How to Deal with People More Effectively

Learn what it means to be diplomatic.

Lisa B. Marshall
4-minute read

How to Deal With People More Effectively

This week’s topic – diplomatic communication, or how to deal with people with tact and skill.

Today, I’m going to cover just three simple rules that I believe are fundamental to dealing with people more effectively and being diplomatic. (And I promise to continue the discussion another episode).

I would be remiss if I didn’t mention that although the three rules I’ll talk about today are my rules, these rules were heavily influenced by Dale Carnegie’s classic best seller, How to Win Friends And Influence People For some of you, these might not seem to be rules of diplomacy, but basic tenets of human nature.

So let’s get started with the first rule.

For sure you can bring more people to your side by gentle persuasion and appreciation than by hostile confrontation.

Diplomacy Rule # 1: Don’t Criticize

In Carnegie’s book, he says, "Criticism is futile because it puts a person on the defensive and usually makes him strive to justify himself. Criticism is dangerous, because it wounds a person's precious pride, hurts his sense of importance, and arouses resentment." I think this holds true for criticism of others and even for self-criticism. The bottom line is that criticism makes people feel bad. So don’t do it!

And to be clear, I’m not suggesting that you should never point out flaws. I think that if your role is to help someone (or something) grow, it’s your responsibility to point out areas for improvement. However, along with the flaws, you also need to provide strategies for overcoming the problems. That is, you need to present problems with solutions, not just problems. And notice I said solutions, with an “s.” If possible, provide alternative solutions to help the other person still feel in control of the final solution.

Finally, keep in mind the old saying, “You can catch more flies with honey than vinegar.” For sure you can bring more people to your side by gentle persuasion and appreciation than by hostile confrontation.

In short, the first rule of diplomacy is don’t criticize.


About the Author

Lisa B. Marshall

Lisa B. Marshall Lisa holds masters with duel degrees in interpersonal/intercultural communication and organizational communication. She’s the author of Smart Talk: The Public Speaker's Guide to Success in Every Situation, as well as Ace Your Interview, Powerful Presenter, and Expert Presenter. Her work has been featured in CBS Money Watch, Ragan.com, Woman's Day, Glamour, Cosmopolitan, and many others. Her institutional clients include Johns Hopkins Medicine, Harvard University, NY Academy of Science, University of Pennsylvania, Genentech, and Roche.