Attitude is Contagious

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Attitude is everything.

We all know that’s true, but often our awareness is focused on the other person’s negative attitudes. I frequently have to remind myself hear clients say something along the lines of, “If only so-and-so in my life/family/office would have a better attitude, then everything would be just fine [insert exasperated sigh here].”

Too often, we underestimate the power of our positive attitude to influence the attitudes of others.

Ever been in a bad mood, and your mood was lifted when your spouse thanked you for the errand you took care of, your best friend called you up to share a laugh, or a child gave you a big hug for no reason? If so, you can appreciate how other people’s positive attitudes can affect yours.

The million-dollar question becomes: how can you channel your own attitude into affecting others?

Humor. Tap into your own resources of corny jokes or clever comebacks to help alleviate a companion’s bad mood. Helping someone see the lighter side of a situation can really help lighten a dour mood.

With grumpy kids, ignoring is often the best way to veer off the grumpiness road. When I say ignore, I don’t mean apathy. I mean separating their bad attitude from yours, not allowing it to affect you.

Imagine surfing the waves of torment (theirs, not yours). 

You stay up on the surfboard, enjoy the view, 

be sure not to fall into the water.

For example, your grouchy teenager asks for a snack in a tone of voice that you, uh, less than appreciate. You could snap back. Or you could harness your own positive attitude and respond in a cheerful, or at least ‘normal’ tone. This accomplishes several things. First, you don’t add any fuel to the fire. Their bad attitude will only gather strength if you respond in kind.

By ignoring it and being cheerful and unflappable, your teenager won’t have yet another reason to persist in his grumpiness. Second, you’ll be modeling patience and skills to help them learn how to deal with grumpy people in their own lives. Third, it actually uses less energy in the long-run to remain patient and pleasant than to freak out.

Yet another tool is the “preemptive attack.” If you know that you are going into a situation that has caused bad moods, heated exchanges, or just a general overall sense of “yuck,” take action before the bad feelings starts. Look for the good. Tell everyone else how much you appreciate how everyone is working together (yes, even before they start). With your positive attitude, you are re-shifting the focus and setting the tone.

Try it and see if you can tap into your own good attitude.

It’s contagious.

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