Workplace Success: Enthusiasm and Attitude

Having a positive attitude in the workplace can help with potential promotions.
What is the difference between "You're hired!" and "Thank you for your interest, but . . ."? In a word: enthusiasm. Enthusiasm can mean the difference in not just getting a job, but succeeding in a job and even advancing in your career. A positive and enthusiastic attitude is a critical component of workplace success.

Employers promote employees who not only produce, but also motivate others in the workplace.
When employers look at prospective candidates, beyond skills, experience, and training, they look for those who demonstrate enthusiasm—those they believe will complete assigned tasks in an upbeat and cooperative manner. All other things being equal, a candidate who can demonstrate a positive attitude and eagerness to tackle the job will have an advantage over one who displays an attitude viewed by the employer as negative or disinterested. In fact, many employers would rather provide job-skills training to an enthusiastic but inexperienced worker than hire someone with perfect qualifications but a less-than-positive attitude. Managers sometimes worry that this type of person will not get along with supervisors and coworkers, treat customers disrespectfully, and not put much effort into his or her work. On the other hand, employees who are viewed as enthusiastic are known to provide good customer service, resolve interpersonal conflict effectively, and work productively with others.

There are many ways in which an individual might demonstrate enthusiasm in the workplace. For example, in a job interview, he or she might smile, sit up straight, make eye contact, and discuss training and work experiences in an upbeat manner. Once hired into a position, an enthusiastic employee will typically show up on time, show interest in his or her job, and demonstrate a willingness to listen, learn, and try new things. In customer service settings, an enthusiastic employee will approach customers proactively and offer assistance or seek out tasks and projects when there is down time. This positive attitude helps employees go above and beyond to get along with coworkers and managers—even difficult ones—and respond to constructive criticism with maturity and willingness to improve. Overall, an employee with enthusiasm comes across as someone who wants to be at work and who is willing to do what it takes to get the job done.

A positive attitude is an "I can" attitude. It's important for you to learn how to develop a positive attitude and, almost as important, how to showcase that to others, including employers. Turn negative thinking into positive thinking, and display enthusiasm during an interview and on the job.

Never underestimate the power of PMA!

PMA, or Positive Mental Attitude, is one's ability to maintain the belief that he or she can transform or change a tough situation into something better. This activity will help participants take difficult situations and find ways to empower themselves to turn negative thinking into positive thinking.

Ask yourself the following questions:

  • What is a positive attitude? If I have a positive attitude, what actions might I display? What does a positive attitude "look" like to others?
  • What is a negative attitude? If I have a negative attitude, what actions might I display? What does a negative attitude "look" like to others?

Then say: "Developing a positive attitude starts from learning to believe in one's self. In order to believe in ourselves, we must first understand our personal strengths." Consider and share your personal strengths.

PMA Activity

Write the below statements on a piece of chart paper, and grab a set of dice. Sit with a friend or a trusted colleague, or a small group, and take turns rolling the dice two or three times. Complete the following statement upon each roll:

  • Roll a 1: I am thankful for . . .
  • Roll a 2: Other people compliment me on my ability to . . .
  • Roll a 3: Something I would like other people to know about me is . . .
  • Roll a 4: I feel really good about myself when . . .
  • Roll a 5: I am proud of my ability to . . .
  • Roll a 6: Something nice I recently did for someone else was . . .

Note: If the people in your group know each other well, feel free to substitute questions that ask about the positive qualities of the participants.


Why do you think the statement for Roll #6 was included in this activity? It's because helping or "doing" for others often helps people feel good about themselves. When you feel good about yourself, you often demonstrate a positive attitude that can be seen by others.

Discuss with participants how internal feelings have the ability to impact those around you. How might a positive attitude help you on a job?

Journaling Activity

Do you think that attitude (whether positive or negative) is something people are born with or that they have power to control within themselves? Think about a time when your attitude (either positive or negative) impacted you and those around you. When is it most challenging for you to keep a positive mental attitude? What do you do to help keep yourself positive during difficult times?

Extension Activity

Keep a log for one week. Write down 50 (or 40 or 30) great things that happen each day. Include even the small things like these:

  • Someone held the door open for me.
  • I found a quarter on the sidewalk.
  • When I went shopping, the clerk at the store was really friendly and helpful.

The goal of this activity is to help you focus on the positive. Consider if you felt any different during the week as a result—either in your interactions with others or in your own feelings about yourself.

Save the bumblebees

U.S. Department of Labor (DOL). (n.d.). Mastering soft skills for workplace success: Enthusiasm and attitude [Excerpt] (B. Schuette, Ed.). Retrieved October 18, 2018, from