Attitude Adjustment

April, 2012

Are you experiencing feelings of frustration, irritation or indifference? Are the people around you finding you to be cranky, snippy or rude? Maybe today is a good time for an attitude check; a time to hit the “attitude reset button.” While there are some fairly complicated definitions of attitude, Jung’s for example, think about attitude as ‘how I position myself;” just as attitude is a position in ballet or of an airplane. My attitude is both mental and physical; it is my stance, how I hold myself. Your attitude fuels people’s perception of you; and if your attitude has gone sour so has their experience with you. It is a complex interrelationship that is being unbundled through today’s research of brain functioning. Daniel Goleman researches Social Intelligence and says, “Every interaction has an emotional subtext; the net balance of feelings we have exchanged largely determines what kind of day we feel we’ve had (good or bad).” This attunement to another person’s mood is driven through the amygdala, an almond-shaped area in the midbrain that triggers the fight, flight or freeze response to danger. When the amygdala is in a heightened state of alertness it increases our susceptibility to another person’s emotions which can be transferred like a contagion. Smiles are a good indication and frowns, bad. Too many frowns and I begin avoiding you; not good for you and not good for the work.
Based on the award winning work of psychologist Taibi Kahler, I would offer that attitude is driven by emotional needs; and the emotional needs are defined by one of six personality type. One of you feels like tasks are piling on faster than you can complete them; leaving you feeling overmatched and fearful of failing. Another of you senses that your ideas are not valued; your opinion doesn’t seem to count. One of you isn’t feeling the love today; you wonder why you are even there since no one seems to care. For someone else, the work has gotten boring; no surprises. Another one of you isn’t having any fun at work; no sense of playfulness. And one of you wants to be left alone; too many people around too much of the time. Each of these situations speaks to a core emotional need. When the needs are met in a healthy way, all is well. But when they are not being met it is easy to indulge emotional hurts and attitude shows it. Here is my tip for the day: a stinky attitude is all about you and it is an early indicator of some emotional need not being met. For 25% of us, we are wired to accomplish tasks. We like having “do lists” and striking items off as we complete them. However, when the “do list” grows to fast a mild state of distress sets in. An interaction with another person who is slow or disinterested in my task and frustration seeps out. I get irritated with them. Why? It is emotionally distressful missing deadlines. I hate being called out for not completing something. This is why I say, “Take heed.” Your attitude is an early indicator of your emotional health and you are accountable for the attitude you share with others. If you have been particularly cranky, you may want to consider apologizing to those around you. A good “I’m sorry” can go a long way to repair a tainted environment. Hit the reset, make amends and get back in the game.

To learn more, I posted a great video of David Goleman talking about Social Intelligence at and there is a diagnostic sheet to help you think through how you are doing…click here.

Stay well and keep adding value,

Alden B.

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