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PR 101 ~ The Art of Diplomacy

I’m a Sagittarian; and in astrology, we’re known to be pretty blunt. This isn’t a cop out for my being blunt, nor does it say that astrology is the be all to end all for supposed traits within that world… It’s just my life’s observations about myself, and the realizations that my bluntness has sometimes offended people. Sometimes I intended it (younger years); and, sometimes I don’t mean to offend others (most of my communications now).

I actually thought at one point in time, “If they don’t like what I’ve said, it’s their problem, not mine,” until this one day that caused a paradigm shift…

Example

Boss: “Jo, you’re so bossy.”

Jo: “Well, Ed, when a man’s assertive, he’s called a ‘boss.’ When a women’s assertive, she’s called ‘bossy.'”

That’s definitely not what my boss was wanting to hear. And, had I used the art of diplomacy, I might have kept that job longer. He was expressing a problem and I needed to pay attention. Instead I just shot back that answer, which – literally – sent a shock-wave through his body, like I had just zapped him with electric shock therapy. His body jerked and I thought… Hum…

Take II ~ If The Art of Diplomacy had been employed

Boss: “Jo, you’re so bossy.” [Like this wasn’t very blunt?]

Jo: “Well, Ed, I appreciate your feedback. I’m sorry that I offend you. Maybe my enthusiasm for just getting things done is misinterpreted as being curt? Thanks for sharing; I’ll work on it.”

That’s what my boss was wanting to hear. And, had I used this art of diplomacy, I might have kept that job longer.

Because of the circumstances of this feedback, I took a four unit course called the Psychology of Interpersonal Relationships. It was in this course that I learned several things:

  • The truth – most of the time – really does hurt, most especially when it’s delivered in a razor sharp way.
    • Does “kill the messenger” sound familiar?
  • Whomever you’re talking with, regardless of the situation, must save face in the heat of the moment.
    • Otherwise, you’ve missed an opportunity to get a point across.
    • You’ve got only this one chance presented to turn lemons into lemonade.
  • The use of equivocal language is an art, besides it being a science.
    • Bluntness is replaced with the following:
      • Putting yourself into the recipients shoes… How would he or she want to hear the response to a question of concern?
      • Timing is everything, so maybe no answer is the answer, until you’ve crafted your message in an unemotional way.
      • Why is the correct answer  (i.e., crafting it so the other person walks away satisfied?) so darn important?
        • Because both people have a point, and it has to come to neutral ground, or no one walks away happy.
  • Who hasn’t heard, “Think before you speak.”
    • Comments said in a flurry will later be regretted, in many cases.
    • Those comments could also come back to haunt us in ways we’ didn’t foresee, when we just emotionally spit them out.

A couple of really important lessons from Mr. Ed

  • He told me one day: “There are a lot of people in this company that I don’t like, but they’ll never know it.”
  • He also told me, “Sleep on that, and respond tomorrow, not today.”

 

The Art of Diplomacy ~ Equivocal Language

Why and when to use it?

  • To get your point across
  • To preserve the other person’s integrity
    • You’ve got to also care about the other person’s feelings, or none of this makes any sense
  • To maintain a relationship
  • To solve a problem

How to use it in speech?

  • Acknowledge and accept the feedback as having a modicum of truth in it.
    • “Well, Ed, I appreciate your feedback”
  • Apologize.
    • “I’m sorry that I offend you.”
      • As soon as you say, “Sorry,” the other person feels like he or she has been able to hit a bulls-eye. This allows this person to feel better and know that he or she is making progress.
      • Understand: Being sorry for the other person’s perception, does not make you guilty of anything, except for acknowledging the other person’s perceptions.
  • Give the person reasonable explanations for his or her objection – sell, sell, sell yourself.
    • “Maybe my enthusiasm for just getting things done is misinterpreted as being curt?”
  • Acknowledge the sharing.
    • “Thanks for sharing.”
      • It had better be sincere.
  • Continuing the relationship
    • “I’ll work on it.”
      • This, too, needs to be sincere.

 

When diplomacy is missing in good customer service?

  • When you state that the other person’s perceptions are unreal.
    • Remember, perception is reality.
  • When you don’t ask, “What can we do to make this right?
  • When you name call… never, ever ever name call.
  • When you try to turn it back onto your customer.
  • When you threaten the other person.

And, remember… Diplomacy, after a back and forth of going nowhere, is just senseless war; most especially if the other person doesn’t want to “hear” anything, except the sound of his or her voice going nowhere…

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