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Treating Workplace Attachment Disorder

Illustration of paper clip and envelope, with red slash over both.

(Image credit: Lisa Nielsen)

We all work with someone suffering from an attachment disorder. You know that person. Despite the fact that you've sent them a link to a perfectly good collaborative document, they've taken the liberty to disconnect from the original document. They’ve copied and pasted your document into Word. Tracked changes. Then, they've arrogantly sent it back to the group as an attachment. Meanwhile, by the time they've done this, the original, collaborative document already had oodles of updates and edits from other team members.

Lack of understanding

However, people with attachment disorders don't understand this. They may not even care. They just tell you to look at their version and integrate any changes. They don't get that their version is like so ten versions ago. They missed all the comments, updates, and banter on the collaborative version. They've just made a lot more work for you, and, it is quite likely that they aren't the only one with attachment disorder.

It’s not unusual for another old-school colleague to also have attachment disorder. They did the same thing sending their new version to you as well.  

Now you have three versions of the document, even though you intentionally were using a collaborative document to avoid version control issues and thus extra work for everyone.

You’re just wasting your time if you try pleading with those suffering from attachment disorder to go to update the original collaborative document. Without an intervention and extensive treatment, they just can't. Attachment issues are serious to the person who has an aversion to connecting and collaborating with others. 

Attachment issues

People with attachment disorder often have control issues. Version control that is. Their version is the version everyone must be beholden to. There is no regard for the desire to have one version. They may have anger problems. They sent you their version. Take it or leave it. They just feel more comfortable working the way they do, so deal with it. They may have difficulty showing genuine care for other people's time. Working this way is easier for them, so everyone else must accommodate that. They also may have an underdeveloped conscience, failing to show guilt, regret, or remorse about not collaborating and making more work for others. It’s not their problem. It’s yours. So get over it.

Treatment

Left unresolved, attachment disorders can interfere with workplace productivity. It is important to provide treatment. Unfortunately, those with attachment issues may be resistant. Treatment usually involves many people on a team or project taking a stand together and refusing to accept attachments. It will take training and explaining to get those suffering from attachment disorder to understand the benefits of collaboration, a single source of truth, and the value of one version only. It may be confusing to this person at first, but with consistency and a commitment to collaboration, colleagues usually will start to see progress. The key is not to back down. Standing firm in your rejection of attachments will ultimately result in a more efficient and effective workplace for everyone. 

cross posted at The Innovative Educator 

Lisa Nielsen (@InnovativeEdu) has worked as a public-school educator and administrator since 1997. She is a prolific writer best known for her award-winning blog, The Innovative Educator. Nielsen is the author of several booksand her writing has been featured in media outlets such as The New York Times,The Wall Street JournalTech&Learning, and T.H.E. Journal