Attitude before Habitude

Attitude before Habitude

Attitude before Habitude

Want to know a good trick for getting your own way in virtually any situation? It sounds so simple, is so simple and yet very few people use it. Just say “We always…”

Trying to get to the head of the queue? “We always go straight to the front…”. “Oh, certainly, sir.”

Taking a dog on the bus? “No dogs allowed, Madam”. “Oh, sir, we always take Sniffles on the bus, we do it every time.” “OK, Madam, just this once.”

I once wrote myself a letter, signed by me, to allow me onto a natural disaster site that I wanted to help. The policeman who read it waved me on. ‘Good luck, sir,’ he said. Indeed.

“I always…” has a ring of confidence about it that seems irresistible. And confidence is an attitude not just a habit. Of course, the more you practice it the better you get at it. But even the most experienced person needs the attitude of “I always…”. Recognising this in my early career I pondered on the relevance of attitude to doing a job. I had been asked to answer a question nobody else seemed able to. It was truly unanswerable, if you approached it in the conventional way. If you redefined it to give you practical, usable answers, it was easy.

One of the most difficult questions we all have to answer is what we want out of life. Easy to say ‘enough’ but hard to define what enough means. I once asked an aspiring mentor about his future financial needs. It’s a question we ask everyone who comes to us for advice about their career. His answer to how much be had was ‘nearly enough’. That told me a lot about him and about what he would do with the rest of his life. ‘Nearly’ is as close to a fixed attitude as you are likely to get.

Perhaps the times when you need to consider your attitude most are when you are asking for something really precious – the hand of someone in marriage, a job you want more than any other, emergency funds to pay for an medical treatment. In each of these and similar situations there are two agendas – yours and the other person’s. You are most conscious of your agenda. You are in need or in love – they amount to much the same thing. Your agenda is clear. But the other party’s agenda is the one that matters. If you present your case, however eloquently, you will be refused. If you address the needs of the person you are asking you will win.

A young man was very much in love with his girl. He planned to ask her to marry him over an expensive dinner but set about it the wrong way. He told her all the things he had to offer – security, smart car, money, credit cards, wit, charm. He was shocked when she turned him down. He later learnt what to do. At the next attempt he forgot about what he was offering and instead told her about herself. He praised her. She read his attitude as caring. She accepted.

People often come to us because they don’t know how best to deal with job interviews. They assume a job interview is someone asking them questions which they must answer satisfactorily. That is wrong. A job interview is for the interviewer to find out if s/he can engage with the interviewee. There is no other purpose for a job interview. Simply answering someone else’s questions is not engagement. Unless you ask almost as many questions as you are asked you cannot hope to get the job. The secret is how to frame those questions in order to engage.

And that requires that you can read people – minute-by-minute. A part of that reading is whether they, too, can read you. There is only one criterion for hiring someone and that is that they have the right attitude to work, to the company and to their boss. If you can fathom what is the attitude of someone who wants to work with you, you will make the right decision to hire or not.

Attitude is more important in an employee than experience / habitude.

And attitude is more important in life.