Understanding the art of diplomatic dialogue is an invaluable skillset to develop and foster, regardless of our role, situation or social standing.
One definition of diplomatic (and there are many) relates to a person who can be perceptive when dealing with others and who can achieve amicable resolutions or facilitate conversation. A person who doesn’t take sides in a conflict but who instead supports others to settle their differences is an example of someone exercising diplomacy.
If we lead, we need to communicate well with those who follow. If we parent children, we need to teach our children how to connect and engage meaningfully with others. If we influence, there is always scope for us to become more influential – in whatever capacity.
Relationships are Everything
Relationships are the foundation of society and lay a framework for the basis of our mental health, be this strong and robust or changeable and disempowered. How we experience life, in general, is influenced by the strength of our most established social and intimate relationships.
Diplomatic dialogue is vital in forming and sustaining our relationships, whether these are informal (marriage partner, daughter, or companion), or a professional connection (associate, manager, or client).
In a political sense, diplomacy has historically been referred to as the art and practice of conducting peaceful negotiations between representatives of states or nations. Once again, diplomatic dialogue is vital in developing and sustaining all human relationships.
Our communication skills affect how we resolve difficulties, how we settle disputes and the depth of trust we forge in our bonds with other people. A scarcity of healthy communications can sometimes result in unnecessary confusion, misinterpretations and arguments, and the spread of unhealthy communication patterns. None of us need this.
We navigate our way through our life experiences in a fashion that is unique to each of us. You will never understand how I’ve experienced my life in the same way that I’ll never wholly appreciate how you have experienced yours.
And in the same way, when it comes to how we each interact with each other, I will communicate in a way that makes sense to me, and likewise, you will communicate in a way that makes sense to you. A commonality we share is that we’re each the sole participants of our lives. No-one else could ever fully understand what it means to be us.
Problems arise in our discussions when the realities of two people seem conflicting or contradictory. Sometimes, the message that one person talks may be comprehended differently by another, which ends up triggering the misinterpretations that hinder meaningful discussion.
A common strategy people take towards facing viewpoints which they do not understand is disagreement. Regrettably, disagreement as a communication strategy certainly isn’t productive when it comes to obtaining new friends and positively encouraging people.
We each hold different world views, therefore learning to master the craft of asserting our perspective WITHOUT undermining the position of another is an intrinsically valuable ability to weave into our communication skills toolbox.
“Until you have learned to be tolerant with those who do not always agree with you, you will be neither successful nor happy.”– Napoleon Hill
Versatility and plasticity are essential if we’re to drive mature and courteous exchanges with others. Evading needless opposition from people is a surefire way to keep them fascinated in what we have to say. Using diplomacy also guides people into increased states of willingness and readiness to consider viewpoints that differ from their own.
Avoiding contradictions such as “but”, “however” and “I disagree” in our interactions goes a great way toward decreasing needless resistance from others.
Disagreement Vs. Agreement Frames
Disagreement often reveals rational rigidity and a plain disinterest in understanding another person’s viewpoint or outlook on life. There are, however, a few ways in which you can disagree with a person (or subject matter) without leaving the other person feeling corrected, criticised or undermined;
a. I understand your viewpoint, and… (here’s mine)
b. I respect what you say, and… (here’s my response)
c. Fascinating! How have you arrived at this conclusion?
It’s important to note that hearing and active listening are two very different skills. Listening involves the dynamic process of hearing and paying attention to what another person is genuinely ‘trying’ to say, not always just reacting or responding to what the other person does say.
The agreement frame allows us to converse amicably with others of differing viewpoints while neither creating resistance in others nor discrediting our values OR our beliefs.
The agreement frame gives us a way of communicating diplomatically that will enable us to get our message across without resistance. It’s a win-win form of verbal Aikido – redirecting force rather than trying to defeat it.
The agreement frame is a subtle and powerful way to build rapport between two people who may otherwise find it extremely challenging to look at things through each other’s eyes.