Is Your Attitude Worth Catching?
Margo Chevers

  

Most people agree that attitudes are contagious.  Yet, when they think about their own attitude, they don’t give much thought to how it affects the people they come into contact with.  Everyone thinks in terms of how others' attitudes affect them.

The question we should all ask ourselves is, “Is my attitude worth catching?”  We should ask ourselves anytime we are dealing with customers, co-workers, friends, family or anyone at all.

I think everyone has encountered that individual at work who from one day to the other is unpredictable.  You never know whether they’ll be in a good mood or a bad mood.  Someone in the department always checks that person out, first thing in the morning and reports back to the rest of the team.

If the person is in a good mood, everyone relaxes.

They feel free to joke with one another, they ask for help when necessary and their work productivity is at a high level.  But, the very next day that same individual can be in a bad mood and everyone immediately quiets down, stops interacting unnecessarily with team members and the productivity goes down.  All because of one person who has a poor attitude.

The whole organization can be infected by that one person’s bad attitude.  And if that happens, the customer will eventually suffer for it.

I saw this in practice a number of years ago when I was on a team that was conducting a two day customer service program for Chrysler Corp.  We did two, 2-day sessions every week for 10 weeks, so were well versed in the subject and the content of the program.  We could predict with close accuracy the reaction of the group to certain activities and exercises we would conduct.

About four to five weeks into the program we had an attendee by the name of Betty who came in and was assigned a seat in the middle of 70 other participants.  It was obvious from her demeanor that she did not want to be there.

After the first activity, the question was asked, “what did we just learn from that?”  The normal reaction was for people to shout out responses on insights they’d had.  The energy was high, the enthusiasm was evident, and the participation was almost 100 percent.

This particular day, when the question was asked, “what did we just learn from that?” the first respondent was Betty.  From the center of the room a voice shouted, “Absolutely nothing.”

The room fell silent.

After the longest two days of training I have ever conducted, the end came and Betty was the first to leave the room, practically on a run.  She threw her evaluation sheet at me.  I didn’t have to ask how she scored us.

Right behind her was a salesman who asked, “Can you throw her evaluation away?  We all know what she said.”  I told him that no, the agreement was to send them all in to headquarters.  Although I have to admit, I was sorely tempted to throw it out.

He then continued, “I have to tell you that as much as I enjoyed these past two days, and as much as I learned from you three trainers, I learned more from Betty.”

I was flabbergasted.  I asked him to explain.  He said that there were days when he was reluctant to go to work because he knew he wouldn’t get any “good customers” and consequently they wouldn’t buy any cars.  He said he also had days when he knew it would be a good day and he’d have great customers who would make a purchase.

He said that sure enough, he was always correct.  But after experiencing Betty, he saw how attitudes can affect other people.  He realized that he was the one who was the predictor of what kind of a day it would be.  He ended by saying “Attitudes are extremely contagious, aren’t they?”

I had always known that, but after having been through the experience of the past two days where one person impacted 70 other people in a major way, I learned the lesson all over again.

The lesson is, keep your attitude a positive one if you want the outcome of your dealings with other people to be positive.
   


Margo Chevers, author of the book STOP the BS (Bad Service), has been providing sales and customer service seminars to a diverse cross-section of industries for the past 19 years.  Visit her at margochevers.com. 

  
   


 
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