Attitude Is A Choice – The Three Perspectives
Dear Young Professional,
Recently I was coaching a young mentee who was really frustrated due to an action by a co-worker.
The worst part? He didn’t even know who made the offense. There was no place to direct the frustration and anger.
What was the offense? It may seem small, yet this story illustrates a process many of us (including me) go through. This mentee had snacks they wanted to share with the office and in an open work space someone helped themselves to the snacks located near his personal workspace while he was away. He has just returned from a business trip from abroad and was excited to share some local treats.
Now the offender wasn’t a complete jerk, they only helped themselves to one serving size, and yet my mentee was completely incensed. Feeling disrespected, he called to vent.
After the emotions started to subside, I asked my mentee what he thought this nameless person’s intention was?
Caught off guard, my mentee struggled a little with my question. During the silence I relieved my mentee by asking, “Do you think this person’s intention was to disrespect you?” My mentee answered “No, but it’s just frustrating that someone would help themselves to things in my workspace.”
I didn’t disagree, but what I wanted my mentee to understand was that he has a choice on how to respond. This negative energy spinning him into a frenzy wasn’t helping anyone.
His choice of anger and frustration was based on the fact he took this personal. As if this co-worker had premeditated thoughts of frustrating my mentee this day. Surveyed the work area and when my mentee stepped away, helped themselves to the delicious snacks.
Ok, that may be a bit dramatic, but you get the point. I then asked my mentee if the culture of a casual work environment may have lent itself to any co worker thinking items in or near open spaces are free for the taking. This got him thinking.
Finally, I asked my mentee what would have been in their control to produce a different outcome. After a few minutes we came up with:
Placing the items out of open view until ready to share
Putting a sign on the item stating what they for and when they’d be served
I could tell in his tone he wasn’t thrilled I uncovered some actions within his control, but his emotions subsided. He never thought of the other person’s perspective. When he did he came up with:
Maybe he was just hungry and not thinking
Snacks were always in the office and open sharing was the norm
He probably had no clue of your intent to want to share these treats with a story from his trip
It’s completely understandable to get frustrated in circumstances such as these. We are human, we have emotions. What is dangerous is when you can’t unplug and at least briefly and reflect on the other person’s perspective.
Are you holding onto an attitude that is not healthy to advance your interest?Think about your perspective by stating “I” statements/questions:
I feel angry.
I feel disrespected.
Am I responding to this situation reasonably?
This last question is interesting as many times we overreact to a small situation because there is something else we are not addressing that has us frustrated. Think about it. Have you ever come home from work and your spouse or partner got the brunt of your frustration for a little item?
After asking these questions, then reflect if these are justified.
Don’t answer yourself too quickly, think about the other person’s perspective:
They might have just been hungry walking by
They didn’t know it was a special occasion/treat
To them, it didn’t look like it was someone’s personal property
In this case, my mentee did not have the opportunity to address the issue directly. If you have that opportunity, now start to look at the perspective of the union of the two either “Us” or “We” statements.
You cannot control others’ actions; however, you are 100% in control of your reaction and attitude. Think about your current situations that aren’t going smoothly and may need some work.
Are you stuck in only your perspective?
What attitude are you holding onto that are not productive?
What actions and behaviors are in your control of to change/adjust the trajectory of the outcome?
What is the mutual perspective(s) you can build on?
Next time you are faced with a challenging situation, what attitude will you choose?
Fondly, Aunt Kris