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Speak Up: Your Job Is At Stake!

How good are you at standing up for yourself?

Do you run the other way when done an injustice or when someone steps on your proverbial toes?

How do you react?

Now's the time to speak up and stand your ground! If you've never done this, you need to master this skill.

How many of you watched the "The Apprentice?" While the show is not the ultimate mirror of corporate life or a guide on how to be promoted, my clients have cited specific show episodes to highlight weaknesses they'd like to improve.

In the "Apprentice" episode during which Jessie was fired, she remained silent in the boardroom while her team members were putting her down. Her reticence was THE reason that Trump fired her. She was timid, and her inability to defend herself made it appear that she agreed with her detractors.

Have you declined to take a stand when you could have? How was that perceived?

Here's a reality check for deciding whether or not to speak up:

Fact #1:
If you are silent when others are accusing you or impugning your words or deeds, you run the risk of appearing to agree.

Fact #2:
If you are silent when someone is making a move into your areas of responsibility, it will seem that you don't care.

Fact #3:
If you are silent because of fear of reprisal or worry about unleashing your temper, you will have lost an opportunity to defend and advance what you believe.

Fact #4:
Not speaking up is worse than making a case but not succeeding.

Here's how this plays out in the workplace:

If a new co-worker or competitor infringes upon your established area of responsibility and you say nothing, you run the risk of losing the business or job! Better to acknowledge the salvo and decide the best course of action.

If it's a co-worker, you could calmly confront the person and re-establish your territory and/or educate him/her on the best way to work with you.

If it's a competitor, ask your client if the account is in play. You might find that the competitor has put in an unsolicited bid for the business! You could then reinforce your position with the client by underscoring your loyalty to the team and how you've contributed to its success.

Now for a specific example of the positive results of speaking up:

When I worked in the HR department of a large corporation, my boss, the HR Director, received a poor performance appraisal. After his unsatisfactory review, he proceeded to demean and blame his staff, making snide remarks within earshot of the person he was singling out. This went on for several weeks until I couldn't stand it anymore. I told the VP - HR, and he relocated the Director to another floor for the remainder of his time with the company.

This experience resulted in the removal of a person who was demoralizing the entire HR department. Further, I was offered the HR Director job on an interim basis, which became permanent several months later.

More importantly, I believe the VP-HR was impressed with my willingness to take a stand. The assertiveness I demonstrated was a trait that he valued and it established my ability to function successfully in a male-dominated department.

Finally, speaking up serves a threefold purpose. It allows you to convincingly articulate your "case." It provides a platform to exhibit a quality that your boss may highly prize. And if you succeed, it gives you the confidence to use your newfound "voice" in other areas of your life.

The next time you want to speak up, role play your "case" ahead of time with a trusted friend or coach. You may have more to gain than you know.

Dale Kurow, M.S., is an author and a career and executive coach in NYC. Dale works with clients across the U.S. and internationally, helping them to survive office politics, become better managers, and figure out their next career move.

Visit Dale's web site at for information about her latest E-book, Phone Interview Skills Sharpened Right Here!

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