If you have kids, know some kids, been a kid yourself, or just even seen a kid in it’s natural habitat, you know how easily they pick up on everything around them. Whether it’s the bad language you accidentally let loose every now and then, the way you twiddle your thumbs, or the face you make when you are doing your make up, you better believe that kids are watching and ready to imitate at the drop of a hat. We all expect that, but have you ever noticed how quickly adults do the same? Just because we have created our own personalized habits by the time we’re in our 20’s does not mean that we’re not picking up on the habits of those around us. I think maybe we’re just better at hiding it from ourselves and believing that we came up with them all on our own.
For example, I once lived with an English friend of mine for about 6 months. After just a few months, I noticed myself picking up on little ways that she would say things, phrases that only months ago I had never heard were becoming standard vocabulary. Before I knew it, I was hearing my own internal thoughts in an English accent. We pick up on things so easily. No matter our age, geographical location, or cultural norms we are always learning.
But this learning goes deeper than just the simple habits that we pick up from others. We are prone to our environments far more severely than we think, especially at work. We learn from the attitudes of our coworkers –from work ethic, to a group’s positivity or negativity, to gossip or encouragement – but of course this does not mean that we can blame our own attitudes on the guy in the cubicle across from you.
By being aware of our ability to latch on to other’s habits, we have the responsibility to create an environment to help others grow.
Your environment is more than just the people that you spend your time with. We aren’t always able to choose these environments. Sometimes we can. If you notice yourself picking up on a friend’s gossip habit and pessimism, it might be best to distance yourself to a healthy degree. Of course sometimes it’s not that easy. What about your work environment? Most of us spend the majority of our time with those that we work with. In some ways, you do choose this environment, but it’s not as if you can simply choose not to work with one of your colleagues. This is why it is important to cultivate your own internal environment. You always have control over your own attitude. By deciding to be aware of the habits and attitudes of our coworkers and how easily we are influenced, we have the ability to not only avoid the bad and learn from the good, but to cultivate a healthy environment for those around us.
Take VoiceNation for instance. We are a people growth company -which in Outlander-speak means that we believe in developing a team that is continually growing towards their fullest and best potential in order to affect our community, our nation, and our world. In order to do this, we implement intentional staff development meetings and even meet one on one with our managers each month. But in order to maintain a day to day healthy work environment, we have a no gossip/no drama policy – a dream come true. However, this “living environment” that we’ve created would not be possible unless each one of us took the time to work on our internal environments. It’s important to recognize that what you say, think and do, truly effects those around you. So, whether you’re a boss or an employee, take the extra mental energy and think about the environment that you’re creating for those around you. If you think that the change you want to see in your work place can’t possibly start with only one person – you’re wrong. As Mahatma Gandhi said “Be the change you want to see in the world.” It only takes one, and who’s to say that one is not you?