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Supervise your speech.

It has just dawned on you that your boss never seems to discuss serious issues with you without a mediator in the room. Your co-workers dare not debate you, and your friends walk on eggshells so as not to upset you. Few people try to match wits with you--and you're darn proud of it.

Your reputation as a master motormouth has served you fairly well in your career climb. For instance, your eagerness to stand up and assert yourself to management has ensured that your abilities and work performance are rarely questioned or overlooked when it comes time for choice projects, promotions, or pay increases. Lately, however, your insistence on fighting for every little concern you have seems to be causing more harm than good in your professional and personal life.

Perhaps your continuous desire to not be bullied has led you to feel that you must always have the last word in every conversation or argument. Needless to say, verbally beating your perceived adversaries into the ground over every issue is not a good way to get people in your comer--or make them want to stay there.

"This type of behavior will short-circuit your career," says Donald H. Weiss, president and CEO of Self-Management Communications Inc. "If you behave in that manner with co-workers, you'll eventually behave like that with your boss." It doesn't take a rocket scientist to see that this would be a bad move. "Even if you act sweet and lovable with your boss, the word will get back from your colleagues about how difficult you are to work with."

Everyone has to stand up for themselves every now and then. And "if it's worth having, it's worth fighting for" may be your personal mantra. But sometimes you'll be better off saving your tendency to spar for another time. "It will take a wake-up call--usually from the boss--to make a person aware of this behavior," says Weiss. But once that realization is made, here are three questions to ask before you spout off:

* Is this worth debating right now? If not, you should back off and save that issue for later.

* How should I approach the situation? Figure out the best way to get what you want without alienating those around you.

* How will this benefit others? The best way to get what you want, after all, is to show people how your desire will benefit them.

For more on holding your tongue, read:

* Don't Be So Defensive: Taking the War Out of Our Words With Powerful Non-Defensive Communication by Sharon Ellilison (Andrews McMeel Publishing, $22.95)

* Giving and Receiving Feedback: Building Constructive Communication by Patti Hatthaway (Crisp Publications, $12.95)

*How to Disagree Without Being Disagreeable: Getting Your Point Across With the Gentle Art of Verbal Self-Defense by Suzette Elgin Haden (John Wiley & Sons, $39.95)

* Managing Your Mouth: An Owner's Manual for Your Most Important Business Asset by Robed L. Genua (AMACOM, $17.95)
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Article Details
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Author:Clarke, Robyn D.
Publication:Black Enterprise
Article Type:Brief Article
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Sep 1, 2000
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