How to Develop Relationships through Diplomacy and Tact

by Claire Valenty on August 30, 2012

in Business & Office Etiquette

The benefits of tact and diplomacy

There are two fundamental components to developing a professional relationship: building trust and building rapport.

Building trust means developing a reputation for being honest and having integrity. This won’t happen from words or talk alone – it needs to be backed up with action. It means you should keep promises, meet deadlines, and admit it when you make mistakes. Most of all, never do anything that will affect your reputation as an honest person.

Building rapport means finding common ground with someone else. Rapport exists when two people communicate and bond on an unconscious level. When there’s rapport, the relationship is cooperative and harmonious. Rapport is essential for truly effective communication, and you develop it by matching the other person’s communication style. This makes the other person more open to engaging with you.

Tact is essentially recognizing the delicacy of a situation and saying the most appropriate thing.

Diplomacy is respecting people and their roles, and speaking to them in a respectful and pleasant manner. In doing this, you make a connection.

Diplomacy and tact will also build rapport – creating more positive relationships, presenting you as someone of true character, and earning you the respect of others.

Communicating with tact and diplomacy helps you to communicate truthfully – but without harming your credibility or professional relationships. Being open and truthful creates trust. To communicate with tact and diplomacy, it may be necessary to adjust your communication style. Doing this builds rapport, as it shows others that you respect them and their perspectives.

Often, people’s communication styles show them to be arrogant and condescending. For example, if someone comes to you with a problem, avoid giving your advice too early. Jumping in too soon with unasked-for advice gives the impression you believe you have superior intellect and greater experience. Even if this is true, it’s a tactless and undiplomatic message to be communicating. Hold off with your advice, and instead listen and empathize.

It’s not always easy to empathize – especially if you can’t personally relate to the situation or if, in truth, it strikes you as being insignificant. However, empathy is a powerful tool. This is especially true in the workplace as corporate cultures don’t generally encourage emotional displays. Empathizing with others in the workplace – showing them that it’s fine to show their emotions, that you understand, and are sensitive to their problem – is the best way to build rapport.

In order to develop and nurture professional relationships, you first need to build trust and rapport. Building trust entails developing a reputation for having integrity and being honest. Building rapport entails identifying common ground with another person. This common ground could be in terms of thought, behavior, or energy level. One of the best ways to build trust and rapport with others is to communicate using tact and diplomacy.

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