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by Marion Grobb Finkelstein

Whether we like to believe it or not, when we need a break, when we're bone tired, when we want desperately to sharpen the axe, sometimes what we sharpen instead is our tongue.

We lash out when we're tired. It can ruin our communications, and in turn, destroy our relationships. A costly price to pay for not taking care of yourself. The irony? In trying so hard to give so much to others, by giving to the point of ridiculousness, by depriving ourselves, we in the long run deprive the very people we are trying to serve.

Think about the surly sales rep snapping out a curt retort to a client's reasonable question. Or the colleague who is asked if he'll attend a meeting and responds with dripping sarcasm when a simple yes or no would suffice. No one deserves to be on the receiving end of that, and you certainly don't want to put yourself in a position where you feel compelled to dish it out.

This long weekend, you have a chance to take a breather. You deserve it, and so do the people who interact with you. They deserve to have the best you, your "A" game.

We are responsible for our communications, regardless of the bizillion excuses any one of us could offer on a given day. Being tired is an explanation -- not an excuse. We're responsible for letting ourselves get to the point of exhaustion knowing that it may well put our communications in jeopardy.

What's that noise? Oh yes, I hear it now. It's the sound of those carrying the guilt, self-importance, and martyr chromosome shouting, "But Marion, I don't have time to take care of myself. Besides, it's selfish for me to do so when so many other people need my time". Wrong. Double wrong. Make that a triple.

It took me a long time to learn this lesson, so let me save you a couple decades. Here it is: taking care of yourself takes care of others. Let me repeat that -- by putting yourself and your needs on the agenda, you are better equipped to help others.

When we are stressed to the nines, stretched in a million directions, and operating on empty, we have absolutely nothing left to give. We must be full to have something to give to others. Even a car racing down the highway takes a break to fill up again. You deserve the same.

Being at the bottom of our proverbial tank affects our communications. We have no reserve for patience. Tact and diplomacy fall by the wayside. We snap at the craziest things. We misinterpret the actions of others and feel like martyrs. Such communications and perceptions put our relationships with colleagues, bosses, employees and clients at risk.

Remember -- we can't read people's minds, just their actions, and when we're exhausted, we read them wrongly. We find insult and disrespect where none was intended. We pick arguments and get our noses easily out of joint. We want to strike back and sometimes we do.

Instead, move from a place of scarcity to one of abundance and begin by being generous to yourself. Do something that makes you feel refreshed and whole again. You owe that to yourself and to those in your life both professionally and personally. Avoid getting to the point that you're spitting out sharp words because you never know when you'll have to swallow them. Take time to sharpen the axe, and trust me, you'll feel less tempted to sharpen your tongue.

Until next time, Better communication, better business, better life, Marion Grobb Finkelstein Keynote Speaker / Corporate Trainer / Author

* This article is 2010 Marion Grobb Finkelstein.
Communications expert, author, professional speaker Marion Grobb Finkelstein teaches individuals and organizations across Canada and beyond, how to improve their businesses and their lives by improving their communications. Sign up for her FREE weekly e-newsletter "Marion's Communication Tips" at Interact with her at

For a list of 100 ways to take care of yourself and have some "you" time, visit our Article: Self Care for Moms!

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