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Choose your own attitude
You're in charge of how you feel, so make the decision that you won't let circumstances get you down.
It may seem trite to say so, but your attitude makes a huge difference in how you view your world-including your job. That's why the team at Olathe Animal Hospital in Olathe, Kan., focused on the idea of choosing your attitude at a staff retreat two years ago.
"Most of us believe our attitudes are caused directly by outside influences, like unpleasant experiences or negative people," says Nancy Potter, practice manager and Firstline Editorial Advisory Board member. "While external pressures may trigger our feelings, we're the ones wearing those feelings like a suit of clothes. We can either be subservient to external events-few of which we have any control over-or we can take charge of our own response."
Potter cautions that choosing your attitude isn't just putting on a happy face. "Sometimes feeling and looking angry or sad is what's called for," she says. "That's why choosing your outlook is about being aware of your demeanor and how it's affecting you and others. Once you're aware of the impact, you may view your attitude differently, even if the situation or person that upset you hasn't changed."
To gain that awareness, ask yourself a two questions: 1) Does my attitude help me or others? 2) Is it helping me be the way I want to be?
"The concept of choosing your attitude asks only that you make your own choice and not try to pass it off on something or someone else," Potter says. "Once you accept that you're the only one in charge at this moment, you can decide whether to keep your outlook or shape it into one that's more satisfying. You control your attitude, not the other way around."
In keeping with this philosophy, Potter's practice created laminated cards that read "Choose Your Attitude.' The team agreed that if one of them-including the boss-is acting grumpy, anyone could slip a card onto the workstation as a reminder of the deal. "We all agreed that there would be no repercussions in doing this, and that the card would let the person know that they needed to reevaluate their attitude," Potter says. "This has been a positive approach for us and has made not only the boss, but also other team members think twice about how they come across."