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When hiring someone for a job, which is more important: attitude or aptitude? Many hiring managers prefer to hire for attitude. This approach is in line with a Harvard study on employability that says that 80 per cent of one’s success at the workplace is attributed to attitude and only 20 per cent, to one’s aptitude.

This is both interesting and alarming as not many of us are fully aware of the significance of a positive attitude. On top of that, most of our efforts tend to be placed on obtaining the best aptitude. This is reflected somewhat in most parents’ obsessions with academic excellence alone.

According to Wikipedia, an aptitude is a component of a competence to do a certain kind of work at a certain level. Outstanding aptitude can be considered "talent". An aptitude may be physical or mental. Aptitude is inborn potential to do certain kinds of work - whether developed or undeveloped.

So, what’s the difference between attitude and aptitude? Attitude is a feeling which could be positive, negative or just indifference towards a person, object, event or idea. Aptitude is a competency to do certain kinds of work. In other words, attitude is associated with character and virtues, while aptitude is linked to desire and competency to do a task.

The good news is that both attitude and aptitude can be nurtured. Since attitude is 80 per cent more important, it’s imperative for parents to ensure that their children are as positive as they can be.


Like many other things, creation of positive attitude also begins at home. Research has shown that children and teenagers who spend lots of time with the family tend to have a higher self-esteem than those who don’t. This isn’t surprising as it is during family interactions that children are usually accorded full attention to share their stories and communicate their feelings.

In terms of emotions, we must ensure that our home is a safe place for everyone to share their feelings - good or otherwise. Let everyone knows that you’re always there for them. On other occasions, you might be the one needing a listening ear. Help each other to share the emotional baggage. No family member should suffer alone and in silence.

Attitude towards other people is also developed at home. Ask your children to respect one another in their daily interactions. Ask them to speak nicely. Recognise the symptoms of stress and strains in their communications. Don’t let fights and issues remain unresolved for a long time. Call for emergency family meetings when things get worse. Monitor your kids’ interactions to see if they’re genuinely respecting each other, and not just the parents.

While you’re at it, equip your kids with problem-solving skills too. This can be achieved by engaging and empowering them on many fronts. Start with asking them for their inputs and opinions when you have family-related issues to resolve. For example, recently I called all my kids for a quick meeting when we had some scheduling conflicts. I was amazed at some of the ideas that came from them. At the same time, I could see that they felt proud that we took the time to listen to them offer their solutions to real issues. Their self-esteem was affected positively.

There are many ways parents can help to improve their children’s attitude, beginning from the home. Don’t overlook this aspect as it contributes to 80 per cent of your children’s future success. People have paid good money to acquire skills like this, but parents today are privileged to know that they can achieve better results just through daily interactions, albeit with a bit of awareness and effort.

Zaid Mohamad coaches and trains parents to experience happier homes and more productive workplaces. Reach him at [email protected].

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