Attitude may be intangible, but it really matters. You cannot always control your feelings (nor should you necessarily try to). But feelings are on the inside. Attitude is what you show everyone else on the outside—and that is always under your control.
Everybody has bad days or bad moments. But, even if you are not feeling it today, make sure you don’t wear your bad feelings on the outside.
There are five common bad attitude behaviors to avoid.
Porcupines say, with either words or body language, “Get away from me!” They want others to avoid them or leave them alone. Porcupines may express this by being angry, irritable, or sad. Of course, we aren’t always going to feel 100% at work, whether we are working remotely or in a shared location. But again, the important thing is to have an attitude that is at least polite.
Don’t force yourself to be cheerful or bubbly. But keep it professional. Be approachable and open to communicating about the work in a brief, straightforward, and efficient manner.
Entanglers are the opposite of porcupines. Entanglers want everybody else to be involved in their (often personal) issues. They want others to notice, listen to, and engage them around their issues, even if those issues are really not anyone’s concern at work.
It’s easy to become an entangler, without even noticing, in workplaces that are particularly social. But if you find yourself relying on work as a place for support and attention, take a step back and remember: work is about the work. Even if you have close personal friendships with your colleagues outside of work, avoid the temptation to blend work time and social time. Make a plan to discuss personal matters outside of work, and stick to that plan.
We all know (and have probably at some time been) a complainer. Complainers point out the negative symptoms of a situation. But they also do so without offering solutions or next steps.
Don’t stop speaking up when you think something is going wrong or needs to be fixed. But when you do, offer a potential solution. Or make a point of saying, “I don’t have an answer right now, but I will look into it. I welcome any thoughts or advice.” Be known as a troubleshooter.
Blamers are close cousins of complainers. They also point out negative symptoms, like a complainer, but blamers point the finger at specific individuals in an effort to “solve” the problem.
The issue with blame is it may feel productive, but in reality, it is only further delaying the process of actual problem-solving. Imagine how much better it would be if you channeled that finger-pointing into a robust after-action review. Focusing everyone’s problem-solving energy on the concrete actions of the work itself, rather than individuals, will lead to change that improve future results.
This is the worst of the most common bad attitudes. Stink bomb throwers make sarcastic (or worse) remarks, curse under their breath (or aloud), or even make loud gestures such as slamming doors.
Stink bomb throwers are usually caught in a pattern of thinking where they are always focusing on what they need or want. They are eternally let down and may feel helpless to change the situation. But if you are a stink bomb thrower reading this, I encourage you to make an effort to be generous. Offer your respect, commitment, hard work, creativity, or gratitude. Try it for a while and see how it affects your working relationships, or at least your attitude about them.
The trick is, you can only intentionally change your behavior on the outside if you are aware of how you feel on the inside. Otherwise, you will be caught in an eternal state of unconscious reaction to what is going on around you.
So, become aware. You don’t need to get into full on meditation if that’s not your style. But at least make a habit of pausing and checking in with yourself throughout the day, “How am I feeling right now?”