The Altitude of Attitude

For the past few days I’ve been watching people’s attitudes. And I’ve been watching how their attitudes impact my attitude. It’s been an interesting test. I started on Saturday when my wife, Tammy, and I had to run some errands:

  • Car wash: Outgoing and friendly cashier put me in a happy mood and led me to leave a generous tip for the guys drying the car.
  • Lunch at Five Guys Burgers and Fries: Gregarious and engaging cashier tried to save me some money and led me to leave a generous tip for the guys cooking our food.
  • Trader Joe’s: Cool dude with tattoos, funky glasses, and rolled up jeans checked us out and held a conversation that literally made me want to be his “friend.” If it was an acceptable practice at Trader Joe’s, I would have left him a generous tip. I left Trader Joe’s knowing that I would be back again soon. I always seem to get good customer service there.

The great Romantic poet, Samuel Taylor Coleridge, wrote:  “Nothing is so contagious as enthusiasm.”  I wholeheartedly agree.  But I would add:  “…except for a bad attitude and lack of enthusiasm.”

On Sunday I left Milwaukee to drive to Nashville so that our son could have a car for the summer. I flew back home on Monday, and stopped at the airport shop to pick up a newspaper. I felt a cloud move over my head as I entered the store. There was a long line of customers. The cashier was dour, down, taking her time, making it known that she would rather have been anywhere but there. My mood was immediately altered for the worse. I ended up going to another store to get my paper. It took me a while to recover. If I had been attempting to write at the time, there would have been no way.

My creativity flourishes when I am in an environment where people are outgoing, pleasant, and pleased to serve. I don’t care if you’re not in a good mood. At least fake a good mood. It might actually help put you into a good mood. Do you realize how much your down and dour attitude impacts me?

I realized the altitude of attitude when I flew home on Monday. I took Southwest Airlines for the first time in a long time. It seems to me that they hire a different “type” of person. I did quite a bit of flying on my sabbatical last fall. Never once was I impressed or had my mood altered for the better by a flight attendant from any of those airlines.

But the flight attendants and counter people for Southwest Airlines were pleasant, funny, making jokes, smiling at customers, making them feel comfortable, and doing anything they could to make the flying experience a good one…which is a rarity these days. Boy am I glad Southwest now flies out of Milwaukee. I’m going to be taking that airline more often.

While I’m at it, let me put in one more plug. I have recently been making it a habit to write my sermons at an Alterra coffee shop. The people who work there are quirky, funny, friendly, and seem like they actually enjoy being there. It makes for a creative environment. Their attitude inspires me; it creates energy in the place; it perpetuates my creative spirit. My sermons are much “easier” to write, and flow a whole lot better in that kind of space.

What is your story about the way in which the attitude of others impacts you?

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3 thoughts on “The Altitude of Attitude

  1. I agree wholeheartedly! Thomas and I travel a lot and we are amazed at how quickly we meet people. I truly believe it's because of our attitudes. We are very upbeat; we laugh and truly enjoy each others company. I think people are drawn to us because they can see that and want to be a part of it. Laughter is magnetic, it draws people in!

  2. I've enjoyed many (most, all?) of your posts, but this one seems to have struck home. I will definitely be thinking about my attitude when I deal with people.

    I have heard a few talks on having an attitude of gratitude. Changing your focus in this direction can have a big impact on yourself and others.