Archive for February, 2015

Behviors Have Consequences

February 19, 2015

Behaviors Have Consequences


Whatever we do during the course of our business – and personal – days, produces reactions from our customers, colleagues, and social acquaintances.

Many of the behaviors are unintended, and daily pressures sometimes cause them, so here’s an idea that might help avoid inappropriate reactions.

Attitude is a powerful factor that influences our behavior and how we view situations and conditions.

Consider this definition of attitude my co-author and I used in our book, “Becoming a Successful Manager.”

“An attitude is a state of mind and a predisposition to action based on what you tell yourself.

“Attitudes precede actions; positive attitudes lead to productive actions; negative attitudes lead to unproductive actions.”

From the book, here’s an example showing how attitudes work, and how what we call “self-talk,” can provide control and direction.

The customer-service department of a Midwest company was receiving frequent complaints. Specifically, people said customer service representatives treated them rudely. They were left on hold for what seemed to be forever, disconnected while waiting to be helped, and then not given the help they hoped to receive.

These complaints had gone on for almost a year and were accompanied by a steady decline in sales. During a meeting we had with the five-person department, we asked, “When the phone rings, what do you tell yourself before you answer it?”

We received blank stares and no immediate responses. With some encouragement, though everyone eventually related a variation of the same negative self-talk comment. We heard, “Here comes another complainer!”

After discussing the effect self-talk can have on behavior, we suggested they tell themselves something else when the phone rings. For instance: “This caller has a problem. My job is to help him or her to solve that problem, and I can do that. I’m a valuable resource to this person in trouble.”

As part of the solution, they also adopted the greeting, “How can I help you?” when answering the phone.

This simple question was more than words. It was a genuine positive attitude, revealed in their tone of voice that said, “I want to help you.”

Within a month, the vice president of operations started receiving feedback praising the customer service department.

The lesson learned was this. If your attitude is negative, it will come through; but if your attitude is positive, that, too, will come through.

This positive attitude suggestion isn’t a “magic bullet” that will solve all your problems immediately, but it will go a long way influencing and reshaping behavior. It’s a kind of self-fulfilling prophecy.

We’ve all done this to ourselves without even thinking about it. There may have been a time you were invited to go to a meeting you didn’t want to attend but didn’t have an option. If you chose a negative attitude and told yourself the meeting would be a waste of time, it was. On the other hand, if you had chosen a positive attitude and told yourself “This is a tight time, but as long as I have to go, I’ll see if I can learn something I might have missed out on had I not been invited, you did.

In all likelihood whichever attitude you choose will result in your prediction coming true. When we have a strong belief about the outcome of a relationship or an impending experience, we do everything in our power to make that belief come true.

It’s a pretty safe bet to say that attitudes are responsible for creating and perpetuating our successes and failures as well as the quality of our relationships.

Business is all about building and maintaining relationships, and directing attitudes by this self-talk can be a great help for all of us.

I’ve written this line before:

People might forget exactly what you say, and they might forget precisely what you do, but they will never forget how you make them feel.

Use this “self-talk” technique. See how your attitude can shape your behavior.