The Betari Box

Linking Attitude and Behavior

Also known as Betari's Box, Betaris Box, and the Cycle of Conflict

The Betari Box

The impact of attitude and behavior on each other is a closed loop.

© iStockphoto/MikeRickword

Natasha's boss mistrusted her. This wasn't because she was incompetent – rather, it seemed to be a matter of principle for him.

He spent most of the day watching people to make sure they did their work correctly. He watched the clock to ensure that everyone's lunch hour was exactly one hour long. He even checked their mailboxes to make sure they weren't receiving personal messages.

Not surprisingly, Natasha and her colleagues resented their boss's mistrust. As a result, they stopped making decisions for themselves; they just asked him what he wanted when a decision had to be made, and they stopped taking responsibility for what they were doing. This reinforced the boss's belief that they weren't capable of working under their own initiative.

Have you ever seen a cyclical pattern of behavior like this in your workplace? It's common in organizations, and it's illustrated in a simple model called the Betari Box.

In this article, we'll show you what the Betari Box is, and you'll learn how to use it to improve the mood of your workplace.

The Betari Box

The Betari Box, seen in Figure1, is a model that helps us understand the impact that our own attitudes and behaviors have on the attitudes and behaviors of the people around us.

Betari Box Diagram

Our attitude plays a large role in the behavior we exhibit. When we're feeling motivated and positive, we smile, we compliment our team, and we empower those around us. When we're feeling negative, the reverse is often true – we can be impatient, we get angry at our people, and we might even yell or argue.

These behaviors often affect the people around us. They then turn those negative behaviors back on us, and the conflict gets worse.

Although the idea of the Betari Box is quite simple, understanding it can help people learn to recognize when they're stuck in a negative cycle.


It's not clear who originated the Betari box, or where the name comes from. If you know, please contact us!

Examples of the Betari Box

Using the Betari Box is all about recognizing negative cycles, and making a change within yourself to break out of them. The following examples show what can happen when you are – or are not – willing to make this change.

Example 1:

Imagine that your drive to work is very stressful. The longer you sit in traffic, the more frustrated you become – and by the time you get to the office, you're in a negative mood.

Your attitude causes you to use inappropriate negative behaviors. Your temper is short, so you yell at your assistant and then shout at a colleague when you discover a mistake in the report she just gave you.

Your negative behavior, in turn, affects your assistant and colleague. They are upset by your attitude and behavior, and they then repeat them in other negative ways. Your assistant is sulky and unhelpful for the next few hours, and your colleague is sarcastic and resentful towards you as well. No real communication takes place.

Example 2:

Imagine that it's just after lunch. You've had your negative drive into work, and you've already yelled at your assistant and your colleague.

As you sit at your desk angry, you realize that this all started with something incredibly silly: your drive into work. After thinking about this, you decide to exit the cycle. You begin by offering your assistant a genuine apology, which he accepts with a smile. You also apologize to your colleague, and you offer to work with her on the report to improve it. She also accepts your apology, and she thanks you for being willing to help fix her mistake.

The end result: productive, meaningful communication can now take place, simply because you were willing to stop your negative thinking and step out of the cycle.

Example 3:

The next day, your commute is just as bad, but you use relaxation techniques   in your car, and you make a real effort to be positive as you go into the office. You greet your assistant and your colleague warmly. Soon they're pleasant back to you, and you all have a positive, enjoyable, productive day.

Key Points

The Betari Box illustrates how our own attitudes and behaviors directly affect the attitudes and behaviors of people around us. When we're stuck in a negative cycle, then it's up to us to stop that cycle by changing our attitude. This will positively impact those around us – and therefore break the cycle.

Apply This to Your Life

  1. Remember that your attitude, good or bad, affects everyone around you.
  2. The next time you're in a negative mood, stop what you're doing. Take a few minutes to assess why you're feeling so negative. Negativity often begins with an insignificant event (like spilling coffee or getting stuck in traffic) and simply gets worse from there. Consciously decide to break out of the cycle by focusing on something positive.
  3. If a colleague is stuck in a negative cycle, then remember that you have a choice in how you respond. Just because that person is negative to you doesn't mean that you have to be negative back.
  4. If a team member is persistently grumpy and rude, explore the reasons for that negativity with them. Consider talking about the Betari box, and highlight the consequences of their behavior for team productivity and for their own quality of life.
  5. It's possible to get into downward spirals where someone is grumpy with you, you get defensive and grumpy back, and so on. Where you see this happen, see if you can agree to "press the reset button", and be pleasant to one-another.
  6. Practice empathy at work  . Empathy can also get you out of a negative cycle once you're in it.

* Originator unknown. Please let us know if you know who the originator is.

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Comments (7)
  • Yolande wrote Over a month ago
    Hi Usoro

    A very warm welcome to the Mind Tools Club and to the forums as well - we're glad to 'hear' your voice.

    It's so good to hear that you've been able to use this tool to your advantage. Indeed the only thing in the situation that we have control over is our own attitude. That controls our behaviour which in turn influences the attitude and behaviour of others. It's actually a huge comfort to know that we can control situations just by being in control of our own attitude!

    If you'd like to share some more challenges or ideas that you'd like input on, please feel free to do so on one of the forums such as Career Cafe Central. It's great to get perspectives from people from all around the world - and that way we also all get to help and learn from one another.

    Usoro, if you need any help around the forums, please don't hesitate to let me know. I'd be only too glad to help where I can. Hope to 'see' you around often!

    Kind regards
  • lesnnie wrote Over a month ago
    I can, completely, relate to this. I used to have difficulty managing transferred aggression. I feel I don't deserve the ill treatment, especially, when I'm not responsible for the other person's bitterness but this tool has come to my rescue .

    Kind regards,
  • Helena wrote Over a month ago
    Hi Marat

    Yes indeed, the Betari Box loop is a specific example of a reinforcing loop - where an increase in one element leads to an increase in the other elements, and then a further increase in the first element, and so on.

    This is often referred to colloquially as a "downward spiral".

    Best wishes

  • Yolande wrote Over a month ago
    The Betari box is such a useful tool once you've learnt how to be aware of those cycles of attitudes and behaviour. The most difficult things sometimes is to create awareness within yourself and then censor your thoughts and feelings first. And it's quite possible to still say "Yes but he/she should change their behaviour as well and ...." - but it has to start somewhere and the only person you have control over, is you.

  • marat wrote Over a month ago
    The diagram looks pretty much like the [url=]reinforcing loop.
  • bigk wrote Over a month ago

    You can also look at the cycle as bi-directional, with "my attitude", "your attitude" by changing the position of "my behaviour", "your behaviour" to see reaction and action.

  • stasiaandtarek wrote Over a month ago
    Hello ...

    i was reading the article and it is very helpful in the way of showing the right reaction after an unlovely action or doing from someone at work, and that is right because it is related on the negative and positive positions of our mood. also when i try to see on the betari box i see a logical relations to make it as a cycle, but i just think and ask my self if that means exactly to creat the right relation between the workers and their boss to creat the way of developing it ( this relation i mean ) or just to save the stability between them in order to find the fast way of fixing the mood to react on the right way and have the right attitude??

    For me i think that : this relation it should be exist to be developed not just from one side , also to be based from understanding that nothing can be perfect but it can be always complete, when we can fix it throug controlling it by obliging our energy to be always positive as our moral find for us the space for our attitude , and to not deal with our negative energy away of the situation by taking some minutes , but by using the situation by itself to convert this energy to be positive and share it same time by the right behavior after the wrong behavior, and this is the space of the personality to be active.


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