creating a dynamic and positive behavioral safety system.

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