Diplomacy is the art of navigating conflict while maintaining positive relationships and working with others. Diplomatic people are level-headed in turbulent times, appropriately manage their emotions, and are motivated by finding the peace more than they are motivated to prove they are right. Diplomats avoid escalated conflict by actively listening to stakeholders, helping find amenable resolutions to disagreements, and making all parties feel valued. For this reason, Diplomats are frequently also skilled at Clear Communication.

A high score in the Diplomacy category indicates a strong degree of control over oneself, and an ability to find common ground. You understand the value of collaboration, and are willing to work to sustain a culture of teamwork. You are capable of being direct but inoffensive, and though you may not be energized by it, you can diffuse high-tension situations.

Diplomats need to have a strong control over many of the other disciplines. It’s important to keep lines of communication open, be direct, and stay adaptable. In addition, skilled diplomats must exercise a strong degree of control over themselves and have a knack for finding common ground between different parties.  Below some examples of exercises to improve your Diplomacy.

  • Check in with yourself before heading into any meetings or negotiations. This takes a great deal of self-awareness and self-control. Are you harboring any negative emotions that might affect the outcome of the meeting? If so, take a couple minutes to diffuse as much of the negativity as you can. If it helps, make a list of actionable statements you can do after the meeting to solve the problem that is affecting you. Try taking a deep breath, and imagining the meeting going well. It may even be useful to prepare the first few sentences you might say, to keep your tone positive and collaborative, and to play Devil’s Advocate with yourself about tough questions you might be asked, so that you can prepare to answer them in a calm and rehearsed manner.
  • Try turning your statements into questions. Questions invite your audience to think about your ideas, whereas statements can cause them to immediately defend their own position. Additionally, giving others the opportunity to talk and air their grievances can make them more open to compromise. People overwhelmingly just want to be listened to, and by providing an ear, you can help take diffuse any negative emotions they may have brought into the meeting as well. Share your own perspective in a non-accusatory way, and point out any common ground you have along the way. In this way, you can both negotiate collaboratively as opposed to defensively.
  • “Get into someone elses' 'odds are'. When I was in sales, I was taught that the 'odds are' that people are thinking about themseves and not about you. Think about a person in your project. Put yourself in his or her shoes. How is the project impacting her? What would make the project more successful from her standpoint? How might her perspective change over time? By putting yourself in her shoes, you'll better understand her reasoning. This exercise helps us see our project from different viewpoints. The ability to see the project from multiple viewpoints is a great start toward being more diplomatic.” A Sixth Sense for Project Management, Tres Roeder.

For more information about how to improve your diplomacy, see A Sixth Sense for Project Management, pg 91.