I know a thing or two about personal diplomacy, mostly because I can be very blunt if I don’t concentrate on my language and approach.

By personal diplomacy, I mean talking to people about something difficult in a way that does not wreck your relationship with them.

Like anyone I can be careless, and to be honest, I’m not always great at putting my knowledge into action. I could blame this a bit on my Autism/Asperger’s Syndrome, but I hate it when other people do that. Really, it is just the way I am.

After a chat with one of my brothers the other day, I realized how little many people understand about the language (Or lack of language in some cases) they use. When approaching someone about something you think they should change or think about, it pays to use a bit of honey to open them up to your point of view.

Again, I’m not usually good at this. I don’t have any particular qualifications. I do know, however, that I react badly when I feel like I’m being accused, or criticized for something I did not think was a problem.

This issue readily arose in my writing groups both past and present when people either wanted more information or told me I was conveying the wrong information. They all may be right. Some of them were definitely better at conveying this in a way that encourages me to be perceptive than the reverse.

So. Diplomacy.

It’s useful on every level, from interpersonal to professional to international. Obviously, there are differences in technique as the scale and stakes change. However, I think starting from a place of generosity has real benefits at least on the smaller scales of interaction.

Anyway, I wish I could be more specific about the reason this is on my mind, but I’d rather keep my friends’ information private. Anyway, I hope this post can at least serve as a reminder to think about adding a bit of kindness to your interactions, especially the tense ones.

Thanks for reading.


2 thoughts on “Diplomacy

  1. Groundrules are very useful for this. As is humor. None of us would bother communicating unless we were passionate.

    These days it’s easier to just walk away, so I love that you touched on generosity: time is the most precious thing we have to give nowadays. If I give my time, and I speak passionately, there should be no doubt in anyone’s mind how much I value them and support their process.

    I realize though that this time-giving metaphor is not yet as ubiquitous as “food is love” or “the shirt off my back.” Should be though!

  2. I think we all feel bad when criticized for something we didn’t think was a problem; the truth is, some people are mean. However, speaking as someone who has caused offense in the past, without meaning to, I don’t make comments on people’s work unless invited, and unless I care. I have not found writers groups very useful, too much like hugboxes, if you can recommend a good online group then I’d love to hear about it.

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