Attitudes are the very essence of an individual’s relative success or failure on a human relationship basis. In most cases, someone with a bad attitude will struggle much harder for success at almost every level than someone with a good attitude. That being the case, we must understand what an attitude is, how it manifests itself and how others may perceive it.
One dictionary definition of an attitude is this: “A complex mental state involving beliefs, feelings, values and dispositions to act in certain ways.” Or put another way, an attitude is the way we exhibit our feelings and concerns about something we strongly believe in. The issue is not so much the fact that we have strong feelings about certain things. The problem is that when we feel challenged, we might react in a way that is repugnant to others, causing them to react negatively to us. Most of us have a bad attitude from time to time. However, when we maintain an attitude that others find socially or emotionally unacceptable, our attitude becomes our personal brand. At that point, we become THAT person…” the one with the perennially bad attitude”.
When individuals begin to say things about us such as, “I don’t like his attitude” or “she is a good worker but she has a bad attitude,” the time has come for us to consider whether our attitude is working for us or if, perhaps we should consider changing it.
Many of us hang on to bad attitudes as a defense mechanism. Just as some people are known for a loud laugh or a quick temper, others are known for a bad attitude. Just as those people who laugh too loud when they find something funny or get angry immediately that they feel threatened, others exhibit a distant, dark, unfriendly or aloof attitude when a certain stimulus invades their mind. When those unapproachable, standoffish or superior people are faced with a situation that makes them uncomfortable they immediately adopt their well-nurtured attitude in order to avoid the situation or to repel those who might make them even more uncomfortable.
Most people with bad attitudes are not truly bad human beings. They are simply people who have trouble reacting in a universally palatable manner in some situations. When faced with an uncomfortable situation, the area of the brain that controls the neural pathways that form external responses in these people sets up an irresistible need to exhibit an outward presentation that will protect them from harm. So deeply are these responses ingrained in the minds of these people that without even thinking, they will almost automatically exhibit a bad attitude whenever they sense or expect discomfort. They have little or no control at that point and the only way that they will ever be able to overcome their bad attitude response is through deliberate and consistent self-awareness and self-actualization. They will need to retrain their brains to allow a better response; (a good attitude).
The bad attitude response might be a result of past situations that the person found negative and emotionally hurtful. They might often find themselves thinking negative self-talk. Some of that self-talk might include thoughts such as, “I am not good enough; I can’t do this; they don’t like me, they don’t respect me; I don’t want to be here,” or any number of other things that people feel when put into situations where they might lack confidence. When the bad attitude has been part of their behaviour make-up for a very long time, they will no longer need to experience the negative self talk in order to respond negatively. The situation alone will be adequate to set off the negative behaviour response.
Negative attitudes can also be triggered by fear, hatred, envy, jealousy, distrust and a myriad of other stimuli. Those attitudes however, are usually confined to a specific source of discomfort and only rear their heads when an individual encounters something that they immediately find truly distasteful, frightening or unacceptable. Many people often exhibit a very good attitude most of the time and only show a bad attitude when confronted with an unusually unnerving situation.
Those people who have a generally bad attitude and want to do something about it must firstly accept that their attitude is impacting those around them and that it is harming their personal growth and development in one way or another. Many people spend a good deal of time thinking and saying things like, “I don’t need anyone else; You don’t have to like me to work with me; As long as I do my job my attitude shouldn’t matter,” and various other ideas that justify their negative attitudes. Before any improvement can begin, those people must accept that a huge part of every good work or personal relationship is a compatible, flexible and generally acceptable attitude.
When a person has finally come to the conclusion that they need to change their attitude, they must accept that it might take hard work and that it will not happen overnight. They should consult with those around them in order to find out what it is about them that others do not like. They should ask co-workers, bosses, friends and family members how they truly are perceived and then listen to the responses without interruption. They need to keep an open mind and allow their ego’s to take a back seat as they hear some potentially very hurtful information about themselves. Only people who genuinely want to change will make it past this step.
If they make it past the ego-damaging last step, they must make a commitment to themselves to do something else. Essentially, when they feel their brain telling them to react in a negative fashion, they need to do the opposite. Instead of frowning, they need to smile. Instead of whining they need to cheer. Instead of being aloof they need to show engagement. These changes in presentation and thought seldom happen immediately, but when a person makes a decision to improve and works hard at it, success and happiness usually follow shortly thereafter.
Do you have a bad attitude? Do something about it now!
Do you know someone with a bad attitude? Do something about it, by talking to them and letting them know that you are there to listen and help in any way you can.
All the Best
Many studies now indicate that workplace bullying is a very real, all-too-common and incredibly harmful practice in workplaces world-wide.
Here are some shocking statistics:
- Jacqueline Power of the University of Windsor’s Odette school of business indicates that 40 percent of Canadian workers experienced one or more acts of workplace bullying at least once a week for six months prior to the study.
- In 1999, the International Labour Organization declared that workplace harassment and violence affects 75 percent of workers world-wide.
- The Workplace Bullying Institute (WBI) and Zogby International indicate that 35% of American workers experienced bullying first hand and that 62% of bullies were men. They go on to say that bullies can be found in all ranks of any organization but that managers, supervisors and executives form the majority of perpetrators.
- WBI indicated that 40 percent of the targets of bullies never report the bullying to their employers and 62% of those who did report it indicate that their reports were ignored.
- WBI reported that 81 percent of employers do nothing to address bullying or resist action when requested to do something.
Bullying leads to disengagement, poor performance and a resulting loss of revenue which reportedly runs into billions of dollars every year.
THE MAJORITY OF BULLIES ARE BOSSES:
Interestingly, most of their targets are not the new, less confident or weak employees. Instead, bosses with “Type A” (forceful, aggressive, outgoing) personalities tend to focus their bullying on highly competent, experienced, cooperative and well-liked employees. Bullies tend to see those natural leaders as threats to both their ego and status in the organization. When bullying bosses come across employees that stand their ground and refuse to be intimidated or controlled, their bullying efforts often intensify. Bullying bosses need to win and they need to control everything in their purview, to the point of actually doing harm to their own organizations in order to establish their superiority.
THE TOLL ON THOSE WHO ARE BULLIED:
People who are bullied suffer everything from stress symptoms to depression and from increased sick-leave to serious, life-threatening illness. Those symptoms can lead to reduced performance and career-damaging indolence.
SO WHAT IS BULLYING?
Bullying takes many forms but often it includes public put-downs, temper tantrums, unreasonable work demands, insults, taking credit for another’s work, threats of job-loss and discounting of accomplishments. Often, it will also include withholding of necessary information, exclusion from important meetings and general intimidation. Each of these behaviours is bad enough on its own, but when done in tandem with others, can cause serious psychological harm to the victim.
SIX THINGS A BULLIED EMPLOYEE CAN DO:
- When faced with a bullying boss, an employee can stand up for himself or herself in the hope that the bully will relent and back off. However, in the worst cases, if the bullying does not stop or actually increases, resignation might be the only cure.
- Under no circumstances should an employee actively work overtly or covertly against a bullying boss. Not only will that probably create an equal and opposite reaction which will only intensify the problem, but it will also provide the bully with a reason or an excuse for his or her bullying. It may also reflect negatively on any job-action or legal suits that the employee may wish to take in the future.
- As difficult as it may be, bullied employees should always take the high-road. They should respond politely, react passively, and ask questions in a professional manner. When feeling insulted or put-down, they should indicate that they did not understand what the bully meant by their comments and ask them to clarify. If the bully is shouting or attempting to intimidate the employee, they should ask the bully not to speak to them that way or indicate that the behaviour is inappropriate. The intent should always be to diffuse the bully rather than to retaliate in kind.
- The employee should ask to have a private meeting with the bully to discuss their differences. If the bully allows that meeting to occur, the employee should lay out his or her concerns openly, honestly and calmly. Keep in mind that when the situation gets to this point, the employee should be prepared for a negative reaction and might also consider being emotionally prepared to resign.
- All acts of bullying should be reported to the upper-echelons of the organization and legal action should be taken in the most serious of cases. Legal action should be the last resort but if the bullying is of serious significance it may be the best course of action for present and future employees.
- It must be recognized firstly that a bully is doing something wrong…Bullying is inappropriate and unacceptable. However, if you do not confront it or report it, it might never stop.
WHAT SHOULD LEADERS DO?
- Always be on the lookout for bullies in your organization.
- Take all reports of bullying seriously and investigate all reports when they occur.
- Make bullying a “zero-tolerance” violation of corporate policy.
- Let all employees at all levels know that you will not tolerate bullying and that it will result in discipline up to and including termination.
- Finally, be prepared to follow through on your bullying policy in order to maintain credibility.
ARE YOU AWARE OF BULLYING GOING ON IN YOUR ORGANIZATION? IF YOU ARE AND YOU HAVE NOT DONE ANYTHING ABOUT IT YET, NOW IS THE TIME TO PUT AN END TO IT BEFORE BULLYING DOES SERIOUS HARM TO YOUR CREDIBILITY AND YOUR TEAM.
Dynamic Leadership Inc.