How’s your physical breath? Unfortunately, if you really want to know, you have to ask some brave soul close enough to have an opinion. If there’s no one willing to venture near enough, that might also be a clue.


The sad reality is that other people usually know we have bad breath before we do.


If we carry “bad breath” into the land of metaphor, it works nicely for another kind of “foul aroma.” This kind of “bad breath” will also send people running for safe distances. Let’s call it,¬† a halitosis of attitude. The attitude we breathe out of our words, actions and expressions is not only detectable, but can derail collective ingenuity in short order.


Often other people pick up on our attitudinal bad breath before we do.


It is possible to have a blind spot around foul attitudes. We may be unaware of the influence a mood has on us or on those around us. But there are a few ways to check your “attitudinal breath.”


  • Ask someone you trust. A trusted colleague or friend is usually willing to get close enough to give the feedback we need.
  • Notice the quality of your personal or tribal ingenuity. Foul attitudes diminish or completely wipe out ingenuity.
  • Notice if other areas of your life are suffering (e.g. sleep, nutrition, exercise, relationships). Foul moods may be fleeting, but if we keep them around they can root themselves in our daily routines. That’s when they can cause real havoc.