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Getting Great Attitude

Getting Great Attitude
Work is either fun or drudgery. It depends on your attitude.
I like fun.
—Colleen C. Barrett

Those of us who have been charged with hiring others, have very likely been taught to “look for someone with a great attitude; you can train them in all the skills they’ll need.”

Good advice, but just the beginning.

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Here’s something to consider; attitude is a result of something. If a prospective candidate comes to you with a great attitude, ready to take on the world (and your version of it) they’ve come from a situation which gave them a positive, enthusiastic, optimistic outlook. You are now the lucky recipient of that bountiful result.

However a great attitude is a fragile thing. It’s a mental state that can change quickly and fairly easily. The question now becomes if the job you hire them into will sustain that person’s morale as that great attitude you perceive they have, or not. Do you offer them a working situation which will keep them in that sunny disposition they came to you with, or are dark clouds on the horizon?

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  • Do you offer them a role in which you will employ all the strengths they come to you with, using their talents every day in a manner which unleashes the creativity of personal growth and success?
  • Do you offer them an organizational culture where the way of work is fun, it fills them with vibrant energy, and it surrounds them with people they’ll admire and enjoy being with?
  • Do you offer them work which they will always feel is important and worthwhile, and thus working at it makes them feel important and worthy? Will what they do for you count for something meaningful?
  • Do you offer them a future-forward vision which will inspire them to learn more and be more, continually striving for what could be, a vision which banishes apathy and complacency?

Great workplace environments are those which are the catalysts of great attitude because they are filled to the brim with hope and promise. They cradle us with a safe place to react as we instinctively or emotionally need to, just to get stuff out and dispensed with, and THEN they provide a framework in which we’ll do the next thing. Is the ‘next thing’ the best possible alternative, one imbued with optimism?

We always have a choice between the positive and negative, and our workplaces can create an abundance of positive choices and a scarcity of negative ones. If most of the choices available to us are overwhelmingly positive they fill us with enthusiasm. We trust that more likely than not, a great result will follow, and we step forward with a great attitude.

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You might think it a lot of responsibility to shape those kinds of workplaces, and yes, I’d have to agree that it is. However you’ll be creating something, so why not that?

Great attitude can deliver a lot of good things. I don’t think that’s something I need to prove to you; just count up the examples you’ve experienced first hand. Go for the gusto and create a working environment which makes more good happen.

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I do agree that it’s far better to start with someone who already has a great attitude, one they’ve packed up and brought to work with them. They have experienced the happiness it brings to their lives, and they will have a desire to keep that fiery joy burning strong and sure. Just remember this; that attitude is not guaranteed to last forever unless you do what it takes to make sure it does.

“Make your optimism come true.”
—Author unknown

Related articles:
Experience required. (Are you sure?)
Looking for the Good in People
The Role of the Manager
Your Final, Essential Hiring Question


Rosa Say is the author of Managing with Aloha, Bringing Hawaii’s Universal Values to the Art of Business and the Talking Story blog. She is the founder of Say Leadership Coaching, a company dedicated to bringing nobility to the working arts of management and leadership. Her most recent online collaboration effort is JJLN: the Joyful Jubilant Learning Network.


More by this author

Rosa Say

Rosa is an author and blogger who dedicates to helping people thrive in the work and live with purpose.

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Last Updated on October 14, 2020

The Art of Humble Confidence

The Art of Humble Confidence

To be confident or not to be confident, that is the question. I’m not sure about you, but I’ve been a bit confused about all this discussion about the subject of confidence. Do you really need to be more confident or should you try to be more humble? I think the answer is both – you just have to know where to use it.

East VS West – Confidence, It’s a Cultural Thing

In typical Western countries, the answer to the confidence debate is obvious – more is better. Our heros are rebellious, independent and shoot first, ask questions later. I think this snippet of dialog from The Matrix sums it up best:

Agent Smith – “We’re willing to wipe the slate clean, give you a fresh start. All that we’re asking in return is your cooperation in bringing a known terrorist to justice.”
Neo – “Yeah. Well, that sounds like a pretty good deal. But I think I may have a better one. How about, I give you the finger”
[He does]
Neo -“ …and you give me my phone call.”

In Eastern countries, the tone is often considerably different. Elders are supposed to be revered not dismissed. The words ‘guru,’ meaning a teacher, and the philosophy of dharma, loosely translated to mean ‘duty,’ come from here. In Eastern cultures humility and respect are more important than confidence.

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These perspectives are generalizations, but it shows how the confidence debate goes back deep into our culture. I think that both extremes of pure confidence or pure humility are misguided. Instead of rectifying this situation by simply blending the two: becoming somewhat humble, somewhat confident all the time, I believe the answer is to know when to be confident and when to be humble.

Humble Confidence – Know When to Use It

I’m going to make another broad generalization. I believe that virtually every relationship you are going to have is going to fit into one of two major archetypes, either master or student. In peer relationships this master/student role may switch frequently, but it is extremely rare that the relationship never leans to one side.

In the master role, you are displaying confidence to get what you want. This is public speaker, leader or seducer. Being the master has advantages. You have more control and ability to influence from this role.

The student role is the opposite. You are intentionally displaying humility. This is the student, disciple or follower. Being the student has advantages too. You can learn a lot more in this role and are more likely to win the trust of the other person.

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Know When to Shut Up and Learn

If you are a typical Westerner, you are probably already thinking about which role you prefer. Being the leader is great. You get respect and a higher status. Most of all you get a greater degree of control.

But the problem is that you can’t and shouldn’t always try to be the leader. Trying to assume that role without the skills, resources or status to back it up will lead to conflict. More importantly, there are many times when you purposely want to display humility. Some of the benefits to the student role include:

  • You learn more.
  • Smooths relationships.
  • Makes others more willing to lend a helping hand.

Knowing when taking the humble route is to your advantage. It is far easier to get mentors and advisors if you use humility rather than arrogance. A small sacrifice to your ego can open up the potential to learn a lot.

Confidence to Persuade, Humility to Learn

In reality almost no relationship is as clearly defined as master/student. Within our connections, people have overlapping areas of expertise. I might be an expert in blogging to a non-blogger, but they might be an expert in finance. In each area there are different roles to take.

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Before any interaction ask yourself what the purpose is. Are you trying to learn or persuade?

Persuasion requires confidence. If you are trying to sell, instruct or lead you need to display the confidence to match your message. But learning requires humility. You won’t learn anything if you are constantly arguing with your professors, mentors or employers. Taking a dose of humility and temporarily making yourself a student gives you the opportunity to absorb.

Persuade Less, Learn More

Persuasion is great for immediate effect, but learning matters over the long-haul. Instead of washing over all your communication with pure confidence, look for opportunities to learn. Persuading someone to follow you may give you an immediate boost of satisfaction, but it doesn’t last. Learning, however, is an investment for the future.

Whenever I make a connection with someone and realize they have a skill or understanding I want, I am careful to express humility in that area. That means listening with what they say even if I don’t immediately agree and being patient with their response. This method often drastically cuts down the time I need to spend on trial and error to learn by myself.

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Confidence/Humility Doesn’t Replace Communication Skills

This approach of selectively using confidence and humility for different purposes doesn’t replace communication skills. Humility isn’t going to work if the other person thinks you’re an irritating whiner. Confidence won’t work if the entire room thinks you are an arrogant jerk. Knowing how to display these two qualities takes practice.

The next time you are about to enter into an interaction ask yourself why you are doing it. Are you trying to persuade or learn? Depending on which you can take a completely different tact for far better results.

Featured photo credit: BBH Singapore via unsplash.com

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