Tuesday, August 25, 2009

It's all in the Attitude


Everyone's got one. Good, bad, sarcastic, irritating, cranky, pissy, negative, positive... pick an adjective, any adjective... they're all covered. The problem is that the negative ones seem to out-weigh the positive ones in our society today. Stand in any line and wait for service anywhere and you'll see it plain as the nose on your face. Somebody (and I'm not saying it's you) is complaining about how long the line is, someone's upset about how slow it's moving, someone else is irritated at something else, and on and on....

It's contageous, actually. Misery loves company and it's an ice-breaker among strangers in a very long, and otherwise uncomfortably silent, line. It's the same on the other side of the counter too. The poor workers get abused all day long by people, when they're just there to get a very small paycheck. It's not their fault that the company didn't staff them properly in the first place and they just need to vent, so they complain to each other, the next person in line hears it and then the attitude spreads even more.

But, believe it or not, a positive attitude can be contageous as well... it's just harder to keep up for some reason. The old saying "The squeeky wheel gets the oil" stands true and it also helps us to correct what's going wrong in business. If we don't know what we're doing wrong, how can we expect improve? But how can we continue to grow in the right direction if no one tells us we're doing right? Kudos are just as important and I think people forget to give them most of the time. But if someone is doing really well in an area, don't you think it would be helpful to let them know, "hey, keep up the good work!" so they don't change what they're doing to something that's not as good? If they don't get any praise, they may think they're not doing anything right.

Back to the positives... The other day, I was in a very slow moving line at McDonalds. Apparently it had been that way for a while... and when I finally made it to the window to pay, the young woman was smiling, very energetic and she said, with humor and emphasis, "Welcome to the first window! Not many people make it this far." We both laughed, I gave her my money, she gave me my change and said, "Thank you, good luck!" I thanked her and laughing, I drove to the next window to get my food. Unfortunately the next woman was not in the same mood. The second woman was very down, was very upset at work and being so short-handed. I tried to joke with her and say at least she had good job security, but she just complained more, so I said, "Well, at least you have a job." took my food and drove off. Fortunately, the first woman's attitude was still with me and I was still giggling over her witicism and it kept me in a pretty good mood for the rest of the day.

But why does a bad mood spread quicker than a good mood? I'll walk into work in a pleasant mood, most everyone else will be in a decent mood as well... then one person... one bad apple, as they say... spoils the bunch. Why is it? Studies show it, or so I've heard, but what is it about that negative energy that's so powerful that the other surrounding positive energy gets morphed... transformed... warped into the negative? Why can't the happy people snuf out the negative person's negative energy and turn them around? "Hey why so mad? why so sad? why so glum? what's so wrong, so upsetting? etc... here, let us help you!"

AH HA! Eureka!

Maybe that's the key! I think that could be what's wrong... why the negative spreads quicker... because the positive people stay quiet... they don't help... they're ashamed of being happy... or don't want to "get involved"... don't want to bring attention to themselves and bring the wrath of the upset person down upon themselves. So, everyone stays quiet, and the guilt allows the misery to take over. Bingo! The Devil's gotcha!

So, now what do you do? Have a meeting at work? Decide to be strong on your own? Pray for strength every day? Talk to the other positive people in your close network of coworker/friends? Well, why not all of the above? One step at a time.

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