Tact & Diplomacy

Road to NicevilleNot being sarcastic, cruel, and confrontational; saying what needs to be said but being sensitive to how it is said and received

Tact is the ability to describe others as they see themselves. Abraham Lincoln

If indeed you must be candid, be candid beautifully. Kahill B Gilbran

Tact is the art of making a point without making an enemy. Issac Newton
Some have no concept of tact. They engage someone in serious conversation by charging ahead insensitive to what is said and how it is said. They can be aggressive, crass, and hurtful. This approach is like pouring salt on open wounds. Lack of diplomacy causes the listener to become enraged and defensive or hurts their feelings and wounds them. Those without tact have little influence or ability to change the attitude or actions of others.
A drill instructor in the military is a prime example of “tactless”. This is for the purpose of building military discipline. Recruits are a captured audience; having no choice; having to listen and comply even though being verbally abused. This does not work well in situations where people do not have to subject themselves to such treatment. They can ignore the verbal abuse or get up and leave.
No one likes being belittled or criticized. Tactless people harm others. Most of us deploy defense mechanisms and protective barriers to protect ourselves against what we consider harmful or unwanted intentions. Tactless efforts at constructive criticism or sensitive communication is often wasted effort. Many listeners will not listen to what they consider verbal abuse. Effective communicators use tact. Diplomats are expert communicators. Many of us are quite tactfully and diplomatically challenged in our personal communication skills.
The ability to be tactful is a highly desirable trait. The tactful engage others in a cool, calm, and collected manner. They carefully break the ice and allow others to get comfortable in both the tone and direction of the conversation. Credibility and trust is established before heading into more serious subject matters. The other person becomes less likely threatened and more willing to listen and engage in serious topics. They are also more likely to be responsive and open to constructive criticism. Their barriers are down.
Tactful people are diplomatic. They present difficult and volatile subject matters in the same manner they would want it delivered to themselves. They try to avoid hurt feelings by trying to convey a desire to help rather than hurt or criticize. They establish credibility and trust. We can all benefit by having more tact and diplomacy. The art of tact is a great way to win friends and influence others. Those who are skilled in interacting with others are likely to be more successful than those who carelessly step on toes and hurt feelings.
Challenge: How tactful and diplomatic are you? Be honest. When you talk to others about difficult subjects, are they tuning in or tuning out? Observe body language, are they open and receptive or fortified and impenetrable with arms crossed and their barriers up? Use more tact in how you engage others. Give others space and dignity, do not step on them or abuse them. Be considerate. Use the Golden Rule. Treat them as you want to be treated.

Wisdom: Diplomacy: the business of handling a porcupine without disturbing the quills. Author Unknown

Spiritual: (NIV)
The Lord is gracious and compassionate; slow to anger and rich in love. Psalm 145:8

A quick-tempered man does foolish things. Proverbs 14:17

A hot-tempered man stirs up dissension, but a patient man calms a quarrel. Proverbs 16:32

Tact is so dependent on our intent. When kind and considerate we will come much closer to being tactful. The more we have a spirit of love, tact uses true compassion and empathy. We will be able to say what needs to be said and do so in a loving and kind way. If we are angry, upset or in a rage, we are likely to say damaging and hurtful things. The more we let God counsel and guide us, the less likely we are to have a problem with this.

Prayer: Help me to be governed by a spirit of love in all that I say and do.


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