In Winning at Work we spend a great deal of time focused on positive solutions for dealing with challenges created by other people – difficult coworkers, bosses, employees, customers, etc. It’s a valuable exercise, however, to occasionally turn our focus a little more inward. The truth is, many of the challenges we have with other people can have origins right in our own little brains.
Here are five questions you should ask yourself from time to time:
1. Do you typically look for what’s right, or what’s wrong?
When things change, are you looking for the good things to come, or do you dwell on the things you’ve lost? Do you seek ways to enjoy the things you have, or lament the things you don’t have? How you look at things is a matter of choice, and no-one ever achieved happiness by focusing on the dark side of life.
2. Do you find yourself using a lot of sarcasm?
A little sarcasm can be a healthy thing, but when you find yourself in a pattern of using sarcasm frequently, it’s a symptom that you’re choosing to view life from a negative perspective.
3. Do people occasionally tell you to “lighten up,” “take a pill,” “relax” or to stop being so intense?
Sometimes we can take ourselves way too seriously. When people start making these comments to you, it can be a sign that you’re too self-focused. It’s time to step back and look at things from a different perspective.
4. Do you laugh out loud at least once a day?
It doesn’t count if the only things you laugh at are sarcastic comments. If you find that you’re not finding opportunities to laugh each day, you’re missing out on a lot. Funny things happen all around us all the time – you just have to look for them to see them.
5. Do you find yourself frequently making judgmental comments about the people around you?
If you do, it’s valuable to ask yourself the follow-up question, “Why do I do this?” If you’re honest with yourself, the answers you generate can go a long way to understanding your own attitudes, and changing them to ones that are more positive and productive.
If you find that some of these questions hit close to home, take heart. It’s not uncommon for even the nicest of people to unconsciously fall into negative attitude patterns. What’s important is that we learn to recognize it when it happens, and take steps to correct it. The payoff is huge. It’s not a coincidence that people with the most positive attitudes also have the fewest challenges with the people around them.