The whole organization can be infected by that one
person’s bad attitude. And if that happens, the customer
will eventually suffer for it.
I saw this in practice a number of years ago when I was
on a team that was conducting a two day customer service
program for Chrysler Corp. We did two, 2-day sessions
every week for 10 weeks, so were well versed in the subject
and the content of the program. We could predict with close
accuracy the reaction of the group to certain activities
and exercises we would conduct.
About four to five weeks into the program we had an attendee by
the name of Betty who came in and was assigned a seat in the
middle of 70 other participants. It was obvious from her
demeanor that she did not want to be there.
After the first activity, the question was asked, “what
did we just learn from that?” The normal reaction was for
people to shout out responses on insights they’d had.
energy was high, the enthusiasm was evident, and the
participation was almost 100 percent.
This particular day, when the question was asked, “what
did we just learn from that?” the first respondent was
Betty. From the center of the room a voice shouted,
The room fell silent.
After the longest two days of training I have ever
conducted, the end came and Betty was the first to leave the
room, practically on a run. She threw her evaluation sheet
at me. I didn’t have to ask how she scored us.
Right behind her was a salesman who asked, “Can you
throw her evaluation away? We all know what she said.”
told him that no, the agreement was to send them all in to
headquarters. Although I have to admit, I was sorely
tempted to throw it out.
He then continued, “I have to tell you that as much as
I enjoyed these past two days, and as much as I learned from
you three trainers, I learned more from Betty.”
I was flabbergasted.
I asked him to explain. He said that
there were days when he was reluctant to go to work because
he knew he wouldn’t get any “good customers” and
consequently they wouldn’t buy any cars. He said he also
had days when he knew it would be a good day and he’d have
great customers who would make a purchase.
He said that sure enough, he was always correct.
after experiencing Betty, he saw how attitudes can affect
other people. He realized that he was the one who was the
predictor of what kind of a day it would be. He ended by
saying “Attitudes are extremely contagious, aren’t
I had always known that, but after having been through
the experience of the past two days where one person
impacted 70 other people in a major way, I learned the
lesson all over again.
The lesson is, keep your attitude a positive one if you
want the outcome of your dealings with other people to be
Margo Chevers, author of the book
STOP the BS (Bad Service), has been providing sales and customer service
seminars to a diverse cross-section of industries for the
past 19 years. Visit her at margochevers.com.