Each team member impacts the culture of an organization (positively or negatively) because emotions pass from person to person. Fifteen years ago, I was working for a particularly mean-spirited manager. He would spend his days yelling, stomping and publicly chastising me (and I was a work horse!). Although he looked at this as a type of training, I looked at it as his way of unfairly wielding his power. We had worked together a little over a year and, as I was moving to a different job, he said; “Chip, I’m really going to miss you – you’re more than a worker, you’re an atmosphere.” Obviously, his words took me by surprise. Not only did I think this manager despised me, I also thought he spent his evenings devising new ways to humiliate me. As time passed, I reflected on his words and came to the conclusion that, “He’s right, I am an atmosphere!” I tried to impact the people around me in a positive manner, find a way to smile or find the “funny thing” in a difficult situation, and give a positive spin on what looked like negative circumstances – which lifted the spirits of my co-workers (even the negative manager). But there are two kinds of atmospheres – carriers and converters. Which kind of atmosphere are you?
Carriers clutch onto their negativity and infect, just like the plague, each person they meet in the organization. If they are having a bad day, they are not happy unless they infect you with their problems (in an effort to ensure your day goes as bas as theirs). This transfer of negativity by the carrier must be satisfying to the carrier. So satisfying, i n fact, that they are not content until they have contaminated everyone in their workspace. I am sure you are familiar with this person (or people). Everything can be absolutely fabulous in their life, but they take the one negative and spend 20 minutes telling you how awful they feel because of it. When they are done, you are drained and feel terrible! Yes, you have been infected! This disease is highly contagious and has the potential to spread from person to person quickly. It affects workplace productivity, creativity, teamwork, and morale. What’s the vaccination for the disease? Being a converter!
Converters are organizational “rays of sunshine” and they do just that! They illuminate the workspace! Converters are skilled in the transformation of negatives i not positives. You may think that nothing ever goes wrong for the converter because you rarely hear about it. If they do speak of it, it is quickly spun into something positive that can be learned from or built upon for the greater good. Unlike carriers, converters help to boost morale, productivity, creativity and teamwork. Do you want the best news? Even if you don’t “naturally” have a converter attitude, it’s something that can be developed. Here are several approaches to help you convert to being a converter:
Smile – it’s amazing how something so simple can help to change your disposition (and that of others).
Laugh – get a “humor buddy,” that person that makes you laugh when there’s nothing to laugh about. This person already knows the secret to being a converter. If converters are in short supply, subscribe to a daily joke email list or call me (I’ll be happy to help).
Contribute – take the focus off yourself and do something nice for someone else.
Play – do something that you liked doing as a child (sledding, biking, building with Legos). Have fun!
No matter what your vocation, being a converter will catapult you to the forefront. If your current environment at work is change resistant, negative, unproductive, and you dread going to work, YOU can make the difference. Renovate the atmosphere with your converter attitude. There are no tools required. All that’s necessary are the words “can” and “will.” Your attitude indicates that you “can” and your actions indicate that you “will.” Convert it!