The renowned mathematician and physicist Isaac Newton is believed to have said, ‘Tact is the knack of making a point without making an enemy.’ Truer words have never been said, especially when it comes to the importance of diplomacy in corporate communication. Leaders need to be well-versed in the art of diplomatic communication to ensure continued opportunities and connections.
As a leader in your organisation, you realise the importance of teamwork and people working well together. Using diplomacy, you can ensure that the people in your organisation work cohesively, with you, to accomplish your goals. In the annals of history, we often read about President Kennedy’s gold star accomplishments at diplomacy that helped tremendously during the Cold War and the Cuban missile crisis. In contrast, former President Trump is considered to be one of the most undiplomatic leaders ever. The differences are clear. A good leader has to essentially be well-versed in communicating with diplomacy, whether they’re leading a nation or an organisation.
How can diplomatic communication help you as a leader deal with challenges? How can it help you company grow and become better at achieving its goals? Here are some of the ways in which diplomacy in communication can help you and the organisation.
- You can gain trust – Stephen M. R. Covey talks about how trust has changed its meaning in the post-pandemic world, where there’s an active gap between what company leaders say and what they mean, and hence, how difficult it is to trust them. Gaining the trust of colleagues, employees and stakeholders is thus one of the top priorities of our times. Leaders must engender trust within the organisation by learning to listen to what employees need, and then acting in a way that is beneficial to everyone. Using tact when you listen and understand issues before you set out to resolve them, will gain trust of your stakeholders. Empathising with employees and sharing information help in making employees believe that their goals and yours are common.
- Improving your and the company’s brand image – Modern day CEOs epitomise their company brand, and hence, their actions reflect on the company’s image. Handling sensitive matters, issues of diversity and being ethically competent need a touch of diplomacy. A leader’s reaction to adversity is observed by everyone, and hence it’s important that you strive to control and direct your reactions to maintain your company’s image. Losing your temper, lashing out, or putting forth strong opinions are a thing of the past, especially in difficult times.
- Building lasting relationships – Relationships, be they between countries or colleagues, require diplomacy and tact to grow and improve. Leaders who use diplomatic communication skills such as admitting to mistakes and accepting blame but giving credit where it’s due, endear themselves to their stakeholders. This leads to loyalty and a sense of shared goals in making the company successful.
- Tactfully resolving challenging situations – Every company sees its share of challenging situations arise and it falls to leaders to ease the conflict and soothe ruffled feathers. Doing this without showing favouritism, and yet achieving what needs to be done is not easy. Communicating with others in a way that is true to the organisation’s beliefs without being brutally honest, in other words, by being diplomatic, is a skillset that will help leaders face and resolves challenging situations in this unpredictable world.
Honesty in communication is important but this doesn’t mean that leaders have to be blunt in their criticism. On the other hand, people can see through instances when leaders are too careful and tactful and thus, they can be perceived as weak. Thus, diplomacy is a communication skill that has to be honed and prepped while also ensuring a balanced outlook.
Photographer: Mary Lederhandler