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Your Attitude is Showing

Increasing Communication through Understanding Attitudes

A significant challenge for leaders can be pulling together a cohesive, high performing team whose members show respect, support, and empathy for each other. Consider that today’s workforce is a medley of diversity. One’s cultural background can greatly influence outlook, self esteem, manner of thinking, speaking and reacting – all of which translate into attitude. Ted Koppel is quoted as saying, “We see the same events through different lenses. We live in the same country, but in different worlds.”

And don’t forget the impact of age on difference of opinion and how well people get along.  Nowadays we have the full gamut of maturity in the business world, from those just out of high school to the ubiquitous baby boomers. Talk about varied viewpoints!

Internal Preferences

An attitude can be an opinion, a life value, a mindset, a way of judging, or a habit of thought. It’s one’s world view or way of looking at reality.  So many factors shape the attitudes which reside in our subconscious only to be manifested by behavior. Researchers tell us these beliefs or values are developed in stages from childhood to adulthood, and are related to stimuli such as conflict, stress or even pain.  Attitudes can also come into being through feelings of pleasure, satisfaction and joy.  One occurrence alone usually will not shape an attitude. Multiple experiences around the same situation, however, will cluster together in our mind and evolve into an attitude. Too, social factors – upbringing, life experiences, and learning – shape our opinions and values.

Moreover, attitudes influence the way we think, behave, and communicate; they often set the purpose and direction of our life. And while we tend to enjoy conversations and activities with people with whom we share similar outlooks and values, unfortunately we tend to conflict with people of differing attitudes.

This conflict can’t be avoided, but it can be minimized by understanding how to clearly see other’s points of view. Once we learn to perceive the world from their perspective—know their values—we can improve communication with others.

Understanding Our Differences

Attitudes are described as the “why” of our actions because they drive us to act in a certain way.  These drivers are classified into six areas of value:

  • Theoretical
  • Utilitarian
  • Aesthetic
  • Social
  • Individualistic
  • Traditional

Let’s look at a simplistic example of how attitudes and the six areas of value listed above impact workplace interaction.

The budget committee is told it has a specific amount of money available to be allocated as its members think best. The chairperson wants to devote the funds to training and hopefully moving staff to a higher level of performance. Another leader desires to pour the cash back into the business and seek ever-higher profits. A third person wants to use the amount for improving the firm’s reception area. Another person believes the money should be spent on a publicized event which celebrates the business and how well it is doing. Still another individual proposes using the funds philanthropically to raise the company’s status in the community. The remaining member of the budget committee proposes putting the money aside “for a rainy day,” letting it sit unused in the budget.

Each person in this group is influenced by an underlying attitude or value. Each one is guided internally by something different from the others on the committee. Can they work together? Yes, people of varying attitudes can collaborate without conflict as long as they suspend judgment and seek to understand one another. Communication—asking and truly listening—will lead to knowledge and recognition of where the other person is coming from.

Your Attitude is Showing

Carol Carlan, CEO of Carlan Consulting, LLC facilitates the seminar Your Attitude is Showing, designed to help people communicate better. It focuses on helping individuals clearly see how they view the world, and what values drive their life, actions and decisions. They learn how to look at the world through someone else’s eyes, recognize the driving forces in others’ lives and understand those perspectives. And with that insight comes tolerance of differing attitudes, along with respect for the individual’s point of view. The end result is being able to dialogue convincingly, avoid conflict and improve relationships.

In today’s world, the different personalities, diverse cultures and age span in the workplace translate into contradictory opinions and life views. We must seek to identify, understand and show appreciation for how attitudes shape people and influence interactions. Successful communication relies upon this knowledge.

For more information or to book a class, seminar, or engagement, please email us.