Many years ago when I read “Fish“, one of the elements that resonated most was “choose your attitude”. The concept that whilst you can’t control the external environment, you can control your reactions and responses to it. How often do we see people who have been through some adversity, talk positively about their life and future, much against our preconceived ideas of how they “should” feel?
In organisations we often believe that someone else is responsible for the culture. “The boss”, “Management”, “Them”. There’s no doubt that power exerts influence on an organisational culture, but so do the collective actions and behaviours of everyone within. Failing to recognise our influence over those we work with and the opportunity to influence the world around us is effectively self- disempowerment.
Nobody talks to anyone here becomes I’m going to make the effort to talk to people I don’t know.
Everybody is so downbeat becomes I’m going to smile at people and wish them a good day.
Nobody knows what’s going on, everything is kept secret becomes I’m going to make sure the people who need to know understand what I’m working on and what I need.
You can see this when a commuter starts a conversation up in the tube, or opens a door for someone else, when a customer smiles and jokes with a waiter or waitress. People around observe the behaviour and often replicate or join in. The social element of our genetic make up leads us to seek to conform to group rules in the environment around us.
So if there is something you dislike about your organisation’s culture, instead of focusing on what’s not happening, focus on how you can behave in a way that shows the things you want to see. I’m not saying you’ll see full scale conversion overnight, but I’ll guarantee you see change.
And at the same time, you’ll probably feel a whole lot better about yourself, your work and your life. That’s got to be reward enough, no?