A Small Gesture with a Big Impact

It seems acceptable and almost more congenial to be in a bad mood these days. In fact, there is an entire line of stationary items that proudly states, “I Am Very Busy.” Why would anyone want to be in a bad mood purposefully? An entire blog post could probably be written on why people see being busy versus productive as a positive thing. But for now, let’s focus on why a positive, agreeable attitude is probably a better way to get ahead in your career than a negative one.

In my previous blog post, I describe a time when I was complimented for having a positive attitude, which helped me stand out in a sea of a thousand faces. As happy as I was to receive that compliment, it seems almost wrong. Why should I be noticed for not being a negative person?

There is a lot of talk about personal branding. What you wear, how you present yourself and what you post on social media are all mentioned as top things to consider in building your personal brand. But it is rarely mentioned that your attitude is the key thing people will remember about you.

Here are some questions to consider in your self-reflection of the attitude you present to others:
• Do you go out of your way to get to know your colleagues, ask about their professional work personal lives (where appropriate)?
• Do you generally smile when you talk or find an opportunity to laugh with colleagues?
• Do you start meetings as “all business” or try to bring a little levity and personality to your job?
• When someone asks how your day is going, do you generally answer positively or just tell them about the grievance you have that day?
• Do you have a positive response for “how was your weekend” or “what plans do you have for the holidays” or do you share your personal issues with your colleagues?
• If someone doesn’t agree with you in a business meeting, how is your response to them in the meeting? How do you handle it following the meeting, do you try to get others “on your side”?
• Are you able to receive feedback without getting defensive or angry?
• Do you volunteer for side projects or to help a colleague out who looks stressed?
• Do you have a consistency to how you speak to others, even and especially when, there are leaders in the room?

Every industry gets smaller the longer you are in it. People are going to remember your kindness and your smile or your negativity and your scowl. Your reputation can have either. But in the end, the former is going to benefit your career in the long-run and—in the short-run—make each day a little bit easier.