Happy Monday! I bet many of you are just coming back from a long holiday weekend. I hope you enjoyed your 4th of July as much as I did. Not it’s time to get back to work.
As I travel and meet all kinds of people in the workplace, I am often asked if you can change someone’s attitude. We know we can change our own attitude any time we wish. But what about others? While you may choose to surround yourself with positive thinkers, you can’t always avoid working with (or sometimes, living with) negative thinkers. Therein lies a problem: What can you do to change a person’s inherently bad attitude, in part so it doesn’t affect you? And should you try? Here are a few observations that can help:
- People are who they are. Like spouses or children, they don’t “change” because you will it. So exerting your influence and expecting the response you want is foolhardy at best and potentially disastrous for your relationship at worst.
- Try to empathize, even a little. Remember: Life is not fair, and it can
be harder on some than others. People who feel defeated or alone in the world still have to wake up each morning and eke out a living like the rest of us. We don’t have to know the exact reasons behind their troubles to see the cloud that surrounds them at work, and to pause a moment and wish that weren’t so – for their sakes more than ours.
- Reach out as you’re able. Make an effort to connect and be friendly – more than once, if need be. People with poor attitudes tend to be protective and distrusting – and may not initially welcome your friendship, perhaps because they fear there are “strings” attached. Be gentle in your persistence. It’ll reinforce your sincerity, likely earning their trust and a better attitude in the process.
When a person’s bad attitude cannot be tempered by the above methods, yet still needs to be addressed for the benefit of the workplace, you need to consider constructively confronting the situation. Many times, informing people of their bad attitude in a positive way (i.e., “I thought you’d want to know the impact that X, Y or Z is having on the rest of the department, because I’m confident that’s not how you meant to be perceived…”) can help influence change. Ask yourself, “Is their attitude a daily event or due to behind-the-scenes circumstances?”
Have a great week.