Can You Fix Bad Attitudes?

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Everybody has bad days or bad moments.

In our career seminars, we do an exercise, but the point is not to help a person find out whether they have a bad attitude. Instead, the purpose is to help each person figure out for themselves, when they have bad days or bad moments, what kind of bad attitude behavior they are most likely to display. Armed with that information, the person should be better prepared to avoid that behavior and take corrective action more swiftly when it does happen.


We take learners through a series of questions to learn about the bad mood behaviors they engage in:

  • Do you sometimes behave like a porcupine? Porcupines send the message, “Get away from me!”
  • Do you sometimes behave like an entangler? Entanglers want everybody else to be involved in their issues—they want to be noticed, observed, listened to, and engaged—even if those issues are not the concern of the person in question.
  • Do you sometimes behave like a debater? Debaters always have an argument to make, regardless of whether it is a good argument or not.
  • Do you sometimes behave like a complainer? Complainers point out the negative symptoms of a situation without offering a solution based on the root cause.
  • Do you sometimes behave like a blamer? Blamers are like complainers, pointing out negative symptoms, but blamers point the finger at a specific individual.
  • Do you sometimes behave like a stink bomb thrower? Stink bomb throwers make sarcastic (or worse) remarks, curse under their breath (or aloud), or even make loud gestures such as slamming or yelling.

Of course, even if you have bad moments or bad days, most people also have plenty of good attitude too. In our career seminars, we do another exercise—again, not to help a person find out whether they have a good attitude. This one helps people figure out for themselves, when they are at their best, what kinds of good attitude behaviors they most often display. Armed with that information, the person can try to leverage that strength with more purpose and consistency. Not only that, but the person may become aware of other good attitude behaviors they would like to add to their repertoire!

In this exercise, we take learners through a series of questions to learn about their good mood behaviors:

  • When you are at your best, are you approachable, welcoming, and professional?
  • When you are at your best, do you communicate in a highly purposeful manner—brief, straightforward, and efficient?
  • When you are at your best, do you choose your arguments carefully, and make your arguments based on clear evidence, rather than assertions of opinion?
  • When you are at your best, are you a troubleshooter, placing the focus on what steps you can take to make things better?
  • When you are at your best, do you go out of your way to make positive, optimistic, generous comments? Speak in positive tones? Make positive gestures and expressions?

When you can make attitude—good and bad—less vague and more about specific observable behaviors, it helps people become more aware and more purposeful about mitigating their negative behaviors and accentuating their positive behaviors. Make it explicit, talk about it, focus on it, and watch the attitudes get better.

About the Author

Bruce Tulgan is internationally recognized as the leading expert on young people in the workplace and one of the leading experts on leadership and management. Bruce is a best-selling author, an adviser to business leaders all over the world, and a sought-after keynote speaker and management trainer.

Since 1995, Bruce has worked with tens of thousands of leaders and managers in hundreds of organizations ranging from Aetna to Wal-Mart; from the Army to the YMCA.  In recent years, Bruce was named by Management Today as one of the few contemporary figures to stand out as a “management guru” and he was named to the 2009 Thinkers 50 rising star list. On August 13, 2009, Bruce was honored to accept Toastmasters International’s most prestigious honor, the Golden Gavel. This honor is annually presented to a single person who represents excellence in the fields of communication and leadership. Past winners have included Stephen Covey, Zig Ziglar, Deepak Chopra, Tony Robbins, Ken Blanchard, Tom Peters, Art Linkletter, Dr. Joyce Brothers, and Walter Cronkite.

Bruce’s most recent book, The 27 Challenges Managers Face: Step-by-step Solutions to (Nearly) All of Your Management Challenges (Jossey-Bass/Wiley, 2014) was published in September, 2014.  He is also the author of the best-seller It’s Okay to Be the Boss (HarperCollins, 2007) and the classic Managing Generation X (W.W. Norton, 2000; first published in 1995). Bruce’s other books include Winning the Talent Wars (W.W. Norton, 2001), which received widespread acclaim from Fortune 500 CEOs and business journalists; the best-seller Fast Feedback (HRD Press, 1998); Not Everyone Gets a Trophy: Managing Generation Y (Jossey-Bass, 2009); Managing the Generation Mix (HRD Press, 2006) and It’s Okay to Manage Your Boss (Jossey-Bass, 2010).   Many of Bruce’s works have been published around the world in foreign editions.

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