Coupon Accepted Successfully!


The Art of Tact and Diplomacy

Tact and diplomacy are methods used to aid effective communication, especially during negotiation and when attempting to be persuasive or assertive.   Using tact and diplomacy appropriately can lead to improved relationships with other people and are a way to build and develop mutual respect, which in turn can lead to more successful outcomes and less difficult or stressful communications. Effective use of such skills comes from being able to sense accurately what another person is feeling or thinking at any given time and then responding in such a way as to avoid bad feelings or awkwardness, whilst at the same time asserting or reflecting your own ideas and feelings back in a delicate and well-meaning fashion.


Defining Tact and Diplomacy
The ability to assert your ideas or opinions, knowing what to say and how to say it without damaging the relationship by causing offence.


Prerequisites for Successful Tact and Diplomacy

As well as a level of common sense, good judgement and practice in various situations, the effective use of tact and diplomacy relies on some other key skills, namely:
  • Attentive Listening:  You need to be able to listen to not just what is being said but also how it is being said in order to understand, and react appropriately to, others. 
  • Emotional Intelligence:  People with higher emotional intelligence can usually use tact and diplomacy more naturally in communication.  Emotional intelligence is a measure of how well we understand our own emotions and the emotions of others. 
  • Showing Empathy: As an extension to emotional intelligence, empathy is your ability to see the world from another person’s perspective. 
  • Assertiveness: The reason for using tact and diplomacy is very often to persuade or influence others to think or behave in a certain way.  Assertiveness is fundamental to this process and a skill that many people lack. 
  • Rapport: Rapport is closely linked to tact and diplomacy as well as emotional intelligence and good manners. 
  • Politeness:  Being polite and courteous, respecting other people’s view-points and cultural differences is important in many interpersonal relationships. 

Strategies for Tact and Diplomacy

Understanding what is the most appropriate behaviour and in any given situation can be problematic; this is due to the unpredictable nature of communication and of human relations generally.

The following strategies are designed to help you think about how you can plan for and use tact and diplomacy effectively:


 When you’re planning a potentially difficult conversation you should first focus on knowing what you want to achieve: what is your favoured outcome?  Write it down and think about your reasons. Try to take a step back from your personal opinions and think about the facts surrounding the situation.

Consider and write down what the objections might be from others.  Think carefully about your answers to their concerns; demonstrate that you have considered their opinions or arguments.

Do not enter into negotiations in an angry or stressed way.  Try to remain calm and keep an open mind.  Find out the facts, as well as what is and what is not possible before you react.

  • When communicating, listen to what the other person (or people) has to say. Watch for non-verbal communication, such as body language, and their tone of voice to help you understand.  Hold back your own opinions and ideas until you have had chance to understand the other persons point-of-view, and then plan your responses carefully to fit with the feedback you are receiving.
  • Negotiate.  If what you seek is in conflict with the other person’s ideas, you may have to discuss how sacrifices can be made to provide a better result for both of you in the long run.  Mutual sacrifice is usually seen more favourably than one-sided sacrifice.  Aim to reach a compromise which results in a win-win situation. 
  • Strengthen your argument by offering time-scales of when you foresee the benefit of your proposals being reached. Be precise in giving figures and dates. Favour logic and fact over personal opinion. Have something written or drawn out in advance, if it helps.
  • If possible turn statements into questions.  Rather than directly voicing your opinion, turn your statement into a question for the other person to think about.  This not only leads somebody to think along the same lines as you but also makes room for discussion of what interests you and what may potentially benefit both parties.  This is particularly useful if you are not entirely sure what you are able to achieve or exactly what is needed to overcome a problem.  This strategy often allows for more exploration of options – a more open approach than just stating your opinion.   
  • If the conversation gets heated, try to give yourself room to respond in ways that help rather than inflame a situation.   If you can, catch yourself at the moment your gut reaction wants to take over: take a breath and give yourself time.  Tell the other person that you need to think about what they just said, rather than feel obliged to answer immediately.   Take control of a situation rather than becoming out of control and risk saying or doing something you may later regret.  Taking control of social situations in a way that leaves both parties feeling comfortable with the outcome is an important part of showing tact and diplomacy.
  • Keep an eye on the prize!  Keep your preferred outcome in mind, try not to get distracted, go off on a tangent or get bogged down in irrelevant details.  Remember to be assertive – being tactful and diplomatic does not mean bowing to pressure or giving up on what you want.

Test Your Skills Now!
Take a Quiz now
Reviewer Name