“The longer I live, the more I realize the impact of attitude on life. Attitude, to me, is more important than facts. It is more important than the past, than education, than money, than failures, than successes. It is more important than appearance, giftedness or skill. It will make or break a company, a church, a home. The remarkable thing is we have a choice every day regarding the attitude we will embrace for that day. We cannot change our past. We cannot change the fact that people will act a certain way. We cannot change the inevitable. The only thing we can do is play on the one string we have, and that is attitude… I am convinced that life is 10% what happens to me and 90% how I react to it.”
-Charles Swindoll, Sales Trainer
Hundreds of books have been written on the subject of attitude. This lesson will emphasize that our attitudes are formed from the values we develop in life and that our values and attitudes determine our behavior. First, let us look at some popular definitions of attitude.
“A mental position.”
“Opinions, views, beliefs, or convictions a person holds about some object.”
“A feeling of emotion towards some person, object, or idea.”
“That which determines a person’s behavior.”
I would like to sum up the previous four definitions and say that attitude is a person’s emotional feeling toward an object, idea, or person that determines behavior.
ATTITUDES ARE FORMED
Attitudes are not born, they are formed over a period of time and are created from our individual experiences and interactions with other people. In essence, attitudes stem out of our personal value system. Values are simply our individual opinions, beliefs, standards, and ethics. For every value that we accumulate over the years, an individual attitude is attached to it. Attitudes are highly resistant to immediate change. Attitudes cause us to respond favorably or unfavorably to life’s situations and experiences.
ATTITUDES CAN CHANGE
In order to change a person’s behavior for a long period of time, a change must take place in the person’s attitude. This behavioral change results from a value clarification experience. Value clarification occurs when an individual is confronted face-to-face with an opinion, belief, standard, or ethic that is suddenly evaluated. Generally, a past value becomes changed, altered, replaced, or solidified. A significant value clarification experience will influence a person’s present attitude and affect behavior. A person might feel that seat belts are not very important and seldom buckles up. This feeling is simply a belief, or value, that has been with the person for years. Let us assume that this person has a serious automobile accident and is severely injured. This person is told that seat belts would have substantially lessened the extent of his or her injuries. The attitude of this person may change towards seat belts to the extent that buckling up becomes a daily habit in the future. The person’s attitude about seat belts changed because of the value clarification experience of a change in belief relating to seat belts.
A person’s wants and desires can change one’s attitude. I had extremely long hair while in high school and during my first quarter of college. I found out that I could not get the job I wanted unless I was willing to get my hair cut, and that short hair was a precondition to getting a particular job. My attitude about hair length changed, even though I said earlier in life that I would never cut my hair for anyone. Since my first year in college, I have always had short hair. If we really desire or want something, we may have to change our attitude towards something to get it.
Another factor that can change a person’s attitude is a change in how a person feels about him/herself. A friend of mine was in the process of getting a divorce from her husband. During her marriage she was very conservative in the car she drove and the clothes she wore. After her separation, something happened to her self-concept. She started to change. She became an eligible woman who wanted to favorably impress potential companions of the opposite sex. She purchased a sports car and some very high-fashion clothing to match what she believes to be her new self-image.
The previous three examples have a common thread–for a person to change their behavior, they must first experience a change in attitude. In order to change one’s attitude, a change must first take place in relationship to values, or a value clarification experience must occur. As you become aware of a person’s values and attitudes, you begin to understand why people act and behave the way they do.
Of course, the Win/Win attitude is the ideal one to develop, especially for sales professionals. People who develop this type of attitude are very sensitive to the needs of others. They learn to trust other people and are willing to sacrifice for another person’s happiness. This attitude has the ability to create situations in which both parties benefit and come out ahead. It creates a situation of synergy that improves the cooperation, cohesiveness, and outcome of two people when working together. Synergy being the effect that takes place when two caring people work together. Two people can accomplish more together than by working apart from each other. In essence, 1 + 1 = 3, 4, or 5 instead of 2