Three Questions to Diplomacy
Estimated Lesson Time: 3 minutes
One of the common characteristics shared by just about every great leader in history is the mastery of the art of diplomacy, or using tact and sensitivity in dealing with others. Diplomacy is more than saying or doing the right things at the right time; it is avoiding saying or doing the wrong things at any time. Although there are times when we want to tell others exactly how we feel, there are ways to communicate our message more effectively while strengthening relationships and being sensitive to the feelings and emotions of others. This is the art of diplomacy.
A few harsh words can destroy a relationship. Those who lack diplomacy find themselves in more negative relationships than those who are diplomatic. Those who lack diplomacy tend to burn more bridges (end relationships poorly) than those who are diplomatic. But diplomacy is more than just about preserving relationships; it can help you to make better decisions, and it can prove to be an invaluable asset in negotiating win-win solutions.
Although politicians have to be masters of diplomacy since their careers can easily be ruined by a few wrong words, everyone should strive to be diplomatic. Business people who say the wrong thing, at the wrong time, to the wrong people, not only put their own careers at risk, but put the success of their company, and all those who work for it, at risk as well. In our personal lives, the cause of many problems can be traced back to the lack of diplomacy. Fortunately, being diplomatic in your personal and professional lives can be as easy as asking yourself three simple questions.
- How will the other person feel? Would you want someone to say to you what you are about to say to them? Always consider the person’s feelings. It may take more effort to rephrase a statement, but it is well worth it.
- What assumptions am I making? The lack of diplomacy usually stems from making false assumptions. Generally, the assumptions made are that you are right, and the other person is wrong. Even if you are quite confident that you are “right,” if you are going to make assumptions, it is best to assume that the other person is doing what they believe is best. Those who assume “everyone is out to get them” are generally considered some of the worst communicators.
- Am I letting my emotions get in the way? Are your comments or actions fueled by emotion rather than reason? Remember that a few seconds of uncontrolled emotion can lead to a lifetime of regret. Respond, don’t react.
Great leaders are diplomatic. They understand the importance of dealing with people and preserving relationships. Good people are diplomatic because they understand the importance of being sensitive to the feelings of others, no matter who the “others” may be. Practice diplomacy in your personal and professional lives and you will enhance your reputation and relationships.
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Some discussion questions (some may not apply to this lesson):
- Have you implemented this idea in your life? How has it been working for you?
- Do you have any interesting stories related to this lesson? Do tell!
- What do you admire most about this person? (success biography days)