Codependency in the Workplace: How to spot it. What to do about it.


“Other people may be there to help us, teach us, guide us along our path, but the lesson to be learned is always ours” – Melody Beattie

I will discuss codependency in the workplace and you will see how a work culture can be poisoned by the behaviors exhibited.

Codependency is usually thought of as an addiction to drugs or alcohol. We can also look at the term codependency defined as a dependency on others to give us satisfaction and feelings of self worth. The codependent behavior is that interchange of actions and reactions that eventually become a controlling device between individuals.

Codependent behaviors begin in family interactions and find themselves playing out in the workplace. After all, we have been conditioned for many years as a child in families that may have denied dysfunctionality or were not aware of the negative behaviors that contributed to the codependent behavior.

We as the individual in the workplace, and perhaps a product of a dysfunctional family, must be aware of how we behave with our peers and how that interaction plays out in the workplace environment.   With this awareness of codependent traits, we can make a situation come to light. We can realize the root cause of an uncomfortable relationship, and be able to stay away from being a victim. With the assistance from professionals, we can encourage the codependents to take action to perform more appropriately.

Codependency in the workplace: How to spot it:

  • An individual may be over involved with his peers to help get “their” work done
  • Feeling responsible for solving others’ problems to prevent them from falling “under the bus”.
  • Expecting others to do what the codependent suggests otherwise becoming irritated and resentful
  • Using extreme energy to solve others’ problems without even receiving approval or recognition
  • Taking everything to heart and feeling responsible for others and the victim of the other person’s poor behavior.
  • Fears rejection; looks for love and acceptance
  • Works harder on the others’ tasks and problems leaving little time for their own needs.
  • Need for control of others since there is lack of control of oneself.
  • Manipulates others to feel guilty
  • Feels bored if they cannot find a crisis
  • Looks for needy people
  • Expects to be perfect


In the workplace, the codependent may appear as a very well liked individual always willing to step forward to be helpful to create many positive connections among others. But too much of anything, especially in an overbearing manner, leads to a dysfunctional relationship between two or more individuals.


Codependency in the workplace: What to do about it.


If you are behaving along the lines of the traits discussed, it is to your benefit to get professional guidance to be able to help yourself and allow for others to be responsible for their own strengths and failures.


What to do about your codependent behavior:

  • Set boundaries, verbalize them and do not let others overstep them
  • Let go of your need to be there all the time for the other needy individual
  • Forgive yourself for feeling bad about not being able to help
  • You can love others, but you must love yourself and take care of your needs.
  • Believe in yourself -worth
  • Seek professional guidance


What to do about your employees’ codependent behavior:

  • Do not enable others’ behavior
  • Be assertive
  • Validate other’ needs, but remove yourself from dealing with their problems personal or otherwise.
  • Recognize positive behaviors
  • Make certain the job goals are understood and acted upon by empowering rather than enabling to encourage them to take on the responsibility
  • Document patterns of behavior
  • Set boundaries and rely on company policies if things do not improve.


Melody Beattie, in her book: Codependence No More-How to Stop Controlling Others and Start Caring for Yourself coined the word “Codependence”. I recommend it as it makes us aware of how detrimental it is to be the enabler-yes we want to help, we want to love, we want to prevent the failures of others, and in doing so we create a dependency that continues: the dependency of mother and child, of teacher and student, of husband and wife, of employer and employee.   “It is more worthwhile to teach someone to do something, than to do it for them.” _Melody Beattie





After reading Beattie’s book, I saw that codependency is the same problem as being addicted to drugs or alcohol. It is an addiction to controlling others. Knowing what a codependent lives with, lets you know how serious this issue is. Your workplace can be a culture of dysfunction because of codependent behavior. Look for the signs and make others aware of the need to change.


Other books about Codependency in the Workplace:

Codependency in the Workplace: A Guide for Employee Assistance and Human Resource Professionals By Seth Allcom


Consider how relationships in your workplace can possibly be tied in to Codependency.  Email me a scenario that fits the criteria mentioned in this blog.  In dong so you may see behaviors that can be changed with someone’s assistance.

For more discussion on these behaviors email:


“How to Say It When You Don’t Know What to Say”


“How to Say It When You Don’t Know What to Say”  in challenging situations,  in social or business situations, is most difficult since we are not sure how our words will be construed. We may have the best intentions, and we may weigh our words carefully and still have not said what would have helped the individual cope with the challenge they are facing. We will experience insecurity or fear about approaching someone who is in pain. I heard of people who crossed the street as to avoid confronting, actually comforting, an individual who had a loss.

Robbie Kaplan, in her book; How To Say It When You Don’t Know What to Say, writes about the loss of her baby and delves into the words people said and the discomforts in accepting those words. She wrote this book to exemplify the nuances with which we need to become acquainted. In her case it was dealing with a death of a child. We also deal with deaths, loss of jobs, disappointments, broken promises etc. It is our responsibility, as coworkers, leaders in the community or work environment, friends, aquaintenances, family members, bosses, coaches, etc to do our best to comfort the one who had the loss of one kind or another.

I often write about the need for Leadership Presence: being aware of the situation and the individual with whom we are communicating and having the emotional ability to reach out. Watching for non-verbal clues is a means of communicating as well. Listening is as important as communicating. Sometimes, that is all we need to do to let the individual know we are there for them. “We cannot feel their pain; we do not know what they are going through”. So, saying those words really does not comfort. They could anger the individual since we all experience “life” in different ways. No two losses are felt the same.

Here is a list of some things to do and say when you really have a challenge: (from Kaplan’s book)

To do:

  • Being willing to listen without giving advice
  • Be a support for that person
  • Communicate at a good time
  • Listen with no judgment
  • Write notes, emails, make telephone calls
  • Offer to do specific tasks-don’t ask what you can do: provide an idea.

To say:

  • How very sad I was to hear…
  • I am thinking of you
  • It must be difficult to get through this
  • I am here to listen if you want to talk
  • Take the time you need

Coaches are listeners. We listen so the client can think about how he/she feels and where he/she would like to go with the conversation. Listening takes energy and intention. I recommend



and the references that are made available to give you some guidelines as a boss, leader, community worker, family member, colleague, etc. to know what to say in a challenging situation. When called upon, your actions will be a comfort and allow for healing.

How to Say it When You Don’t Know What to Say

“There is all the difference in the world between having something to say and having to say something.”-John Dewey


Life is a Dance-you need the right music to get in step


Imagine dancing the rumba to swing dance music or the waltz to bosa nova. I’ve tried it and for some creative beings, it might work. But not for me. When we dance, we take in the whole idea of step by step to the rhythm of the music we have decided on using. And then, there are those who would rather sit on the sidelines and observe what others are gracefully, or not so gracefully engaged in.

Life is a dance. We take steps by steps every day of our lives to the beat of what goes on in our heads. And again, some of us sit on the sidelines preferring to disengage for whatever reason. I don’t know if we need talent or if we just need the confidence to know that to miss a step is just a way of telling us that we need to work more diligently the next time. We will need to have the right music, attitude and tools to be the dancer we want to be.

Yes, Life is a Dance: This title came to me during a coaching session when I asked a client to tell me what he thought he could accomplish based on his strengths or talents. “I can, can…. that is a dance.” he said. So from that point we realized that it is more productive to look at the “can, cans” instead of the “can’t, cant’s” and there certainly is no dance for that.





The chatter in our heads can give us two left feet if we do not arrest the negative thinking. To be a better “dancer”, one must consider one’s ability at other things done in the past. Think confidence, think strength in being, think strength in doing. Consider standing tall, looking great, remembering compliments others have given you, and of course your unique qualities.  Become your own advocate. Step by step, beat-by-beat…you will be dancing in no time.

“Life’s a dance you learn as you go

Sometimes you lead, sometimes you follow

Don’t worry about what you don’t know.

Life’s a dance you learn as you go”-John Michael Montgomery (Country Music Singer)




Coaching Tip: Get Real- How to be Authentic


“The privilege of a lifetime is to become who you truly are.”

C.G. Jung

In the above quote notice the word, become. When we hear the word, authentic in the above title, we think of being who we really are, being true to our convictions, showing others that we can feel, give of ourselves unconditionally, etc. There are times, however, that exposing our entire story can turn against us. Transparency is a delicate thing. Your story can be so much better with time. How to be authentic: You can become who you truly are by watching the behaviors of others who you admire. It is all about learning to take on a better you. And when you have that knowledge your story will be even a better one.




How to become who you truly are: (How to be authentic)

  • Choose 3 or 4 people you admire for their accomplishments or leadership expertise. Make time to ask some powerful questions that relate to risk taking, challenges, fears, needs, and feelings that move these people forward.
  • Develop questions to ask yourself along the same lines.
  • Compare the answers
  • What did you learn from your selected group that could help you move forward in career or life goals?
  • What do you see in yourself that showed up as barriers to moving forward?
  • Draw a picture of you inside a box. With in the box write all things that make you feel comfortable. Ex: small projects that I know something about. Write about 5 comforts.
  • Draw yourself inside a box, and this time draw arrows outside the box at all things that make you uncomfortable. Ex: Cold calling new client

New concept: Outside the box, where thinking is large, is a freeing experience.  The new concept is: Build your own unique box and create your entrepreneurial spirit of ideas close to you.  This is not a box that limits your thinking; it is focusing your thinking to bring you closer to what you really were meant to be doing.


What can you work on to be the person you can become? Make that stretch and feel the growth potential.  How to be authentic will come to you with experience.

If you trade your authenticity for safety, you may experience the following: anxiety, depression, eating disorders, addiction, rage, blame, resentment, and inexplicable grief.”

Brené Brown

Contact: to get out of the box that is holding you back and Get Real! Become the authentic person you can be.


This Can Be The Year-Learn a SMART way to achieve your goals


This can be The Year for you to achieve greatness, prioritize your goals, and integrate your work and life routines. This can be The Year to be who you know you can be, go where you have always wanted to go, and breathe the fresh air of success. Just like last year, right? -Did you make those things happen? On a scale of 1-10 where 10 is the highest level, where would you say you are based on your dreams of achievement?  And if you did, good for you!  Keep up the great work and mentor others.


With the proper process you can move along the scale of 1-10 and measure your achievement.

I recently rediscovered a book by Brian Tracy: Flight PlanThe Real Secret of Success. This book was written as a metaphor to prepare for a flight. To have all systems go, the pilot must have a flight plan. Tracy states that to get anywhere, you need clear goals, plans, and a schedule. Of course it take courage to then “lift off”.


Each of the 12 chapters of this book addresses, in metaphorical flight terms, how one can achieve success if one follows the author’s process:


“Choose Your Destination, Review Your Flight Options, Write Your Flight Plan, Prepare for Your Journey, Take Off at Full Throttle, Plan for Turbulence, etc.” Most importantly, I believe that your ability to know what your barriers have been, usually related to fears and the acceptance of the origin of those fears, will empower you to “Master Your Fears” and “Persist Until You Succeeed”.


It takes SMART goal setting and commitment to be able to even prepare for your “flight”. Specific, Measureable, Achievable, Realistic, and Timely goals. I have included some information to assist you as an individual or a leader of a team to assist others in Goal Setting following a SMART Goals oriented process so that you can say: “This Can be the Year”


As a leadership coach, I have worked hard to overcome my fear of flying.


Perhaps this article will inspire you to get to where you have dreamed of going instead of flying stand-by. Become present to your strengths and work toward building on them. As Brian Tracy says in his chapter titled “Make Continual Course Corrections,” Take Control of Your Mind. : What are you trying to do?  How are you trying to do it?  Is there a better way?  What are your assumptions?  What if your assumptions are wrong?  What actions would you take…?  What is the first action you should take?

What was was, what is is, what can be, CAN BE. Yes, THIS Can Be The Year:Learn a Smart Way to Achieve Your Goals.




“All the calculations show it can’t work. There’s only one thing to do: make it work”. Make it work for you………

  • Pierre Georges Latécoère, early French aviation entrepreneur.

Trust Me: Developing a Culture of Trust is a Leader’s Responsibility


I recently had the privilege of speaking to the leadership of a woman’s organization. The goal of my ice- breaker was to establish an atmosphere that could be tested for the individual to feel or not to feel a sense of trust with the person with whom they connected. They had three questions to ask of several people: name, how many siblings do you have and discuss briefly the hardest part of growing up. It didn’t take long for all to engage and engage they did. Actually, this was a group of women who said, at the end of the exercise, that they were able to open up freely with one another.

We discussed the purpose of the activity and how a trusting relationship is needed to create a common bond or move toward accomplishing the goals of an organization. Also, “The most important aspect of an individual that will create a lasting presence in an organization ‘s culture is TRUST.”

What you must know, as a leader, is how to affect cohesiveness, commitment, accountability and trust needed to establish a shared, vision, mission and achievement of goals.

What plays into this is the importance of Leadership Presence: As referenced in Leadership Presence by Halpern and Lubar, “Leadership Presence is the ability to connect authentically with the thoughts and feelings of others in order to motivate and inspire them toward a desired outcome.” They use the acronym: PRES to make their point: Presence is being available and flexible, Reaching out, Emotional, compassionate, and Self-knowing (authentic) with strong uncompromising values.

Kristie Hedges, in her book, The Power of Presence, uses the I PresenceÔ model-Intentional, individual and inspirational. These qualities develop the leader’s credibility and power to move the group toward success.

The cultures of organization vary and the members come with their own perceptions and conditioned attitudes. Even in families, we cannot always see eye-to-eye even for the good of the group. We as leaders may notice the inability to move forward and the root cause could be a lack of trust.    

   Overcoming the Five Dysfunctions of a Team by Patrick Lencioni, uses a triangle model showing that the absence of the foundation being Trust, will cause a fear of Conflict not allowing for a Commitment that is then an avoidance of Accountability leading to inattention to Results. See model below.



Lencioni says the role of the leader is to go first, mine for conflict, force clarity and closure, confront difficult issues and focus on collective outcomes.

The impact of trust, or the confidence in someone to keep a commitment, show integrity and be reliable will create a following and acceptance to move up the triangle to avoid the Five Dysfunctions of a Team so goals can be realized in an effective and efficient manner.

Stephen Covey stated that there are 13 Behaviors of High Trust Leaders Worldwide: These behaviors included demonstrating respect, righting wrongs, clarifying expectations, listening first, keeping commitments and extending trust to name a few.

Assess your behaviors and become that leader who will establish the trust needed to advance your organization.

Coaching Tip: Self-Deprecating Behavior: What to know and how to change it.

“Don’t Belittle yourself.  Be BIG yourself.”-Cortia Kent

Learn to accept a compliment.  Learn to value your input at meetings.  Learn to say thank you and continue to appreciate your accomplishments without taking something away from yourself.

Self-deprecating behavior (See blog) is a negative form of accepting a compliment.  It is also prevalent when providing a comment at a meeting, starting your sentence with, “I know this is a silly question…. This sets the scene for seeing less value in what you are about to offer.  If you do not value your opinion, who should?

Be aware of how you value or show lack of value for your comments or accomplishments.  Be proud of your accomplishments and opinions.


  • Do what you love to do.  Create an experience for yourself. Make it your special accomplishment.  Share the experience with a friend.
  • Use a journal to write what you feel grateful for.
  • Write your legacy statement.  What is it that you want to leave this world, how do you want to be remembered?
  • Pay attention to others who also use self -demeaning language.  Turn around what they say to be a positive reflection of something discussed.
  • Before speaking, be aware of the positive nature of what can come forth from your words of wisdom.
  • Accept the compliment; say thank you and go on with your work.
  • You are allowed to believe you are good at what you do.  Let others know of your skills and accomplishment.
  • Be your own advocate

Your self-esteem is very important to how you live and work and share your self with others.  No one is perfect.  We can all use some improvement.  Feedback from others is a good thing for you to utilize for knowing what to do.  Negative talk from yourself and said to others is not beneficial.  Use what you know to improve yourself and this will ultimately lead to a better self-esteem.


Contact: to discuss this tip and more.


I am always interested in hearing how you have used my coaching tips and the results you have.  Share them with a friend.




Sorry For What?-Become Aware of Self-Deprecating Comments

photoI Am Sorry But… Sorry for What?

Have you ever started your comment at a meeting or with a friend with: “I am sorry but… “ What exactly are you sorry about?  Are you sorry you happen to have a very beneficial comment to share with your group?  Are you sorry that you are not valuable enough to add your thoughts or provide a possible solution?  How about, “This might be a silly question but….” Here again is a way to set yourself up as not being smart enough to be present at the meeting. Become aware of the use of self-deprecating comments. Remember,” No question is a silly or stupid question.”  Those who ask questions learn and when we learn we can offer valuable in put.

If you are in a leadership position, I offer that you have ground rules that mention the importance of everyone’s questions and input.  I also recommend that it be widely acknowledged that we all have valuable information to share and bring our own knowledge from all differing experiences.

Women have a tendency to be unable to take a compliment when someone admires something they have ”Oh, this sweater.  I have had it for years.”  “Oh, yes, I did the report, but it’s not really that good.”   The habit of self-deprecating behavior starts in childhood.  It acts as a defensive protection against criticism.  As teenagers we are under pressure to be part of the crowd, so being smarter, or prettier makes us stand out.  As we age, we continue to use negative comments to justify our accomplishments as being mediocre.  We then find ourselves with low self-esteem.  This behavior, as stated in a Princeton University study, creates neural pathways in ones brain and soon we believe all the comments we have made to others about ourselves.

Joan Rivers, Rodney Dangerfield, and Woody Allen made lots of money using self-deprecating comments.  They are comedians.  People can relate to their negative comments about themselves.  In actuality, is that really funny when we stop and think about our own behaviors and how they have played a part in our lives and careers-a part that may have been quite negative?

I recommend you lose the self-deprecating comments and take on a belief that you are perfect as you are.  The only thing to change is your thinking that you are not good enough.  If this is the case, you CAN do something about it.


Check out my Coaching Tip: Self- Deprecating Behavior-What to know and how to change it


Contact to work on your self-image and sense of purpose.

Coaching Tip: Motivation is about your true desire to set the world on fire


“From a little spark may burst a mighty flame”. -Dante


In my New Year’s blog, I use the metaphor of lighting a fire to get started on your journey.  This fire will not stay ignited unless you keep it fueled.  I have some ideas for you to continue to stoke this fire so that your motivation to do what you truly want to do IS “going to set the world on fire!”


Your “growth mind set “ (Dr.Carol Dweck-Stanford University study) to accept a challenge will differentiate you from all others.  It will give you the open opportunity to see that you are not held back by your perceived notion that your IQ or your talents define you for life.



  • Have the end result in sight, something you really want, so you can lay out your path: visualize how that looks and how you feel in the moment.
  • Consider the value of achieving this goal; if it works, then the benefit is…  If it doesn’t work then I will… (Positive plan B) Throw another log on the fire.
  • Learn to ask questions, for those who do,  learn so much about what they need to know to be successful in their pursuits.
  • Share your goal with someone who you trust to champion you and your ideas.
  • Engage an accountability partner-declare your goal, set up a time frame for each step, and make a plan to report back to your partner to discuss how things worked out because of what you did or did not do during the week.
  • Make a list of your positive attributes and keep honing them.
  • Look for opportunities in the “not so good” outcomes


Be the catalyst that helps light fires under others as well.  Being in the company of others with  “growth mind sets” keeps your fire  glowing.


CONTACT Isabel Einzg-Wein at to keep that fire glowing.

“Come on baby, light that fire”…Becoming Motivated and Staying Engaged in the New Year



In 1966, Robby Krieger wrote the song, “Come on baby light my fire”, sung by the Doors.  However you want to interpret the song is up to you, but just consider you might need that fire to get going in the New Year.

Before January 1, 2017 is upon us, I wanted to relate a question I was recently asked.  A young woman approached me at a meeting and after our 30-second elevator speeches, she asked, “How can I get motivated?” As a coach, I had to answer her with my own powerful question.  “What feeling do you get when you have accomplished something regarding your work?” I asked. As her whole demeanor changed, she easily had several positive and beneficial statements.

Thinking of the positive instead of how do you feel when you are not engaged in your work, takes us to a dimension where we can see possibilities from our efforts.  We are uplifted at knowing we CAN feel good.   We are capable of pulling it off.  So why is it that we get excited or motivated and then after a while find ourselves in a funk, unproductive, just plain stuck?

In an article from Forbes magazine some reasons for this funk are habit, we don’t have the means available; money, knowledge, contacts, the risk or cost is too great, or we are not being true to ourselves about what we really want.

So, I ask you, what would it take to get you started and stay actively engaged? Or as I was asked, “How can I get motivated.?”   First, consider what do you really want, how does it feel when you are actively engaged in your work, and who can help you become accountable to stay motivated?  That person can be a friend, colleague, or a coach.  This person is your accountability partner with whom you will discuss your goals, strategies, and possible actions.  Commit to a time when you will start and what you will accomplish in a set time frame.  Set up a schedule when you will get back in touch to share the results of your actions.  If you don’t accomplish your tasks, you can discuss why this was so.  The fruits of your labor can be seen after planting the seed, nurturing it and keeping it fertilized.

Get a new start, break the old habits, define the costs and benefits, be accountable, forge ahead, and have a happy productive new year!

You can get a start on being motivated, being accountable, and being successful in what you really want to accomplish.


Contact Isabel today to start on your unique pathway to new horizons.

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