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Being diplomatic at work doesn't mean gritting your teeth while people yell in your ear or vent their frustrations. It requires skill in managing competing ideas or interests without inflaming tensions, and steering those ideas to a peaceful resolution. Many jobs in the business world require diplomacy, especially those with supervisory functions. A diplomatic employee exhibits several characteristics. Most are fortified by practice and repetition.
Listen carefully and respectfully to your co-workers, especially those whose ideas differ from your own. Ask questions of these co-workers to ensure that you fully understand, and can also articulate, their points of view. This shows you are open minded and willing to learn from others.
Refrain from criticizing your coworkers. If you disagree with a coworker about an idea or decision, don't tell him you think he's wrong or question his competence. Instead, state your case in calm and professional terms, and offer specific reasons for why you feel the way you do. Work toward developing a solution rather than merely defending your own point of view.
Avoid participating in workplace gossip or other behaviors that might pit one side of the workplace against another. Never criticize someone else in public. If you have an issue with a colleague, discuss it behind closed doors in a one-on-one setting.
Demonstrate compassion, support and encouragement to coworkers who disagree with a particular strategy or agenda. Take the time to hear their side of the story, but make the point known that when the chips are down, you will support the company mission. The two points do not have to be mutually exclusive.
Build a consensus by soliciting feedback and ideas. When it comes time to negotiate a compromise between different points of few, do so in a way where both sides emerge as winners.
Recognize when conditions deteriorate and take proactive measures. Steer the conversation back to problem-solving, not sniping. In necessary, consider calling for a short cooling-off period to prevent tensions from building.
Maintain your composure when tempers flare. Be mindful of your body language. Rolling your eyes, frowning or appearing disinterested will undermine your best diplomatic efforts.
Acknowledge your mistakes when they occur. Apologize promptly and let everyone know you will be careful that they don't happen again.
Share credit with others for accomplishments. Building a sense of community and cooperation will go a long way toward people viewing you as a diplomatic employee.
Demonstrating diplomacy is a skill that develops and improves over time. Read what you can about workplace diplomacy to bolster your learning curve.
- Quintessential Careers: The Art of Workplace Diplomacy Distinguishes Successful Careerists
- Certification Magazine: Workplace Diplomacy: Why It’s Critical to Your Career Success
- Smart Pros: Practicing Diplomacy in the Workplace
- Etiquette Guide: Communicating with Diplomacy in the Workplace
- Bloomberg Business Week: Turn Yourself Into an Office Diplomat
- The Washington Post: Career Coach: Don’t just be sorry -- here’s the right way to apologize
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