Guest post by Zaheen Nanji
My first day on the job I noticed all my co-workers were male! Being in the field of public health inspections, I didn’t know what to expect in an office environment or even relating to operators in the field. It was nerve-wrecking.
I started doubting my capability and yet another part of me wanted to be accepted. My self-talk was going in two different directions – one of doubt and one of ‘I know it all’, but I took up neither. Instead, I became curious and I started fitting right in, and my colleagues commented on my positive attitude.
You’ve heard people say, “Have a positive attitude,” but what does that mean? When I researched resiliency for my book, I found that psychologists define attitude as a learned tendency to evaluate things a certain way. When resilient individuals approach a difficult situation, they have a tendency of being curious and optimistic, thereby diminishing fear.
Think of a leader or even a colleague whom you admire and notice how she interacts with you or with others. You’ll notice the following, and the easiest way to remember this is LIMP:
- Listen: She’s listening for words that indicate the person’s communication style and then communicates back using that style. Human beings receive and communicate information in four main styles, but one style is the preferred style:
- Visual: You learn by watching or having images. You think in pictures and like to see your way clearly so you have a long-term vision, but you tend to skip details and are impatient.
- Auditory: You learn by listening or talking it out. You brainstorm ideas and are detailed when explaining a project, but you get upset when interrupted.
- Kinesthetic: You learn by doing and feeling. You connect well with others and make decisions based on how you feel. You like keeping a balance, but you dislike too many choices.
- Digital: You learn by having facts and figures. You solve problems and prioritize well, but you can also be stubborn.
- Intention: She is listening for the person’s underlying reason. What is the other’s person intention or their underlying aim, rather than what they are saying? When you are in conflict with a client or co-worker, ask yourself, “What is he/she trying to gain out of this behaviour that is positive?” Most often when a discussion turns into an argument, the underlying aim of the person yelling is that she feels unheard, or she feels she’s lost control and wants to gain it back.
- Match and mirror: She subconsciously picks up the opposite person’s body language, tone of voice, and information style, and mirrors that. How one gestures, his or her body posture, and facial expressions can either build or break rapport. Recall the last time you had a live conversation with your best friend. When creating rapport, match body postures and gestures, breathing rates and voice tonality and speed.
- Perspective: She behaves respectfully and shows genuine interest in what’s important to the other person. To really understand the other person’s perspective, you have to figuratively step into their shoes. In short, it’s about understanding the other person rather than the other person understanding YOU.
Having a positive attitude is not just about being curious, but it’s also about leveraging your relationship skills and creating rapport that works in both directions, where you may have differing opinions, but those opinions are respected and working relationships are improved.
Zaheen Nanji is a resilience champion and a business owner in Alberta, Canada. Embracing change and fear is Zaheen’s trademark because she overcame her speech impediment, her struggles with weight and learned to live in a new country, at the age of 15, without her parents. Her book, The Resilience Reflex – 8 Keys to Transforming Barriers into Success in Life and Business, became an International Best-Seller on Amazon Kindle. Zaheen teaches people how to make resilience their first reflex using her 3-step system: Release, Re-program and Resolve. She can be reached at http://www.zaheennanji.com