Of Offensive Smells, Foreign Substances, and Bad Attitudes

by Ken Mueller on February 24, 2012 · 27 comments

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bad smell2 300x272 Of Offensive Smells, Foreign Substances, and Bad AttitudesThis morning while walking the dog we walked past a woman who was on her way to work at the hospital around the corner from us. The moment she walked by we got a major whiff of whatever cheap perfume she happened to be wearing. In fact, we could still smell it even after she had crossed the street. You know the type, though you usually get stuck in an elevator with them. Call me crazy, but it seems to me that if you’re going to work in a hospital, around sick people, you probably shouldn’t reek of Eau de Obnoxious. It might serve to hide some nasty hospital odors, but it will also make people more sick.

About five years ago I worked in the local M&M/Mars chocolate factory. Because we were working around food, they had very strict rules about how we came to work. In addition to wearing white coveralls over our clothing, we couldn’t wear the shoes we had worn outside. We couldn’t have strong perfume or cologne on. And because we were working around all sorts of equipment, we couldn’t wear any jewelry, not even a wedding band. Also, this was a non-peanut plant. None of the products made there had any nuts in them at all, and we weren’t even allowed to bring a PB&J sandwich with us to eat in the cafeteria. They were THAT concerned about someone with a peanut allergy getting some nut product in a non-peanut candy bar.

The truth is, even the slightest of things can wreak havoc. A little odor, a foreign substance…that’s all it takes to change everything.

The same goes for having a bad attitude. It affects those around you: at home, at work, in public. When you go to work, do you have a bad attitude about your job? Your customers? That sort of attitude is not very conducive to a positive work environment, and it certainly will help you get ahead and progress in your career.

And very often, the bad “odor” or attitude is not so much about bringing something in from the outside, but it’s inherent in the culture of your organization. I’ve had few jobs where a poor work ethic was due to a lack of morale, based on the culture of the organization, top down.

Step away from the perfume, hide the peanuts, and create a positive culture that creates motivated and happy employees, which in turn translates to a healthy culture within your customers.

Oh, and I can’t resist quoting Andre the Giant from one of my favorite movies, The Princess Bride:

Anybody want a peanut?

Is your business filled with offensive smells, foreign substances, and bad attitudes? And if so, are your employees bringing them in from the outside? Or are you cultivating that sort of culture by the way you operate?

 Of Offensive Smells, Foreign Substances, and Bad Attitudes
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27 comments
C_Pappas
C_Pappas

I have been a total bummer lately and joke about giving up complaining for Lent. After thinking about it deeply and trying to get to the root of it all, it's my work environment. It's full a awesome people but the agenda is constantly changing (and not in the fun way) and I dont which way is up, what I am supposed to be doing or even who to ask certain things of. I wrote a post on my blog about turf wars at work and I have never been a fan. Why do people trying and knock each other down? Isnt it hard enough? Lets have a happy work place, do great things, be productive and endorse success!

John_Trader1
John_Trader1

Great post Ken, attitude truly is everything. This post reminds me of the quote, "A bad attitude is like a flat tire. You can't go anywhere until you change it." I have a little sticky on my laptop that has the words "bad attitude" with a circle around it and a line through it, which I often feel like giving others from time to time in the office. Bad attitudes breed negativity and you just can't afford that mentality of you want to stay ahead in the world.

 

The one place that I see bad attitudes more than ever is in the high school players that I coach. It only takes one out of 28 kids, just ONE to infect the entire team. As soon as I spot that, I address it because it spreads so fast. I have to remind my players every single day that without a positive attitude they will never succeed, in sports or in life. 

janelledowney
janelledowney

My one experience with a dysfunctional workplace lasted 2 years.  I was a lot more tolerant then; not so much anymore.  My attitude is, leave your personal problems at home, don't bring them into the workplace.  If you have a problem with someone, tell them.  Don't get all passive-aggressive, since they probably have no idea what it is that you have a problem with.  If they do know what the problem is, at least you've told them.  If they're aware of the problem, and do nothing about correcting it, it's HR's problem.

Hajra
Hajra

One of the reasons why I left a job early in my career was the attitude I was surrounded with. People had this very aggressive manner all around and it made it a chore to be to work everyday. Although freelancing makes it easier to keep away from such issues; I wonder how many "offensive smells and bad attitudes" have wrecked havoc in organizations. The number has to be large, definitely.

 

When I was an intern, my supervisor actually referred a client to another psychologist because she couldn't stand the smell of his shoes... and he didn't change despite politely asking him to. 

MaryAnnFrancisCowley
MaryAnnFrancisCowley

The disengaged executive management across town at the competing hospital needs this reminder. 

Mark_Harai
Mark_Harai

Most of this starts at the top of the food chain.

 

Bottom line, you'll never hit it out of the park with offensive smells, foreign substances or a bad attitudes in your organization... These should be completely eliminated, or they will continue to have an adverse effect on your businesses success.

ginidietrich
ginidietrich

Your first paragraph reminds me of a woman I worked with very early in my career. She was on the admin side of the agency and she, well, she dressed really awful. And no one dared tell her how terrible she looked in her low cut shirts and tight pants. Then we had a company party and her husband was there. He was drooling all over her. He thought she was the sexiest thing he'd ever seen. So the woman you passed? Her husband probably likes the smell of that awful perfume that is giving me a headache just thinking about it.

 

But your point about bad attitudes is right on. I cannot tell you how many candidates we've gone to invite in for interviews, only to find all they do is complain on their social networks. As in, all the time. It doesn't just affect your current job, but the ones you're looking to get in the future.

 

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Danny Brown
Danny Brown

And the smaller the team, the bigger the impact of a bad employee. Moral of the story - never hire brussel sprouts and keep a bottle of Febreze handy in the HR office.

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@Quartz164
@Quartz164

The best way to handle it is to address the issue immediately with the individual. Then quarantine the person by giving them a project to work on independently either out of the office or in another part of the building. If it doesn't improve, nip it in the bud and get rid of them before it spreads. It sends a message to everyone that bad attitudes aren't tolerated. 

 

Now if the problem is more than one person and exists throughout the organization...get out!!!

BestRoofer
BestRoofer

Great point about the attitudes, because sometimes it gets a little difficult when everyone is working so hard and tired as we discussed @shonali 's blog yesterday.

KenMueller
KenMueller moderator

 @C_Pappas It's not easy. But hey, stick with me and I'll cheer you up and keep you moving forward!

KenMueller
KenMueller moderator

 @John_Trader1 The team thing is important, whether a sports team or a work team. You even look at a pro sports team that has spent a ton of money to buy talent, and on paper they should be awesome. But if even one has bad attitude, you'll hear about problems in the locker room, and they just don't work together well.

KenMueller
KenMueller moderator

 @janelledowney And for much of that to work, you need that open culture at your workplace. But I think most workplaces, while they SAY they want you to be open, still operate in a culture of fear.

KenMueller
KenMueller moderator

 @Hajra  Like the overpowering perfume, even a little bad attitude can permeate an entire business culture. It's infectious. There's a reason why stuff like this is often referred to as a "cancer".

KenMueller
KenMueller moderator

 @Mark_Harai It really just comes down to the culture of an organization, and yes, that is a top-down thing. I've worked in those, and it's horrible. I've seen it, and it stinks (no pun intended). And I've also seen the opposite. A culture that promotes relationships, creativity, etc is such a refreshing thing to find. 

janelledowney
janelledowney

 @ginidietrich I had to tell one of my former bosses that her strong perfume was making me (and I'm sure other people in the office) sick.  She "got it."  She took it very well; she had no idea anyone had a problem with it.  Of course, I prefaced my conversation with her with "I really like your perfume today!  But there's something I think you know....and please don't take this the wrong way...."  After that, she still wore a little perfume on occasion, and I made sure I complemented her when she did.  It ended up being our little joke.

KenMueller
KenMueller moderator

 @ginidietrich Hey, at least it was her husband that was drooling all over her. And yeah, I get headaches from that stuff. And bad attitudes suck. I get a bad attitude just thinking about it. It's like poison.

KenMueller
KenMueller moderator

 @BestRoofer  @shonali It's funny, since reading Shonali's post yesterday, I've found 2 or 3 other posts from our circle of friends that are echoing the same thing. Maybe it's just that we're nearing the end of Winter and people are dying to get Spring here. Cabin fever or something. I sure hope that's all it is. 

janelledowney
janelledowney

 @KenMueller Personally, I've never once hesitated making a complaint, whether there was a "culture of fear" or not.  I saw something wrong, I did something about it.  I've always felt it was my responsibility to make the workplace a better place. The only time anyone tried to retaliate against me, he ended up being arrested (in aforementioned dysfunctional workplace).  Since I didn't feel safe any longer, I never went back to work at that job after that day. I found a new job shortly thereafter and ended up getting a financial settlement from my former employer since they admitted protecting the guy.

BestRoofer
BestRoofer

 @KenMueller  @shonali What I thought was really funny was when I mentioned her in the reply, it went an e-mail to her saying she was mentioned in a post about.......hahaha

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