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The following article
was written by Coleman Patterson and
appeared in the Business section of the Abilene Reporter-News.
Understand the role of attitudes in the workplace, December
8, 2006, 2E.
people hear someone described as having an “attitude” they
might think of that person as being standoffish, snobby, or
uncaring. Having an attitude is not usually a compliment.
In reality, everyone has attitudes about all types of things
and they influence peoples’ thoughts, feelings, and actions.
attitude is an evaluative feeling or belief about something
in particular. People have attitudes about their jobs,
food, animals, furniture, music, politicians, television
shows, automobiles, and countless other things that they
encounter in their lives. Attitudes can be positive,
negative, or neutral and they have three
components—cognitive, affective, and behavioral.
cognitive component involves knowledge and understanding.
To have an attitude about something, a person must have some
type of experience or knowledge of the thing. When forming
an evaluation of something in particular, people reach into
their memories to retrieve knowledge and information about
the subject or topic. The knowledge stored away in a
person’s mind comes from direct personal experiences and
from experiences passed along from other people (e.g., from
personal stories, news reports, writings, etc.) and other
things that they have learned and filed away in their minds
about the subject or topic.
affective component is the emotional and feelings dimension
of the attitude. Attitudes about family members, favorite
foods, cherished items, and former schools and organizations
carry with them emotional aspects that extend beyond basic
knowledge and information. Negative emotions can similarly
arise when negative attitudes are evoked.
peoples’ thoughts and emotions are stimulated, they combine
to influence behaviors. The sight of a charging pit bull
might cause one to jump into a tree or bend down to welcome
the dog depending on the cognitive and emotional responses
to the event. Likewise, a person’s thoughts and feelings
about work might result in excessive absenteeism and sloppy
work or extra effort and involvement depending on his or her
important to understand the role that attitudes play in the
workplace. Thoughts and feelings about a wide variety of
things and subjects combine to influence peoples’
behaviors. A supervisor who is perceived as unapproachable
and overbearing can bring about feelings of fear and
apprehension in workers and discourage proper and necessary
interaction between workers and the supervisor. Perceptions
of low pay can bring about feelings of resentment or being
unappreciated and undervalued and result in undesirable work
behaviors. Coworkers who are perceived as lazy or looking
out for themselves can promote feelings of distrust or
hostility and encourage unproductive worker behaviors.
and organizational leaders who seek to change employee
behaviors must recognize that behaviors arise from a complex
interaction with thoughts and feelings about particular
things, subjects, and concepts. Trying to change worker
behaviors without also addressing their thoughts and
feelings could prove to be a futile effort. Feelings of
trust and support and a knowledge and understanding of the
subject of change are required for true and lasting
behavioral changes to occur.
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