HR Blog

Is Your ‘Check Attitude’ Light On?

By Dee Yingst

Your attitude is a choice, be sure to choose wisely.

Happy November! With the Thanksgiving season upon us, it’s a great time to ask ourselves if we have an ‘attitude of gratitude’ or if we are just moving through life oblivious to the world around us. 

Recently, I attended a sales presentation and walked up to introduce myself to the speaker. I extended my hand and remarked that he and I have been working in the same circles for some 30 (!) years but have never really had an opportunity to work together. He shook my hand and said, “Dee Yingst! You have a great reputation!” I thanked him and replied that I’d worked hard to achieve and maintain that reputation and I appreciated that he noticed. We reminisced about days past and parted ways looking forward to finally working together.

That led me to think about the ways in which we all move through our lives impacting others, even when we don’t directly interact with them.  How do we want others to see us or remember us?  Certainly none of us can truly control how someone else decides to see us, but we can control how we “show” ourselves.  Are we showing our ‘attitude of gratitude’ or are we just going from one task to the other, not acknowledging the world around us? It’s not rocket science, it’s about being humble, being grateful, and showing kindness to others.

It really comes down to this:  it costs nothing to be a decent human being. 

Decent human beings…

...are genuine. That’s harder than it sounds because it starts with being comfortable with who you are. That doesn’t mean you aren’t looking to improve or change things about yourself, we should always be looking to grow. It’s really just about being “real” and you can’t be real to others if you aren’t “real” to yourself.  Nobody likes a fake. 

…don’t judge. It’s important to keep an open mind and really listen to what someone is saying. Part of being a good listener is to listen without judgment. Try to see things from a perspective other than your own. Keeping an open mind doesn’t mean keeping it so open that your brain falls out – it just means that you’re withholding your opinion/judgment until you’ve truly heard the individual and attempted to see through their lens. Try not to take someone’s reactions personally, you never know what else is going on in their life. It’s ok to disagree, just don’t be disagreeable. 

…are not desperate attention-seekers. If it’s someone else’s turn to shine, let them. Don’t step on their spotlight desperate to redirect the attention back to yourself. This is especially true if you’re a manager – let your people shine and don’t cast a shadow on them. I have told every team I’ve ever led, if there’s blame to be had it’s mine, if there’s praise to be had it’s theirs. I have no need to step on their spotlight.

…greet and/or acknowledge others with sincerity. Is it really that hard to say “Good morning, [insert name here]”?  Know your coworkers names and use them. Say hello. When you ask ‘how are you?’ be prepared to take a minute to actually hear the answer.  Don’t avert your eyes when you walk past someone; acknowledge them. You don’t have to throw them a parade, a simple ‘hello’ will do.

…are careful not just with what they say, but how they say it. Your tone matters. Your body language matters. If your words say “what’s wrong?” but your tone says “what’s wrong with you now?” you’re asking two very different questions.  Sometimes silence is the better part of valor; if you can’t be nice then be quiet.

None of this means we have to like each other; it means we have to find a way to work together.  We need to try to see beyond just the “coworker” to the person underneath, remembering that this person with whom you work is a human being deserving of a certain level of decorum.  We’re all on this journey together.  The least we can do is be nice to each other.  Your reputation is going to precede you, make it a good one.