Choose Your Attitude is one of the 4 core pillars of the FISH! Philosophy, and is perhaps the one that requires the most personal reflection in order to really internalize. To Choose Your Attitude is to be aware of your emotions and to make the conscious decision to alter your behavior in a way that better suits the situation at-hand.
The FISH! Philosophy recognizes that every situation is unique, and choosing your attitude is not meant to prescribe a particular attitude or behavior at any given moment (c’mon, do any of us react positively when someone tells us to “just stay positive”?!). Fundamentally, choosing your attitude is about practicing mindfulness: recognizing that we’re feeling a certain way, that those feelings are likely externalized via our outward behavior and demeanor, and that this behavior affects both others’ perceptions of us as well as our perceptions of ourselves, and that these are often re-internalized in a way that further alters our mood and our attitudes.
This cycle of emotions and behavior is why it can be so effective to make conscious adjustments to our attitudes in accordance with any given situation, but that’s easier said than done, right? So here are 4 tips to help you Choose Your Attitude in the workplace consciously and effectively:
Listen to (and question) your inner voice
Emotions are fundamentally biological in nature. Fear is a response to danger and adrenaline. Happiness is a response to dopamine, etc, etc. Basically, emotions are the body’s natural response to external stimuli, and that’s something over which we have very little control. However, what we can control is how we interpret and respond to these emotions.
For every emotional stimuli we take in, we filter it through a complex web of personal history, motivations, preferences, pre-existing knowledge, context, and far more. This often seems to happen instantaneously, to the point where many of us don’t realize that it’s the second step in the emotional process–we just assume it’s part of the biological response.
But what happens when we respond to emotional stimuli with full awareness that it’s being filtered through our inner voice? By taking a step back and attempting to observe neutrally the emotions we’re experiencing, we’re in a better position to shift how we respond to them. By being aware of this inner voice, we can make conscious decisions as to how much the emotions we’re experiencing fit the situation at hand, how we’d like to respond, and what our outward behavior and attitude looks like.
Know your goals and your attitude will follow
Often, coming into a workplace with an attitude not conducive to being productive is a function of not knowing what exactly productivity means. When we’re able to start a day (or enter a meeting, or even open a spreadsheet) with a particular goal in mind, that gives us a North Star to guide our actions and our behavior. These goals can be immediate (“I want to leave this meeting with an answer to question X”) or long-term (“I want to leave this meeting having reinforced positive relationships with my coworkers”), and we–of course–can hold multiple goals simultaneously.
Once we define our goals, we can then work backwards to choose our attitudes–rather than nebulously saying “how do I want to feel today?” we can ask ourselves “what behavior will help me achieve this goal? How do I need to feel internally in order to manifest this behavior?” And returning to these goals throughout the day can help us realign our attitudes repeatedly to keep us on target for success.
Choose a “growth”attitude
Part of choosing your attitude is having the skills to know that you can define and control the attitude you have, but that’s not the whole story. The next part of this core pillar is being able to identify and choose the most effective attitude for the situation you’re in. We mentioned before that the FISH! Philosophy does not advocate for any particular attitude, but we encourage whichever attitude you adopt to come from a Growth mindset whenever possible.
A growth attitude is one that recognizes our inherent ability to learn, to improve, to tackle new challenges, and to grow rather than stagnate and hold ourselves back. It’s not about naively saying “I can do literally anything,” but it is about recognizing that we don’t know our own limits until we push them and that there’s no benefit in preemptively denying ourselves the opportunity to prove what we can accomplish.
Growth attitudes are correlated with improved engagement, increased flexibility in the workplace, and a willingness to try new paths to success, even if they don’t always work out, all of which are core goals of the FISH! Philosophy!
Interrogate your assumptions about others
An “attitude” is a nebulous concept. It’s not just an internal feeling; it’s how our emotions (and our interpretations of those emotions) manifest themselves both internally and externally. An attitude is something you feel, yes, but it’s also something that can be observed by others. And if we want to get along and collaborate effectively with our coworkers, we need to understand how they affect our attitude and vice-versa.
If a coworker is being a pain or working with them is full of friction, it’s easy to adopt a negative attitude in response. But that need not always be the case: What if, instead of assuming the worst about their motivations or their own attitudes, we interrogated our own assumptions and treated them with care and empathy? We may discover that they’re doing their best, that they have stressors unknown to us, or are coming from a different point of view. We may not always be best friends with every person, but by approaching difficult interactions with a sense of openness and extending grace, we can find common ground and work together effectively.
Ideas to Reflect On:
- How do you naturally respond to emotional stimuli? Consider practicing taking a step back and just observing how your own mind processes various emotional inputs.
- When you Choose Your Attitude, are you choosing an attitude that includes a growth mindset, or are you adopting an attitude that presumes failure or incapability?
- What assumptions are we making about others that we may not even realize? Are we extending compassion and empathy to our coworkers in the same way we hope they’d extend to us?
Whether you work in business, education, or healthcare, FISH! offers accessible, intuitive solutions to empower your workers, bring your team together, and introduce Play into your organization. We invite you to contact us today at 800.695.4534 or firstname.lastname@example.org to speak with our cultural specialists, who will help you find the right FISH! Philosophy solutions that will nurture your organizational culture and motivate your team!
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