Sklover’s Monday Thought: Diplomacy at Work

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“Diplomacy is the art of saying ‘Nice Doggie’ until you can find a rock.”

– Will Rogers

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At work, perhaps more than anywhere else, it is so very important to your job security and career success that you bear in mind and use to your benefit the great value of diplomacy. The simplest definition of diplomacy that I know is “the art and science of maintaining peaceful relationships.”

Over the years, more times than I can count, I’ve received client phone calls reporting that the client has been unfairly treated, even terminated, using words and feelings of anger, at times sharing a desire for some kind of revenge. To my clients’ dismay, I often suggest that they instead respond with expressions of kindness, gratitude and appreciation. Something like, “It must be hard to lay off so many people . . . is there any way I can help you with the transition needs you face?” The phrase I most commonly use is “Perhaps offer your Manager a hug.”

I remember one instance in which my client, after employing this insight, was offered accelerated vesting of her stock options worth almost $1 million. In another instance of our client offering “unexpected understanding” our client was then offered a later date for departure. Why? Because his Manager had recently been diagnosed with Stage 4 cancer, and she decided to recommend our client be offered her position, due to his “unusually skillful diplomacy under pressure,” which he accepted. He remains with his employer to this date, 12 years later. All due to the offer of a hug instead of the threat of a “fistfight.” You see, I enjoy wise negotiation – if possible – instead of years of litigation . . . and so do my clients.

And, if the “honey” approach of attempted diplomacy does not work, well, there’s always the opportunity to use instead the more common “vinegar” approach based in the use of threat. But if you use “vinegar” first, afterwards the “honey” approach just won’t work.

Think about it. This perspective and these skills are part of the enhanced diplomacy we all need to consider so very often in today’s employment environment.

This quote was sent to us recently by Valentina L., a Mentee-Client of our firm who has proven to be a fast learner. Thanks to you, Valentina!

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