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Archive for April, 2012

Work-life Lessons 7: Choose a good attitude

in collaboration with Ira Fialkow and Ivy Remoreras

 If there is only one thing you can work on that will change you and your working environment, it is your attitude.

Have you ever noticed that a positive attitude is infectious? Having employees with pleasant attitude could mean the difference between a positive and supportive working environment and a workplace full of destructive conflict and negativity. You’ll go an extra mile for someone with a good attitude who’s pleasant to be around. Regardless of the circumstances of the company, you can create an environment where people genuinely care. If there is only one thing you can work on that will change you and your working environment, it is your attitude.

This article will discuss the importance of developing a pleasant attitude as well as give you some tips on how you can develop it.

Developing a good attitude in the work place creates a win-win situation. As an employee, a pleasant and positive attitude is indispensable to creating relationships with peers that will help you succeed in your professional endeavors. Your work attitude determines how high you can climb the corporate ladder. Your attitude determines how other people in your working environment perceive you. If you decide to have a cheerful, outgoing attitude, people will be drawn to you and you will be easy to collaborate with. You have total control. Your attitude determines whether you are open and proactive or closed and reactive, positive or defensive, advance ideas or bury them; and by our own attitude, we and we alone actually decide whether to succeed or fail.

For the workplace or organization, the right attitude translates to productivity. The single most efficient way to increase your productivity is to have a positive attitude at work. There is no other magic formula that increases productivity other than really, really enjoying your work.

Pick One Simple Pleasant Attitude (at a time) and Start Working On It

As a fair warning, working on one’s attitude is simple in concept but hard to do. It would be best to work with someone, a mentor for example, that you can collaborate with and with whom you can review feedback. Ask for frank feedback from your co-workers or your supervisor. There are countless work attitudes to choose from:

  • Courtesy and Humility – This is about being courteous and respectful of people in the office no matter what their rank and designation. Courtesy shows politeness in one’s attitude and behavior toward others. Basic courtesy is polite speech or action. Use words like “please” and “thank you”.   Another pleasant trait is humility, which simply means being humble when conducting yourself in the office. Humility is about having a healthy self-concept and being confident that you’re fulfilling your plan and purpose with integrity.
  • Punctuality and Preparation – This means two things: first, punctuality is the act of being on-time in your appointments, which means showing respect to others; second, it is about being prepared to engage and the ability to complete a required task before or at a designated or committed time. Cultural differences make this attitude a little more difficult to traverse, but being on time and prepared are universal signs of respect.
  • Pleasant – You can go an extra mile for someone with a good attitude. Unpleasant attitudes are restrictive and counter-productive. An example of an unpleasant attitude is giving non-constructive feedback. Upon receiving this feedback, people tend to become more reserved and keep things to themselves so as not to be criticized or blamed. Another simple tip is to wear a smile. Smiles are disarming and opening. Smile often even when the going gets tough. I know it is difficult. Try getting into the habit of smiling even when stressed. You will soon notice less knotted facial muscle and people will work better with you.

People with pleasant attitudes are a lot more fun to be around and consequently have better relations at work. This translates into better teamwork with peers; better working relations if you are a manager; more satisfied customers if you are in a service job, etc. Taking control of your attitude in the workplace and making it a habit to be courteous, humble, punctual, prepared and pleasant requires personal accountability. This means taking ownership of improving your attitude and understanding what you need to do to achieve it. You can do it one small step at a time by taking personal ownership. Bear in mind that it is a continuous process.

Work-life Lesson 7 Takeaways:

  • Having employees with pleasant attitudes means the difference between a positive and productive work environment or a workplace full of problems and negativity.
  • Your attitude determines how other people in your working environment perceive you. If you decide to have a cheerful, outgoing attitude, people will be drawn to you and you will be easy to collaborate with.
  • When working on improving attitude in the workplace, it would be best to work with a mentor whom you can collaborate with. You can ask for frank feedback from your co-workers or have a discussion with your supervisor.
  • Make it a habit to be courteous, humble, punctual, prepared and pleasant. You can do it one small step at a time by taking personal ownership.

Photo by KROMKRATHOG.

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I miss flying Continental Airlines

I don’t know if it’s just a coincidence but it was the first time we flew Continental, under United name and we had a bad overall customer experience.

I have been a loyal customer of Continental Airlines for many years now. My family and I use it for all our vacation and business travels. Although I could find other airlines offering more competitive air fares, I would still choose Continental. I have always found comfort and satisfaction flying Continental. The merger of United Airlines and Continental was announced in 2010. This union formed the largest airline in the nation, under the name United. I still patronized Continental during the post merger transition. I was remarkably surprised that they had maintained the consistency of their service level. I continued to be a very happy customer.

Until…

Last week, my family traveled to California for vacation. Of course, we chose to travel Continental. This time, the name on the plane was noticeably changed to United. Also, it said  “Premier Access” on my boarding pass instead of the usual “Elite Access”. I expected our flying experience to be the same or better. A merger of two companies usually means the best practices of both established firms are retained. The outcome is usually the best of both companies.

I was wrong…

I flew back to Houston from Ontario, California last Monday. My wife and our twin infant boys were travelling with me. As can be expected when travelling with two infants, we had a bulky stroller with lots of baby stuff (formula, diapers, the works) in preparation for the three-hour flight.

What would you expect when boarding a plane with kids or infants? My expectation is to have a bit of consideration — maybe priority boarding. I understand that first class goes first (they paid for it), then military and passengers needing assistance — typically those in wheelchairs. But aren’t people with strollers and infant children also in need of assistance?

We were in boarding group 5. I don’t know if it was just me or because of the experience, but I feel bad about the  number tag on priority boarding. This was printed prominently on the boarding pass. So groups 1 to 4 board before us. Usually, it does not matter to me if I were to board last;  but since I am travelling with my twin babies, it certainly mattered now. I want them to be comfortable. So it became more personal.

More than half of the passengers were already boarded and we were still waiting for our group 5 to be called.  My wife went to ask the gate service attendant because normally, in any flight (and not just with Continental), the people with infants were among the first to be boarded. But she got an unfriendly response and told to just get out of the way and wait for our group to be called. During our actual boarding, I asked the same attendant and got the same rude response.

I don’t know if it’s just a coincidence but it was the first time we flew Continental, under United name and we had a bad overall customer experience.

Here is another…

Arriving in Houston, we got our baggage and were surprised to see that one of our bags had a broken handle. The handle was destroyed in such a way that you could no longer use the luggage. It was a relatively new bag that we bought last January. It was only the second time that we used it.

We went to the United Baggage Service office in the airport. We were attended to and were given a reference number and a claim number. We were given a contact number and instructed to call it for follow-up and further assistance.

My wife called the number later,  only to be referred to another office. That office asked her to call the United office at the airport instead but could not give her the contact information. On Monday, after we got home from the airport, she had received an email from the claim case that was filed and on it was contact information. She called that number and was told that the case was closed and she should call the United office at the airport if she had questions. At this point, my wife had to use a search engine to find another contact number for the Baggage Service office of United Airlines and get a clearer response to the status of our bag damage claim. She had to talk to several people and was passed on to several offices giving her conflicting information about the case. They damaged our bag and we had to go through all these just to get an answer that the claim is still in process. So far no resolution to it yet!

As you can imagine, this was such a frustrating experience for us flying United. The front-office customer experience was already bad and the after flight back-office service was just as bad!

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