Some people just seem to have a knack for navigating conflicts, creating positive environments, and reaching compromises peacefully.
They can handle even the most difficult situations with grace, calmness, and tact.
Wouldn’t you like to have this kind of superpower? I sure would.
While you might think, as I used to, that people were born with such skills, it actually comes down to some characteristics that you can develop in yourself.
Today, we’ll look at ten of the most important ones.
Let’s dive in.
Empathy is the secret weapon of naturally diplomatic people.
The ability to put themselves in someone else’s shoes allows them to tailor their actions to specific individuals.
Due to this characteristic, diplomatic people can resolve conflict quickly; or even avoid it altogether.
They spend less time dealing with roadblocks caused by misunderstandings and can focus on moving forward harmoniously.
While we don’t often associate such a characteristic with the business world, empathy is essential for managers, who must be diplomatic.
Don’t take my word for it, though.
According to a 2021 survey by EY, 90% of US employees agree that empathetic leaders result in higher job satisfaction, and almost 80% said it decreases turnover.
It’s no wonder that as far back as 2017, more 20% of US companies had empathy training available to their managers.
To harness the power of empathy, check out our full post on how to practice it.
Empathy is an immense strength, but all diplomatic people also have this next trait.
Open-mindedness is a core characteristic of naturally diplomatic people.
Rather than desperately clinging to their biases and preconceived ideas, they welcome ideas that differ from their own.
But how does this enable them to be diplomatic?
Well, this mindset creates a base for dialogue rather than dismissal, allowing them to solve problems amicably.
Not only this, as noted by Very Well Mind, being open-minded can help people to gain insight into themselves and others.
This further contributes to a diplomatic person’s ability to find peaceful and agreeable solutions.
Due to their ability to take on new ideas, they can foster an environment where conversation can be had, and agreements can be made.
Of course, diplomatic people also need to know how to hold it together in the face of stress.
That’s where this next trait comes in.
We all know that emotions can get out of control in stressful situations.
Things blow up, and we end up saying things we don’t mean and things that we go on to deeply regret.
Rebuilding relationships of any kind after such outbursts of emotion is no small feat.
Naturally diplomatic people know that remaining level-headed in the face of stress is crucial.
This quality not only creates an environment free of drama but also enables clear thinking.
Because diplomatic people remain composed internally, they can continue thinking rationally and avoid impulsive actions that can escalate a conflict.
They still have emotions, of course, but they refuse to be governed by them.
“To lose patience is to lose the battle.”
Related to the previous point, patience is another key trait of diplomatic individuals.
There are a couple of reasons patience is essential.
First of all, as noted by Indeed, it takes patience to understand everyone’s point of view, and having it makes you less likely to give in to a frustrating situation.
Additionally, diplomatic people follow Dale Carnegie’s principle: “Let the other person feel that the idea is his or hers.”
And sometimes, this takes time.
People need time to think things over; we can’t expect people to come to their senses instantly, despite how rational our argument may be.
However, having empathy, composure, and patience won’t do you much good unless you have this next characteristic…
…you need the ability to adjust to new circumstances.
Naturally diplomatic people know this. They have honed the skill of being able to adapt to changing conditions.
As far as I have seen, there are two kinds of adaptability that diplomatic people have perfected.
Firstly, they can adapt their communication techniques based on who they are trying to convey a message to.
You wouldn’t talk to a young child like you would talk to your boss at work.
This is an oversimplified example, but you get the point; different people respond to different communication styles.
The naturally diplomatic among us are adept at recognizing what style might be best and making changes as necessary.
Second of all, they can adapt how they look at problems. If a particular approach is not working, they can change it without hesitation.
In other words, they are not rigid in their methods or problem-solving, which allows them to navigate complex issues with flexibility.
Some years ago, I was the manager of an adult language school.
It was my first management position, in which I was responsible for quite a large team of people. And what a learning experience it was.
Anyway, having held the position for a few good years, my replacement asked me for advice on managing the team.
I hadn’t thought about it in those terms, but on reflection, one word kept coming up; safety.
“Make your team feel safe” was what I told him.
What this needs is confidence.
Diplomatic people need to gain the trust of others, and you cannot do this if you do not believe in yourself.
Naturally diplomatic people present themselves with confidence, and as a result, others are likely to trust them and follow their lead.
True confidence also means you aren’t threatened by beliefs different from your own, which helps diplomatic people to remain composed (see point 3) in the face of stress.
However, we must be careful with confidence, as it can easily come across as arrogance.
That’s why you need the next trait if you want to be diplomatic.
While confidence is crucial, no one wants to follow someone who is a know-it-all.
Diplomatic people know the difference between arrogance and confidence.
And it has a lot to do with humility.
Arrogant people are often excessively proud. It screams insecurity and is frankly quite unbearable.
Truly confident people are genuinely humble.
In other words, they know that their achievements are a result of not only their efforts and hence, don’t scream about them.
They admit to and are accountable for their own mistakes. They are grateful for and realize the contributions of others.
They let other people talk rather than dominate the conversation.
You get the point.
If you want to learn more about humble behavior, we have an entire post on it here.
8) Cultural sensitivity
It should be obvious that diplomatic people are almost always culturally-sensitive.
Not only that, though, they have a genuine appreciation for diversity.
They respect cultural differences and do not dismiss cultural norms and customs that are not their own.
They make it their business to educate themselves on the social protocols and be aware of taboo behaviors of other cultures.
This allows them to create an environment of inclusivity, build trust and engage in effective communication.
There will always be challenges and setbacks.
Diplomatic people accept this and use resilience to keep moving forward.
They don’t let slowdowns or disappointments get them down.
‘Calling it quits’ is not part of their vocabulary.
They know that this type of attitude can easily spread, creating negativity and insecurity. This is a recipe for the conflict they seek to avoid.
In the face of defeat, they bounce back and keep working toward their goal with enthusiasm, and in the process, inspire others to do the same.
Though all of the previous characteristics are essential, the next and final one is possibly the most important.
Those who are naturally diplomatic are genuine.
They don’t fake confidence or humility. They don’t pretend to be empathetic; they really are.
While “faking it until you make it” can fool some, it will only get you so far.
Actual authenticity is the key to the long-term trust you need to be truly diplomatic.
The bottom line
Naturally diplomatic people possess all or at least most of these characteristics.
If you would like to be more diplomatic, I hope this post has given you some food for thought.
If you are missing a few, it’s not too late to develop them.