In a hurry?  Well then -- here's your short version of this post: 

  • ❇️ If attitudes are contagious, will our current one likely uplift or deflate whoever might "catch" it from us??? 
  • ❇️ What attitude adjustments may be smart for us to make pronto and for the long term?
  • ❇️ Negative attitudes play a major role in creating, promoting and aggravating many of our work related and personal challenges - whether we acknowledge they do or not.
  • ❇️ Once we are genuinely honest with ourselves ABOUT ourselves then we can make the needed attitude adjustments that benefit us and all those around us.
  • ❇️ We are the architects and builders of the altitudes achieved in our success stories -- all of which are dependent on sustained good attitudes.

What Would You Do???

An impeccably dressed businessman stood in the ticket check-in line at the airport. He looked like a nice guy, but once he opened his mouth it became clear he was a nasty and foul-mouthed jerk. 

The man was sporting an obnoxiously sour attitude that poisoned anyone within earshot of his venomous air. He didn't like having to wait in the long line of boarding passengers or his assigned seat, and his words and manner of speaking to the counter attendant made that crystal clear. He talked with a demeaning tone, flung his arms impatiently, scowled at his innocent target and carried out his pathetic tantrum at a volume level sufficient for half the airport to hear.  

With the utmost professionalism and courtesy, the airline attendant never returned a cross word or even a disgusted look toward Mr. Nice Guy. Instead, he answered the disgruntled passenger's anger-filled questions calmly, thoroughly and professionally. 

When the next passenger reached the counter, she complimented the attendant on his impressive manner of handling such a ruthless, crude and extremely irritating person. 

With the same professional smile he had shown with the jerk, he responded, “Ma'am, I don't believe in getting mad ... just even. The gentlemen's destination is Atlanta, but his bags are already on their way to Hawaii.”

Don't we all know people whose luggage (and them, too!) we would love to send far away on a one-way trip? How would we have handled the above situation if we were the airline attendant in the story? 

Mini Attitude Self-Audit

We all know that attitudes come in all shapes, sizes and durations. Here are a few self-audit questions to ask ourselves when during an attitude check:

  • How many different ones do we “wear” each day? 
  • How many different ones do we see other people exhibit each day? 
  • Think of at least three people we personally know who "wear" a pretty consistently positive attitude? What about three folks who do just the opposite?
  • How recently did you feel uplifted just by being around a positive, upbeat person? Have you had a great mood instantly deflated recently when someone in a rotten mood entered the picture? 
  • Do you think a bad attitude sported by you in the last week or two may have added a negative spin or shadow to someone's day?
  • What about your positive attitudes -- how do you think they have affected others in recent times?
  • So - why all the self-audit questions? Well, first let me ask -- How often do we complain of another's bad attitude? Frequently would be the answer for most of us, even if only in the privacy of our own thoughts. And yet, how often do we stop to examine our own attitudes and how they may be affecting those around us, our work even and our decision making? The answer for most of us is probably that we are likely not taking enough time to make needed attitude adjustments when we need to the most.  And - in the midst of our 90 mph busy lives, we may not be slowing down often enough to think about how our attitudes may be affecting others.    

    The Fallout from Chronic Lousy Attitudes

    Long-term poor attitudes can create costly barriers to building personal, business and career success stories. And heaven help us when poor leaders inflict their chronically poor attitudes on those they are suppose to be leading - definitely does not lead to success stories and definitely a morale buster.

    In my long career I've had the privilege of working as a law office staff member, an attorney, mediator, risk management VP and as a law firm consultant and coach to leadership and employees.  I have witnessed firsthand and could write a lengthy book on the costly fallout directly resulting from dangerous attorney and staff attitudes and their direct and indirect link to malpractice errors, ethical violations, poor client relations, lousy office morale and high turnover rates.  Perhaps, however, it would be more useful to write a book about the positive attitudes that help us build our success stories by helping us to cope with the endless challenges within our offices. I've been blessed to witness those successful and positive office environments as well.  

    The Blessings of Great Attitudes

    One good example of the power of a good attitude is shared below and is borrowed from the medical profession from Dr. Bowen White of Kansas City, Missouri. In 1983, he founded the Department of Preventive & Stress Medicine for Baptist Medical Center in Kansas City, Missouri and the Department of Wellness and Health Promotion before leaving to pursue a private practice and a career as a consultant and speaker. You can find his many podcasts and articles pretty easily via a quick Google or Bing search.

    Dr. White's story: 

    A neurosurgeon friend of Dr. White's struggled with finding the right words to say to the terminally ill 8-year-old lad with a brain tumor. Nothing else could be done for the bright child and the neurosurgeon anguished over the best way to act around his dying and frail patient.  As he sadly entered the examining room, the little boy was standing with his back to the door. When he turned around, what appeared to be a huge elephant's trunk was attached to his nose. Before the surprised doctor could say a word, the boy said “Say Doc, I believe you forgot to warn me about all the possible side effects from the radiation!”   

    The patient had suddenly become the teacher, reminding the surgeon of the power, beauty and critical importance of possessing a positive attitude and good sense of humor no matter what the circumstances.

    Wrapping Up: Attitudes, Altitude & Success  

    So yes -- each one of us sports many different attitudes in the living of our days – some good, some not so good. What is important is that we stay closely in tune with our attitudes so that prompt and appropriate adjustments can be made when needed.   

    The success stories we are building absolutely depend on good attitudes as much as they do on our vision and planning skills, our time-saving organizational habits, professionalism, perseverance, ethical behavior, financial resources, and plain old fashion common-sense. 

    So --- If it really is true that attitudes are contagious and I believe they can be highly contagious then we need to be asking ourselves several times each day: “Is my attitude worth catching?” 

    If the answer is “No, probably not,” it's nice to know that we have the power to change our attitudes and are not dependent on others to do it for us. After all, we are the architects and builders of our own success stories and the altitudes they reach. It just makes common sense then that we should always be searching for and using the best tools and attitudes to get the job done.

    About the author 

    Nancy Byerly Jones

    Nancy Byerly Jones and her husband reside on their mountainside ranch (“Little Hee Haw Farm”) with an energetic “family” of horses, donkeys (large and miniature), dogs and cats. Their favorite pastime is sharing the joy and fun of their animals and ranch life with their family, friends and clients.

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