Try as you might, you can’t hide your attitude very well. You give off many verbal and behavioral clues that others will interpret, or misinterpret. The good news is that a positive attitude generally produces positive communication and behavior. Faking it to mask a bad attitude simply does not work. As a leader, you must recognize the significant impact of your communication and behavior on those who follow and those who would be partners and advisers.
You choose your attitude every day, and you choose how to deal with events or people that challenge your positive outlook. Others will respond to your words and actions and even mimic your behavior. Verbal communication expressing optimism, confidence and encouragement goes a long way to keeping your team motivated. Non-verbal cues reflecting attitudes can often reveal negativity that others will notice. Worse, these non-verbal cues are often misinterpreted and blown completely out of proportion, which explodes the specific problem you were attempting to hide.
You can train yourself to try to say the right thing in every circumstance to avoid revealing your true feelings. In the heat of battle, you will make small, inadvertent slip-ups. For example, your team is working furiously to meet a deadline to respond to a huge customer opportunity. You are there with them, helping in any way you can. Then, in reflection of the opportunity, you say, “If we get this …” instead of “When we get this ….” Until that moment, your team believed that meeting the deadline would mean that they DO get the “…” That little word “If” communicates doubt at the very least and may suggest you know something that they do not. Productivity going forward is going to take a hit.
Non-verbal cues can be even more powerful. These could be avoiding an employee you don’t like or don’t have confidence in, showing favoritism to one over others, or assigning menial tasks to a potentially valuable person. These behaviors creates a problem for you, the employee and his or her teammates, as nobody else but you can correct the situation. The person you don’t like may need some training, or they may be dealing with personal issues that will invariably impact their work. Maintain a positive outlook by building a rapport with and developing the skills and talents of everyone in the organization.
One non-verbal cue will damage your reputation quickly, and that is tardiness. Everyone deals with traffic delays, or urgent phone calls, or perhaps the dog really did eat your homework. Habitually showing up late to meetings with no notice is disrespectful and communicates an arrogant believe that you are the most important person in the room. Employees will put up with this because they have to, but they too will emulate the behavior and no meetings will start on time in your business. More importantly, you will turn off customers, partners and advisers and you will struggle to regain their trust.
Instead of working hard to choose words and actions that mask your negative attitude, choose a positive attitude and the correct words and behaviors will follow easily. While a negative attitude drives people away, a positive attitude act like a magnet drawing others who want to participate in the success of your dream.