As you know, I am big on attitude! I believe in what Charles Swindoll once wrote, “I am convinced that life is 10% what happens to me, and 90% how I react to it.” Being positive or negative about any situation will have its inevitable conclusion because you’ve already framed the end result.
If you’re like most people reading this weekly column, you choose to surround yourself with positive thinkers. Your continuing success reflects that. Still, we can’t always avoid working with (or sometimes, living with) negative thinkers. Therein lies a problem: What can we do to change a person’s inherently bad attitude, in part so it doesn’t affect us? And should we 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.
One final note: 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 may want to consider constructively confronting the situation or suggesting that a manager do so. Many times, informing people of their bad attitude in a positive way (i.e., “I thought you’d want to know the impact X, Y or Z is having on the staff, because I’m confident that’s not how you meant to be perceived…”) can help influence change, simply by making them aware.
Have a great week- and remember your attitude impacts others, too! So share your positivity, and help everyone you encounter make the most of every day!