Consider this: you’re talking with a colleague and they make a comment you’re not particularly in agreement with. In fact, you strongly disagree with them, but you don’t want to hurt your relationship with this colleague. You know that by disagreeing with them it might lead to conflict or worse, being unable to work with this person closely in the future. So, how do you proceed?
I have had many years of experience in being diplomatic in my response to people. Having dealt with people from all walks of life in my career, in professional wrestling and in life itself. I’ve come across egos, stubborn personalities, strong-willed people and people who don’t have much care for other people’s opinions/beliefs. It’s only recently that I’ve realised my own skill at responding to these people so diplomatically. This is something I have learned to do over the years and in doing so, have learned to adapt and build strong relationships and connections with people of various backgrounds and personalities.
That is not to say that I don’t disagree with others, I do. I just ensure that when disagreeing, I do so in a tactful, considerate and diplomatic way that ensures both parties leave the conversation feeling understood and connected.
How do I do this? What’s my secret? Well, I’m breaking it down for you in 3 Easy Steps.
1. Be Self-Aware
Possibly the most important skill to have in life itself, self-awareness is about being fully aware of yourself. You should know what you’re thinking, feeling and saying. Why you’re doing those things and what you can do better. By being aware of yourself, particularly in the moment, you can be mindful of how you are presenting yourself so that you’re not instantly coming across as aggressive or attacking. Being self-aware, you can adapt to your audience and come across exactly as you intend to in the moment.
You know yourself best. If you want to come across as supportive and interested in what the other person is saying, then act as such. Ensure you’re presenting a kind and intrigued face, along with open body language that shows you are invested in the conversation with them and interested in their opinion. You will have a much better conversation with them in doing so.
2. Choose Your Words Carefully
It’s all about what you’re saying as well, right? The words you use can have a strong impact in what the other person hears. The best example is to use ‘I’ statements rather than using ‘you’. For example, “You shouldn’t have done that!” – using ‘you’ statements sends the other person into defence mode. They feel attacked, bullied and feel as though you’re not open to hearing their perspective or opinion.
Try instead to word it using ‘I’ statements such as, “I appreciate your attempt but have you considered another approach?”
Do you notice the difference? The use of the ‘I’ statement puts the ownership on yourself for your impression of what happened. The second part of the ‘I’ statement invites the other person to discuss other suggestions or solutions. It also gives them an opportunity to express their perspective or opinion. This is a more positive and solution focussed discussion.
3. Remove Emotion
Easier said than done, but reacting emotionally causes us to not think clearly, to potentially overreact and lose control. We respond best when we are in control and thinking logically. In order to do so, we need to remove emotion from the conversation. If you feel yourself getting upset, or emotional, then take steps to either maintain control of your emotions. If you are struggling to maintain control, it is best to end the conversation and ask to finish the conversation at another time when you are in a better headspace.
To control your emotions, I suggest looking into mindfulness techniques including belly breathing and grounding. Trust me, these techniques do work. But you need to be willing.
There you have it, 3 easy steps to being diplomatic. It truly is as simple as that, but it does take practice and a lot of willingness. It means willing to accept that the other person may not be willing to agree with your position on something, but that’s okay. We are all unique individuals with our own unique experiences, attitudes and beliefs. We do not all have to agree but, we can absolutely learn to communicate and work better with each other to accept each other’s differences and live together harmoniously.
Best of luck with your diplomatic conversations Brit Army. I know you got this! But, if you ever want to practice any of the above techniques, please don’t hesitate to reach out! I’m more than happy to help.