Saying that somebody has an attitude is a fairly common occurrence in English. While an “attitude” can generally apply as an umbrella term to many things (both positive and negative), in this article, we’ll explore the saying and how it’s painted in a negative light.
What Does It Mean To “Have An Attitude”?
To “Have an attitude” means that somebody is often acting disrespectfully or arrogantly. Usually, someone will have an attitude when they don’t get their way and will project their negative emotions onto the people they’re talking to. It’s almost always used negatively.
The meaning of “attitude,” according to The Cambridge Dictionary, is “a feeling or opinion about something or someone, or a way of behaving that is caused by this.”
There’s also a section underneath the meaning in The Cambridge Dictionary that helps us with what we’re looking for specifically, which shows that “attitude” means that “if you say that someone has an attitude, you mean that the person seems unwilling to be helpful or polite.”
While the first definition is useful to show us what “attitude” means as a whole, it’s not the exact example we’re looking for. Native speakers will only ever say that someone has an attitude when they’re negatively talking about them.
That’s why it’s good to look at the negative meaning, which is also listed in multiple Dictionaries.
Is It Bad To Have An Attitude?
So, we’ve spoken about the negative connotations of having an attitude, but there’s more that we can dive into.
Having an attitude is bad nine times out of ten. When someone uses the phrases “you have an attitude” or “stop giving me attitude,” it means that you’re in a bad mood or you’re unhelpful or arrogant in some way.
People don’t say that you have an attitude if they’re talking about a positive reaction. However, it is definitely possible to have a positive or happy attitude.
An attitude is typically used to talk about a feeling or opinion, usually about a person or a thing. We might really enjoy spending time with the person or doing the thing, meaning that we can have a good attitude about them.
Just because “having an attitude” is negative as a quote doesn’t mean it’s always that way.
- He has a good attitude towards his education.
- You have an attitude, and I can’t stand it.
Here, we’ve included two examples to show you the differences between the two phrases. We use “have an attitude” to say that somebody has a bad attitude. If we want to switch the meaning to a more positive light, we’ll include “good” as the adjective to indicate this.
- He has an attitude towards his education.
By simply removing the adjective “good,” we’re changing the meaning of the phrase to the negative sense. In this case, the person we’re talking about now has a bad attitude towards his education. That’s how easy it is to talk about it in a negative light.
What Are Signs For A Bad Attitude?
So, what should you look out for when somebody has a bad attitude?
Generally, people react differently when they have a bad attitude, and there are a few ways they might show up. We’ll look at some of the most common places you might hear about someone having a bad attitude.
Children are frequently accused of having a bad attitude, especially when they’re growing up and developing their own independent thoughts and critical thinking.
A child with a bad attitude will often be ignorant of the rules set by their parents. They’ll be challenging to speak to and will usually not pay much attention when conversing with their parents. They’ll often be snarky and rude when there’s no need for it.
Towards Other Superiors
Children can also have bad attitudes in other areas, but it doesn’t just have to be children. While a child might disrespect their teachers with bad attitudes just like their parents, employees can just as easily disrespect their bosses or coworkers.
Someone with a bad attitude towards other superiors usually makes for a difficult employee. They won’t be receptive to training and will usually be working at their own pace (which is often far too slow). If it’s obvious they’re bored all the time; they usually have a bad attitude.
Someone could also have a bad attitude towards a thing rather than a person. In this instance, we’ll talk about people having a bad attitude towards specific events (like sporting events or competitions, for example).
Someone who has a bad attitude towards an event is someone who often complains about it. If they’re competing, they’ll come up with excuses as to why they might not be winning. If they’re spectating, they’ll moan about what they’re watching and often think they know better.
Finally, you can have a bad attitude towards just about anything; it doesn’t have to relate to people or events. For example, if you’re not interested in a topic at school or in a program on TV, you might have a bad attitude towards it.
A bad attitude towards something can be shown by someone lacking interest. They’ll often make their opinion known to everyone and will try their hardest to bring everyone else’s mood down.
What Is A Positive Attitude?
We’ve covered the signs of a bad attitude, but as we have mentioned previously, that’s not the only kind of attitude you can find.
There are, of course, the lucky few of us that have positive attitudes towards certain things. Usually, if something excites us or a person is really fun to be around, we’ll have a positive attitude towards them.
A positive attitude is an opinion we hold that sparks a positive and happy reaction. We’ll often be in a good mood and receptive to new ideas and will always have a good time. Someone with a positive attitude is usually capable of brightening everyone else’s day.
If you want to aim for anything in your life, having a positive attitude should be on top of the list. With a positive attitude, you can unlock things you didn’t even think possible.
You’ll advance further in your career, and people will always look to you as a role model. It’s better to have a positive attitude than a negative one.
Also, if you do have a positive attitude, you’ll never hear the saying “have an attitude” referring to you (unless it uses the adjective “good”).
Examples Of What It Means To “Have An Attitude”
Having an attitude can apply to just about any situation, but for the most part, it’s a negative thing. We want to share some examples with you, highlighting both the good and the bad sides of using “have an attitude” in a sentence.
To use “have an attitude” negatively, we simply write it as is. To use it positively, we would need to include a positive adjective beforehand.
- You have an attitude, and I need you to calm down before we can continue talking about this.
- She always has such an attitude, and I can’t stand it!
- I have an attitude towards things that bore me, and I struggle to hide that!
- You have a good attitude, and I can tell you’ll go far in your new job.
- That’s a great attitude to have! I’m impressed!
- Why do you always have an attitude when she talks to you?
- I’m your mother, so you shouldn’t have an attitude like that with me!
- Having an attitude is not appropriate in the workplace. You get paid for what you do, so suck it up and enjoy it.
We included a few positive and a few negative situations using “have an attitude” in various forms. You’ll often see the word uses jumbled around (like putting “to have” after “attitude”). Either way, the meaning will stay the same.
What Does It Mean To Have An “Attitude Problem”?
The worst thing you can hear about someone regarding their attitude is the phrase “attitude problem.”
If someone has an “attitude problem,” it’s always a bad thing. It means they have no control over their bad attitude, and it makes other people feel uncomfortable to be around them.
An attitude problem is something that needs to be worked on. If you know someone who has one (or somebody said that you have one yourself), therapy is often the recommended solution. An attitude problem can get severely out of hand if you’re not careful.
Synonyms For “Having An Attitude”
Finally, let’s look at some alternatives to saying “have an attitude.” This way, we can open up our list of vocabulary to keep things interesting.
- Change your view
Telling someone to change their view is a good way to encourage them to better their attitude. Of course, it’s not as common to use as simply saying “having an attitude,” but it works to draw attention to their misbehaviors.
- Poor disposition
If someone has a poor disposition, it means they are never in a good mood and are difficult to talk to. You can use any negative adjective in place of “poor” as well for this one.
Martin holds a Master’s degree in Finance and International Business. He has six years of experience in professional communication with clients, executives, and colleagues. Furthermore, he has teaching experience from Aarhus University. Martin has been featured as an expert in communication and teaching on Forbes and Shopify. Read more about Martin here.