Bring your positive attitude to work

Skills to Pay the Bills curriculum teaches the importance of enthusiasm and a positive attitude in the workplace.

2019 Entrepreneurship Camp participants
2019 Entrepreneurship Camp participants demonstrate a positive attitude while promoting their new product. Photo by Debra Barrett, MSU Extension.

Let’s start with some questions. How many positive things happen to you in a day? What about in a week? Is a positive attitude learned and developed, or are you born positive? And for today’s trivia question: what famous cartoonist was once told by his newspaper editor that based on his sketches, he had no talent? That was Mr. Walt Disney!

A positive and enthusiastic attitude has several benefits while searching for a job as well as once a person is in the workforce. According to Business News Daily, “ Having a positive attitude in the workplace won't necessarily make you better at your job, but it will improve the way people view you as a person, so they may be more inclined to help you succeed and cheer you on.” As a new employee, Michigan State University’s Career Services Network suggests that during the first week on the job, a new employee should be “enthusiastic and tackle every task with a positive attitude.”

Maintaining enthusiasm and a positive attitude may help an individual deal with stress more productively. Positivity can foster a positive attitude in others and might help with potential promotion or advancement opportunities. A smile or positive thought can go a long way to brighten someone else’s day or make a task more pleasurable. A positive person is also more apt to be able to accept constructive criticism from an employer.

Before a person is on the job, they need to convey enthusiasm during the interview. The Skills to Pay the Bills curriculum gives examples of how an individual being interviewed might convey enthusiasm and a positive attitude, which includes:

  • Smile
  • Make eye contact
  • Sit up straight
  • Discuss work experiences and training in an enthusiastic, positive manner

DiceGot some dice? Find some family members or friends and try the Skills to Pay the Bills Power of PMA (Positive Mental Attitude) lesson. Take turns rolling a die and answer these statements either verbally, in writing or by drawing pictures. Roll a:

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

I think that a positive attitude and being enthusiastic in the world of work is learned and can be developed. Use these ideas and the Skills to Pay the Bills curriculum to help foster your positive attitude. Michigan State University Extension and Michigan 4-H Youth Development helps to prepare young people for successful futures. For more information or resources on career exploration, workforce preparation, financial education, or youth entrepreneurship, email us at

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