Communicating with Diplomacy in the Workplace

by Claire Valenty on August 30, 2012

in Business & Office Etiquette

Being aware of the corporate culture

Being diplomatic is more than just being polite. It requires you to consider and follow some specific guidelines.

Although tact and diplomacy are two different aspects of communicating, both must be brought together to communicate effectively. Being diplomatic requires you to be aware of your organization’s corporate culture. In simple terms, this involves being “political” or “politically correct.” Tact is more about recognizing and being sensitive to the delicacy of a situation and other people.

There are two general principles that should be followed to be diplomatic in the workplace – be aware of the corporate culture of the organization, and be a good coworker.

Being diplomatic requires awareness of the organization’s corporate culture. There are several layers to an organization’s corporate culture. Superficially, corporate culture is the way things are done in an organization. Beneath this, corporate culture is the system of informal, unwritten rules. At a deeper level are the common values that guide these rules, with fundamental assumptions being deeper still.

It’s important to “tap into” the corporate culture, and ensure that what you say and do are consistent with it. Failing to adhere to the way things are done will be particularly obvious to others – and may come across as undiplomatic.

Being a good coworker

Being diplomatic in the workplace is also about being a good coworker. This means that you should develop an awareness of your coworkers. It also means that you give credit where due, and share blame when things go wrong. It’s also important that you don’t make negative comments about coworkers.

Developing an awareness of your coworkers is one of the easiest ways to avoid problems with them. It means making an effort to learn about the pressures they’re under. You can develop awareness simply by watching how they work – knowing what their responsibilities are, what their daily challenges are, and what their busy periods are. It’s also useful to talk to them – simply talking to people instead of speculating on their decisions or actions is the best way to get perspective.

It’s important to give credit to others who’ve contributed to any achievement or success. You should also take your share of the blame or responsibility for mistakes or failures. Taking credit for others’ achievements will cost you dearly in the long term. It’ll badly affect your relationship with others, and make them less inclined to assist or cooperate with you in the future. When speaking of successes that have been a team effort, always use “we” instead of “I” to make it clear that others were involved.

Don’t ever make negative comments about a coworker – or any comment that you wouldn’t make directly to that person. Never make a comment – either oral or written – when you’re angry or frustrated. If you do have to make a critical comment about someone, be sure that you know all the relevant facts before you form – and, in particular, express – your opinion.

Effective communication means communicating with tact and diplomacy. To be diplomatic in the workplace requires you to be aware of the corporate culture of the organization, and be a good coworker. Corporate culture includes things such as the way things are done in an organization; the system of informal, unwritten rules; the common values that guide these rules; and the fundamental assumptions. Being a good coworker involves following some basic guidelines. You need to develop an awareness of your coworkers, give credit where due, and avoid making negative comments about coworkers.

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