January 16, 2019

Using Your Attitude in the Workplace to Get Ahead and Foster Happiness

I am unapologetically Texan. Born and raised in the Lone Star state, I have never felt like the lone star with all the “Mornin’s” I’ve gotten from complete strangers on any given day. Even in my big beautiful city, you can still see gentlemen wearing straw cowboy hats and habitually taking them off when they enter a restaurant or church. It’s challenging sometimes to tell what kind of attitude is behind that “Mornin” greeting because there’s a level of automaticity that was reached years ago as shaped by Texan culture. Regardless of knowing what kind of mood the person is in that’s providing the greeting, it still feels good on the other end to be greeted.

So Dunking Boothers, think about this: do your words portray your attitude? Do you think about the words you say and the WAY you say them? As I’ve stated in past blogs, perception changes attitude, and attitude portrays your calling card. Whether you are happily employed, miserably employed, or looking to be noticed, your attitude is transparent whether you think it is or not. John Maxwell said it best: “People may hear your words, but they feel your attitude.”  I remember being made to read Maxwell’s book The 21Irrefutable Laws of Leadership: Follow Them and People Will Follow You when I became an educational administrator, and I thank my former boss whole-heartedly for that “forced” assignment.

Consider your attitudes in your current job: if you’re happily employed – overall you enjoy your tasks and the people you work with – do you portray that happiness with a fake smile or a genuine demeanor of satisfaction? Ask yourself, “Does my boss know that I’m satisfied in my work?”  If you’re one of the lucky few who truly enjoys your job, then why not portray that through your attitude each day? Display your thankfulness through your attitude – greeting others and asking them about their families, thanking your boss for a specific opportunity that was thrown your way, showing appreciation for being appreciated. Bosses will recognize demonstrative acts of appreciation and hold on tight to you….or better, recognize additional capabilities that you hold and move you up the food chain.

If you’re miserably employed, sit down in a quiet spot and think about your attitude at work. What are the variables that contribute to this unhappy work environment? Consider the following:
  • Am I able to apply the skills and gifts that I am good at?
  • Do I appreciate and respect my boss even when we don’t agree?
  • Is there opportunity for growth?
  • Am I working hard for a small paycheck, living month-to-month?
  • Do I enjoy the people / location / hours / climate of the environment?
  • Does everyone at work seem to enjoy the job but me?

If you answered “yes” to that last question, go back to the first question: are you unhappy in your situation because you’re not able to use your skills and gifts that you were trained or educated in? If you have constant conflict with your boss or other co-worker, what steps have you taken to remedy this conflict? The Conflict Resolution Fairy is not going to just fly in and fix a problem; at some point one person is going to have to approach the other and start a possibly-uncomfortable conversation. But it’s better than sitting still and letting the ball-throwers line up to your dunking booth to throw.

If you’re in a good climate, using your skills, paying the bills, is it your attitude toward having to work in general? Think long and hard and ask yourself, “Is it ME?” If it is, stop frettin’ (as an unapologetically Texan would say) and do one more exercise: write out your schedule for a typical work day, starting with the moment you wake up in the morning and get ready to when you arrive at work, to each sub-task you may have on any given day, to your commute home. Then, look at each item on your schedule carefully. Try to determine at what point you start to feel unhappy at work. Is it when a specific task must be done, or does it start right when you get in the parking lot? If it’s task-related, consider other ways to complete the task, delegate it, or get it done first-thing so you can spend the rest of your day with it off your plate. Or better, work harder and alter your attitude to promote up – you may stop having to do that task after promotion!

If this unhappy attitude starts before you even arrive at work, look at home variables and ask yourself if you feel unhappy leaving your family/children, if you have the financial opportunity to work part-time or take a break, or if you feel like there are additional factors behind career unhappiness that go deeper than just work. If so, have conversations with spouses, parents, and professionals to determine a path of support.

It’s important to feel a sense of happiness and self-worth at work. Happy workers create a happy climate which increases productivity and growth for all stakeholders. There are so many studies to support this claim, but the bottom line is you owe it to yourself to put out your gifts and training into the universe in a way that justifies why you went into your field in the first place. Contentment in your career makes it worthwhile to climb into your dunking booth every single day and face each ball head-on with an attitude of “I signed up for this. Bring it.” Who knows? One of those ball-throwers may just tell you “Mornin” and walk on by.

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