The way you begin your morning typically helps set the tone for the day. Several years ago my former team provided feedback to management regarding their work space, the environment and ways they thought it could improve. One particular comment struck me and though I couldn’t be sure of it, I thought it was directed at me. A team member who started the day a little later than most of us would come in cheery but said she felt as though she was entering a cold environment, where a greeting of hello or good morning could barely be uttered. It was me.

I used to chase my days, waking at 5am to get in a 30 minute workout, shower, breakfast while I checked emails before getting into the office around 8ish at the latest, with most team members strolling in around 9 or later. I was preoccupied with emails that flooded my inbox overnight, voicemail messages from yesterday afternoon and the other tasks that seemed to overwhelm my morning, all before seeing other team members. By the time that team member came in I was eyeballs deep in my self-inflicted “busily stressed” mode and would barely get a nod in.

After reading the feedback I began to contemplate what it must be like on the receiving end. I tried to justify my actions but in the end it came down to me not acting upon our goals of gratitude and appreciation in the workplace. She came in on-time for when she was scheduled, she smiled often and asked questions to get clarity on specifics, yet here I was being a self-centered brat, wrapped up in what I thought was a higher priority over taking that second to pause and say, “hello” or “good morning.” I immediately decided I’d make that adjustment and though I’m not 100% sure it changed her day, I did notice it began to change mine. It just felt like a nicer, lighter way to start the morning, in turn, making it easier to accept the challenges of my day and cheerfully greet everyone I encountered.

Fast forward a few years and I’ve found myself on the receiving end. I had entered an environment where once I set foot in the entry I was greeted with complaints about other employees and sour faces. I regret all the times I had never taken that moment before and was now experiencing it from the receiving end, probably tenfold. Eventually we got past that and some days are better than others, but I am still trying to remember to take that moment to pause and think of the energy I’m putting forth. Am I sending out negative vibes? Is the mood and morale being affected by my language, both vocally and physically?

How do you start your day? Are you the emoji your team members want to see you as?