I don’t like Mondays — the importance of attitude at work

In a series of short articles on customer service Steven Harris explains the importance of choosing the right attitude in being able to give great service.

Imagine you are tucked up in bed. It’s a Monday morning, freezing cold and the middle of winter. The alarm goes off and you think to yourself: “I am still so tired. Here we go again, another Monday, I really do not want to get up. It’s so warm here in bed.”

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Eventually you drag yourself out of bed, go over to the curtains, look out and you think “I knew it, it’s raining. It’s going to be a bad day today. I remember last Monday when it rained, it was a bad day then, so it’s bound to be a bad day today as well.”

You then go downstairs to get some breakfast, open the fridge and guess what? No milk! Or worse the milk is off!

Many of us then turn on the radio or television and we get our daily dosage of the news – corruption, murder, war, cut backs, another leadership election, redundancies, earthquakes….It’s all bad!

You have not even left your house or flat yet and you have started sliding down your personal spiral. (Your personal spiral is a reflection of how you are feeling over the course of a day).

Some of us then get in the car and the car won’t start. When it does finally start, within minutes you are stuck in traffic and thinking that you are going to be late for work. Or you get on the train, tube or bus and there are no seats and you are packed in like sardines. You end up standing next to someone who has had garlic the night before and they really stink.

You finally get to work and say to a colleague, “Hi, How are you today?” What do they say? “You don’t want to know the sort of morning I have had!” You then think to yourself, wow they have got out of bed the wrong side today. Quietly you move on and get yourself organised for work. Meanwhile, you can hear others saying the same sort of thing.

In retail we go on the shop floor and are immediately faced with stock or staff problems. Everybody then moans about stock or staff for ten minutes and then go further down their spiral.

In offices we are constantly faced with IT issues or new initiatives from HR, so everybody talks about that and go further down the spiral.

Everywhere we go we always have people not turning up due to sickness. This then means that your workload has just doubled for the day.

Before you know it, it’s the end of the day and the whole team have crashed at the bottom of the spiral.

The picture I just painted was one where the whole team reached the bottom of the spiral at the end of the day. We go into a lot of different organisations, many times the colleagues within those organisations find themselves at the bottom of their spiral at 9 o’clock in the morning.

When we stand back and really think about it, the thing that brings people down the spiral is how we respond to what happens to us during the day. It is our response to the events that take place during the day that bring us down the spiral, that in turn affects how we feel during the day and affects our ability to engage with both customers and our colleagues.

But it doesn’t have to be like this. Let me explain why.

Imagine you have a day off. Its mid-week and you have the house or flat to yourself. You think you will do a few odd jobs during the morning. In the afternoon you decide that you will put your feet up and watch your favourite film.

It’s mid-afternoon, you are watching the film, when suddenly you hear a noise outside, one that comes from a truck when it’s reversing. You look outside and there is a rubbish truck with all the rubbish from the local neighbourhood reversing up your drive towards your front door.

The next thing the driver dumps all his rubbish just by your front door step. What would you then do?

  • Ignore it and go back to watching your film, or
  • Get out there and sort him out?

I suspect the answer to that would be the latter.

Let’s now go back to work. Isn’t it strange that we wouldn’t allow anybody to pour rubbish on our doorstep, but we allow people to pour rubbish — another word for negativity — into our brains every day of our lives. The trouble with this is that if all we are hearing is negativity around us, there is a high possibility that we will become infected and we will be negative ourselves.

Teams who work hard together to stay at the top of the spiral, have a better day, a more enjoyable day, one that goes quicker and what’s more the customer notices it because there is a better atmosphere in that environment.

Nobody can, has or will ever be able to choose your attitude for you. Only you can choose your attitude. It is always your choice. So think about the spiral, think about where you want to be on it. Remember however, that wherever you are on it is down to your own choice.

People are always saying to me they get the spiral and that we choose our own attitude, but it’s tough out there. How can we stay up the top of the spiral or how can we choose the right attitude every day?

Later this week Steven Harris provides proven methods to help you stay at the top of your spiral, and remain upbeat, positive and motivated.

Steven Harris is founder and managing partner of Energize Learning and can be contacted at steve@energizelearning.com. These articles are based on his book Fired Up and Ready to Go!

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