Work Attitudes

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Most of us, when asked, would prefer not to be working. We have an underlying attitude that work is not something we do because we want to, but because we have to. 

Some of us tell ourselves we have to work because we need to get paid, because we need to pay our bills or because we need to be seen as successful in life. 


There are so many reasons why we work.  Most of them don’t start with, because I love it and I’m good at it. 

But what if it did? What if we had a positive attitude towards our work and got up every day because we wanted to, not because we felt we had to. 

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What is an attitude?

In psychology, an attitude refers to a set of emotions, beliefs, and behaviours toward a particular object, person, thing, or event. Attitude is made up of your values, beliefs and can form a mindset, positive or negative. “Attitude is a chosen state of mind that results in an action taken or an emotion displayed.”

Attitude, in the end, is a motivator or that which generates or reflects motives. An attitude is a critical element of mindset, powerful and enabling.

A positive attitude will result from your values, beliefs and overall mindset around certain things being in full alignment. 

When you are out of alignment, negative attitudes often result, i.e. you don’t believe in a certain thing, it does not align with our values and what you believe in, so you might have negative or limiting thoughts about it, and as a result, you start to think negatively about it, and as a result, your behaviour will often become negative and have detrimental consequences. 

Negative attitudes and bad moods are like cancer; they can quickly grow and kill motivation and successful outcomes.

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How attitude affects behaviour

Our attitude towards the things we do directly impacts how we behave. If we have a positive attitude, we are likely to act in ways that support positive behaviour and create positive outcomes. 

If we have a negative or liming attitude, we are likely to operate in negative or limiting ways and be challenged at every step of the way. In other words, we often will experience a world of pain. 

Attitudes (either positive or negative) have an impact not just on the individual with the attitude,  but also the people with who they interact, the people in their environments. 

I’m sure we have all worked closely with someone who came to work in a bad mood which resulted in negativity towards the things you had to do. Perhaps they spoke venom and acted in ways that made your day more and more challenging as it waned on. It is likely by the end of that day, you experienced a negative state of mind also. If this continued day in day out, you would potentially see the bad mood as an attitude. If you weren’t careful, this attitude could easily rub off on you and those around you.

In the work and business environments, attitude is everything. And something we must all be aware of. How many of us have experienced a customer service representative in a coffee shop, retail store or any business really that has been in a lousy mood and given you a poor experience as a result. Did you want to go back to this business?

A bad attitude has negative ripple effects that can result in lasting impacts. In contrast, a positive attitude, otherwise known as a positive state of mind enables us to direct our thinking and ways of being to access resourceful parts of our brains to think in supportive ways.

A negative attitude shuts us off from those productive states of mind we need in order to achieve our success.  The trouble comes when we aren’t consciously aware of our negative attitudes. 

Attitude can easily be likened to undiagnosed cancer, one that’s operating unnoticed. 

It’s incredible how many people in business or leadership roles act out of negative attitudes yet think they are in positive states. They often find themselves wondering why things aren’t working and why their team isn’t performing. 

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For our work to be productive and us to be working at optimal performance levels, we need a positive attitude towards our work. A positive attitude is a mix of Positive thinking, Constructive thinking, Creative thinking, Optimism and Positive Energy to do things and accomplish goals. A positive attitude is a key ingredient to personal and professional success & happiness. The best workplace leaders, lead by example.

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Working with Emotional Intelligence 

The term emotional intelligence was coined by Daniel Goleman, an American psychologist. 

We all are unique in our different ways in that we possess diverse personalities, wants and needs. Coping with these uniquenesses requires discretion and skill – especially if we hope to succeed in life. This is where emotional intelligence comes in.

Emotional intelligence is the ability to recognise our emotions, understand what they are communicating to us, and realise how our emotions affect ourselves and the people around us. It involves our perception of others – understanding how others feel allows us to manage relationships more effectively.

In his book, “Emotional Intelligence – Why It Can Matter More Than IQ” 1995, Daniel Goleman, developed a framework of five elements that define emotional intelligence:

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  1.   Self-Awareness – People with high emotional intelligence are usually very self-aware. They are confident, understand their emotions, trust their intuitions and never allow their emotions to get the best of them. They also understand their strengths and weaknesses, and they work on these areas to perform better. Many people believe that this self-awareness is the most critical part of emotional intelligence.
  2.   Self-Regulation – This is the ability to control your emotions and instincts. People who self-regulate usually don’t allow themselves to become overly angry or jealous and they don’t make rash, careless decisions. They think things through before they act. Characteristics of self-regulation are thoughtfulness, comfort with change, integrity, and the ability to say no.
  3.   Motivation – This is the hallmark of people with a high degree of emotional intelligence. They are highly motivated and willing to defer immediate results for long-term success. Also, they are highly productive, love a challenge, and are very effective in whatever they do.
  4.   Empathy – This is a key element of emotional intelligence. Empathy is the ability to identify with and understand the needs, wants, and perspectives of those around you. People with empathy are good at identifying the feelings of others, even when those feelings may not be obvious. They are usually excellent at managing relationships, listening, and relating to others. They are without bias or judging people too quickly and are very open and honest.
  5.   Social Skills – Having good social skills is another mark of people with high emotional intelligence. They are typically team players that often help others develop and shine at their own expense. They are outstanding disputes managers, excellent communicators, and masters at building and maintaining relationships.

Emotional intelligence can be the key to success in your life – especially in your career. Managing people and relationships are very important in all leaders, so developing and using your emotional intelligence can be a good way to demonstrate good leadership.

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How to Improve Your Emotional Intelligence

Just like any other skill, emotional intelligence can be learned and developed. In addition to working on your skills in the five key areas identified above, use the following strategies:

  • Consider your reactions to people. Do you rush to judgment before you know all of the facts? Do you stereotype? Look honestly at how you think and interact with other people. Try to put yourself in their shoes, and be more open and accepting of their perspectives and needs.
  • Consider your work environment. Do you seek attention for your actions? Do you give others a chance to shine – put the focus on them, and don’t worry too much about getting praise for yourself? Being humble is a great quality, and it doesn’t mean that you are shy or lack self-confidence. When you practice humility, you say that you know what you did, and you can be quietly confident about it.
  • Do a self-evaluation. What are your weaknesses? Are you willing to accept that you are not perfect and that you could work on some areas to make yourself a better person? Be courageous enough to assess yourself honestly – it can be life-changing.
  • Examine how you react to stressful situations. The ability to stay calm and in control in difficult situations is highly valued – both in the business world and outside it. Do you blame others or become angry at them, even when it’s not their fault? Do you become upset every time there is a delay or something doesn’t happen the way you want? Keep your emotions under control when things go wrong.
  • Take responsibility for your actions. If you hurt someone’s feelings, apologise directly – don’t pass the buck and ignore what you did or avoid the person. People are usually more willing to forgive and forget if you make an honest attempt to make things right.
  • Consider the impact of your actions on others. Before you act, examine how your actions will affect others. If your decision will impact others, put yourself in their place – how will you feel if the roles were reversed? Would you want that experience? If you must take action, how can you help others deal with the effects?

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Emotional intelligence is key to relating well to others and achieving your goals. Many people believe that it is at least as important as regular intelligence, and many businesses now use emotional intelligence testing to hire new staff.

Emotional intelligence is an awareness of your actions and feelings – and how they affect those around you. It also means that you value others, listen to their wants and needs, and are able to identify with them on many different levels.

This entire program you’ve been actively working on your emotional intelligence. You’ve drawn on your feelings based self to understand what has and hasn’t worked, with yourself and others. 

You’ve used the findings to rationalise, reflect and redirect more efficient and effective ways of working. 

You are using your experimental self to design new ways to support you in achieving your goals. We now want to dig a little deeper into how to optimise yourself to explore ways you can do your work better.

Something that we have circled back to a few times over this course is your focus. Your focus (how you direct your thinking and resulting behaviours) will determine what you do with your time. 

Time is the currency we can’t cash in on, the resource that will eventually run out. Time is our most valuable resource, so how we use it when we are working is vital.

In the next topic, we will explore how time intelligence can support your work performance.

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