People with effective communication skills possess the ability to convey information to others in a way that makes it clear and understandable. Their unique gift sets them apart from the rest. It gives them the power to coach, persuade, negotiate, and present spot on messages that often produce winning results. Accomplished communicators tend to be influencers and the driving forces for many major decisions being made in the workplace and even at home.
Our ability to communicate is a learned behavior since infancy. While there are many facets to good communication skills, one that is well worth mastering is diplomatic communication.
What is diplomatic communication? How can it change your life for the better?
A diplomatic communicator is someone who convinces people to change through logic, consideration, and respect. These individuals deliver their messages in a way that offer transparency without becoming brutally honest. They are proficient at getting what they want through tact and persuasion with limited risk of harming their relationships with others.
To develop your skills as a diplomatic communicator, apply these techniques to interactions that require positive outcomes.
(1) Determine your intentions. Before delivering a message, clearly define your motivations and desired outcomes. What do you expect to accomplish and why? Plan out your course of action based upon your audience and the potential threats to your success. Nothing is full proof when people are involved, so be willing to appropriately respond to the unexpected.
(2) Identify your mode of delivery. Understand your audience and the most effective way to convey your message to them. That said…even when it might be more convenient or comfortable for you to deliver your message via email, text, a memo, or by phone, your best approach for any serious communication is in-person. This will enable you to better control the direction of your interaction and to reduce the probability of misinterpretation.
(3) Establish rapport. Initiate your communication in a way that will make others feel comfortable around you. Put them at ease with upbeat statements before launching into the heart of your message. Soften your language by using “I” and “We” to describe your feelings. For instance: instead of saying, “You are lazy and incompetent” rephrase it to “I am concerned that you aren’t living up to your full potential.” While somewhat difficult, always end your exchange on an optimistic note.
(4) Be careful with your wording. Words are a powerful force, so choose them wisely when speaking or writing to others. How you phrase your words can build people up or rip them apart. And, once your words have been expressed, be prepared to live with the consequences. Your words may become impossible to take back, forgive, or forget.
(5) Listen to understand. Meaningful communication is a two-way street. Be willing to listen to the perspectives of others and to consider their merits before presenting your own point of view. Even when you may disagree with what is being said, remain polite and respectful throughout the exchange. Use the knowledge gained from this opportunity to formulate a final decision that will achieve the best possible outcomes for all parties involved.
(6) Monitor your attitude. You may genuinely like some people over others or have a bias against certain ethnic groups or types of individuals. Do not let your attitude about someone determine your behavior. You can treat a person fairly despite your personal preferences.
(7) Be assertive. To obtain positive results during your interactions with others, display a sense of self-confidence, determination, and decisiveness. Take control of the conversation without coming across as being aggressive. There is no room for acting confrontational, hostile, argumentative, or defensive if you hope to achieve a diplomatic resolution.
(8) Cultivate mutual civility. The relationships you build in the present will enhance the quality of your future. You establish goodwill whenever you treat others with dignity and respect. Conversely, you might find yourself with more enemies than friends if you continuously employ a communication style that is hurtful and subversive.
Communication is about what you say and how you say it. Regardless of your desired outcomes, the words and approach you choose to use can have a lasting impact on your rapport with others. Bullying people around might give you immediate results but the ultimate price of alienating too many people will most likely come back to bite you. Practicing diplomacy is your better course of communication whenever you hope to minimize risk and maximize results. So, think before you say or write something that you might later regret.
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Written by: Patricia K. Flanigan, Smart Strategies for Successful Living
Patricia K. Flanigan has worked in higher education for over 28 years. She holds a doctoral degree in Organizational Leadership from the University of La Verne as well as a M.A. in Latin American Studies and B.A. in Anthropology from the University of California, Los Angeles. Before retiring and moving to Idaho in 2015, she served as the dean of online education and learning resources at Saddleback College, a large community college in Southern California. She currently consults in higher education, volunteers for AARP, writes for a local magazine, and serves as an Affiliate Faculty member at Boise State University and a contributing member to LEARN Idaho. Since February 2017, she has been the founding director for Smart Strategies for Successful Living, a community-based website designed to promote quality aging. As an educator, her focus is to inspire others to live and age well.
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