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Curbing that quick tongue at work

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in Your Office Coach

Question: My problem is my mouth. I tend to say whatever is on my mind without thinking about the consequences. For example, I recently met with one of our top executives. When he asked my opinion of him, I replied, “At first I thought you were a snob, but now you seem OK.”  That was not a good answer. I also said too much in a meeting with my boss’s boss. After describing a problem with one co-worker, I went on to say that all the other women on my team have become less friendly and sometimes talk about me behind my back. I could tell that this was not well-received. Now I feel as though these managers are uncomfortable with me whenever I’m around them.  How can I stop myself from saying too much?” — Motormouth

Marie’s Answer:  Your problem seems to go beyond simply speaking your mind. Try to view the situation objectively and consider the following points:

•    Several of your comments reflect an extreme concern with what others might be thinking about you. In reality, however, most people are probably preoccupied with their own affairs and not focused on you at all.

•    This hypersensitivity can easily lead to faulty assumptions. For example, you seem inclined to give a negative interpretation to others’ behavior, believing that they feel superior or don’t like you.

•    When you combine hypersensitivity with a quick tongue, damaged relationships often result.  To create a filter between your brain and your mouth, practice pausing before you speak.  This will allow you to consciously choose your words. 

For a more balanced outlook, develop the habit of questioning your negative conclusions about others. See Improving Your "Self-Talk" for some specific tips.  But if these patterns seem to be deeply entrenched, you may wish to consult a professional counselor.

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