And with that said, I would hazard or venture a guess that if you are reading this, you define attitude in its negative connotation, i.e., a person with an arrogant or aggressive disposition or behavior going off on you for little to no reason at all, especially in response to a simple non-threatening question you either asked or were asked.
And that is, perhaps, attitude’s biggest problem—the word itself and how it has changed from a positive to a negative, with the present young adult population taking the negative connotation and the previous generations taking the positive connotation.
Then again, it may well be just a simple case of too many of us instantly over analyzing the significance of what is being asked of us or what we are supposed to do, and doing it negatively, which is more likely in any fast paced working environment, or in an environment in which much is expected of one that is overworked, underpaid, and not well-trained.
Also of course, as has been the case in all too many instances, we wake up on the wrong side of the bed, or we had an argument with a significant other that went badly, or we are just too tired to care, or we feel sorry for ourselves and take it out on others for daring to interrupt our woe-is-me moment.
Negative attitude behavior has no place in a customer dependent environment—it is the classic set up for a lose-lose scenario, regardless of the final outcome. Yes, the customer may get a free whatever, but will remember the incident in a bad light and carry the resentment caused for ever; the arbitrator will have lost a customer as well as eat the cost for the service affected; and the person that either received the brunt of the attitude or instigated the attitude, will be either disciplined or fired.
Training and discipline are the only ways available to any organization or individual to prevent negative attitude behavior.
Most, perhaps all, personnel who hire people have a pre built expectation that the people they are interviewing for any given position came from families that raised them to be disciplined, honest, well mannered, and with an open and positive attitude towards the future. In other words, perhaps, they are assuming subconsciously that by and large we all had the same type of positive upbringing, and therefore, other than the “remember, the customer is always right, so act accordingly” warning, not much more is done in the way of preparing the new employee to deal with the occasional customer that, for whatever reason, gives that employee “attitude.”
Nor, might I add, is there much training, if any, for the employee that’s having a “bad day” and has to deal with, or comes across, a customer that triggers his or her “attitude”.
All emotional human responses between hate and joy are choices—we choose to hate, to get angry, to love, to laugh, to smile, etc., therefore, we can control our attitude; we can choose, no matter what, to have a good attitude, or we can choose the opposite—in other words, what I choose to call, Hamlet’s paradox:
Whether ‘tis nobler in the mind to suffer
The slings and arrows of outrageous fortunes
Or to take arms against a sea of troubles
And by opposing end them.
But that’s not the whole story, it’s just the front page, you know, the one that blares and blathers in big headlines that this or that happened, and then when you go to page two to read “the rest of the story,” you find out that the headline(s) that led you to page two were meant to make a mountain out of what turns out to be worm hill.
But also on page two, may be found, perhaps, the “real reasons” why employees exhibit the wrong kind of attitude, and that’s an oppressive working environment, where the employee(s), especially the ones that are on the front line, the ones that receive the least amount of training but are expected to be the most obsequious and deferential and, more than likely, are overworked and receive the least amount of pay in comparison to all other employees, and are, seemingly, constantly being criticized by their supervisors, with no “great job” when deserved.
Which begs the question: What kind of leadership training are supervisors, at all levels, getting? Any?
So, to answer the question: Can attitudes in the hotel business be changed for the better?
Yes, they can, but only with the concerted effort of top management to invest the necessary time, effort, and money, as well as the necessary, not the minimum, training in leadership, communication skills, deportment, and the skills of the job, along with an upward promotion ladder available to all.
Success produces smiles and failure produces frowns, which would you rather do? Which would you rather be surrounded by?
Attitude is a choice: Choose wisely.