There are four main categories of people you may have professional relationships with — superiors, subordinates, coworkers, and customers. Each requires a different approach for communicating with tact and diplomacy.
Superiors can have hectic schedules. Time limitations may require you to use a more direct communication style with them. This doesn’t have to come at the expense of pleasantries though.
Superiors may also sometimes want to talk to subordinates about their own problems. Superiors may have to make unpopular decisions as part of their jobs, but it’s important for subordinates to be sensitive to their superiors.
When communicating with subordinates, there are a few things you can do to ensure you’re tactful and diplomatic. They include staying calm and professional, providing clear expectations, showing appreciation, and giving criticism privately.
When communicating with coworkers, you can be informal and still be professional. In fact, tasteful humor can help you make connections. A good way to ensure a conversation is appropriate is to consider if you’d say the same thing if the entire workplace could hear.
Tactful and diplomatic conversation also usually involves supporting team members and working collaboratively with them. Working against a coworker or providing unsolicited advice shows insensitivity.
It’s easy to get defensive and aggressive when a customer is critical of a product or service. However, it’s important to listen carefully before responding and to demonstrate professionalism by not taking the issue personally. You should ask pointed questions. Then, you should try to focus on only the issues that the customer has brought up.
Each professional relationship requires a different communication approach. This is especially true in difficult situations where tact and diplomacy are needed.
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