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What Are Diplomatic Skills?

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Diplomacy is a skill set that enhances your ability to manage internal and external relationships in a job. Diplomatic skills equip you to navigate conflicts and challenging conversations. Primary abilities that fall within the diplomatic skills set include empathy and compassion, emotional intelligence, conflict resolution and tact.

Empathy and Compassion

Diplomacy often requires that you have empathy and compassion for the feelings and perspective of other people. Empathetic people have the ability to imagine what it would be like to walk in another's shoes. Someone who is diplomatic tends to avoid impulsive responses driven by selfish motives. Instead, a diplomatic person tries to approach discussions, negotiations and disagreements with intent to understand the other party's point of view. For example, a diplomatic personal sales representative uses empathy to understand the real problem or need of an individual prospect based on his point of view. Doing so allows the rep to get to the heart of the situation and present a compassionate and sincere solution.

Emotional Intelligence

Emotional intelligence and diplomacy go hand-in-hand. Emotional intelligence refers to your ability to manage your emotions, and to recognize the emotions and triggers of others. In a work team, a diplomatic employee becomes familiar with the communication styles, personalities, needs and motivators of the people with whom she works. Knowing that a co-worker has a desire for control allows you to act with more diplomacy when that co-worker asserts himself into a controlling role or position. Rather than acting on the urge to fight for control, a diplomatic person often yields to the needs of others to maintain peaceful relations.

Conflict Resolution

A primary benefit of diplomatic skills is that you avoid conflict by navigating safely through it when it comes up. Diplomatic people figure out how to protect the feelings of another person in a conflict while still asserting their perspective. Using a "cushion" in conflict communication helps in conflict resolution, according to Dale Carnegie Training. A cushion is language conveying respect for the other person's opinions before stating your own. You might say, for instance, "I really understand where you're coming from, Bob. However, here is why I think this situation is unique and requires a different approach."

Tact and Consideration

Tact is basic sensitivity toward others in communication. A person who is "tactless" acts or speaks freely without regard for the feelings of others. In contrast, a tactful person considers the environment, the people nearby and the potential group ramifications of a message. By considering these factors before speaking, a diplomatic person avoids making insensitive statements that easily offend others, attract ire and cause workplace tension. Someone without tact might say to a manager, "Jim, that's not my responsibility and I'm off the clock in a few minutes." While this statement may be true, the communication approach isn't positive with a boss. Instead, a tactful, more diplomatic person might say, "Jim, I'd be glad to help out, but I've got some personal responsibilities to get to. Can I contribute to this tomorrow?"


Neil Kokemuller has been an active business, finance and education writer and content media website developer since 2007. He has been a college marketing professor since 2004. Kokemuller has additional professional experience in marketing, retail and small business. He holds a Master of Business Administration from Iowa State University.

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