Passport Series: Attitude

Nelsa Uson

The purpose of OFE’s Passport is to intentionally develop the soft skills – attitude, appearance, timeliness, collaboration, adaptability, stress management and motivation – that can impact a person’s success in the workplace. A couple of weeks ago we explored adaptability.

Attitude is up next. It’s defined as the way people express their feelings about other people, tasks and ideas. We usually show this with our tone and body language. Around here we like to refer to these as “non-verbals”.

When you display a positive attitude, it really goes a long way to show you’ll be a great employee. Why? People have this unique ability to influence the energy of those around them. When you’re in a bad mood, how much quality work gets done? Now think about when you’re in a good mood. You do your work way better, right? Imagine a whole office full of negative people. It doesn’t make for a thriving work environment, and sadly all it takes is for one person’s negative energy to influence the whole room. Employers know this. Employers want to stay away from this. Which is why one of the things they pay attention to in the interview is your attitude.

What does it look like to have a positive attitude?

You have open body language. Your back is straight, not hunched over; your body’s relaxed, not tense; you’re smiling instead of looking passive or neutral. These are some ways to communicate a positive attitude. It’s easy to close yourself off when you’re feeling negative, but in the workplace it has the potential to not only impact your work, but the work of your colleagues as well, which is why it’s important to keep it in check. Smile even if you’re not feeling your best. Relax, keep your arms by your side instead of crossed. The great thing about our brain is it can be tricked into being positive if our body stays positive.

Now these days we’re not seeing a lot of people face to face, so how do you have “open body language” on the phone? The answer is with your tone. Our ability to pick up on non-verbals is really good. Some moms know right away when their children are upset just from the way they say “hello”, and many of us identify someone as “friendly” from what their voice sounds like. It’s important to keep this in mind in a phone interview. Speak clearly, but not aggressively. Smiling while you talk makes a huge difference too!

Assume responsibility for your (re)actions. This takes some practice, but it’s well worth the effort. Mentally you have to accept the consequences of your actions, or accept the fact there’s very little you can do about the situation. Both of these allow you to quickly and positively move forward to the next step. It also opens you up to the possibility of something better.

Maybe your Employment Consultant shows you a job ad that’s completely outside of your interest. Instead of getting upset and closing yourself off, take charge of your reaction. Start by keeping a smile on your face. Think back to what you learned about being adaptable and ask constructive questions instead of arguing. By keeping your cool, you can have a productive conversation that’ll benefit you and your Employment Consultant.

Surround yourself with positive people. Remember when I said people have the ability to influence the energy of those around them? That goes both ways! Give your attention to the people who have good attitudes. Be conscious of who you’re spend time with and even the kind of media you consume. If it’s not possible to separate yourself completely from negative co-workers, limit the amount of time you spend with them and consciously stop yourself from joining in on negative talk when it happens.

It’s the start of a new year, which makes it a great time to reflect on the kind of person you want to be moving forward. Not only will adjusting your attitude help with your mental health and relationships outside of work, it can also give you a leg up when looking for work, or looking to advance at work, too!