There are many special traits that successful people possess, one of which we are not born with is tact. Utilizing tact is not only how we deal with others in the workplace but how we represent ourselves and our surroundings. Tact begins with the ability to listen, receive and perceive information and filter through it in order to respond appropriately with words or body language. Tact can be subtle or overt but is glaringly obvious when absent.
The art of listening is severely underestimated in the workplace and does not simply involve your ears. It has been said in a battle of egos, the only winner is the one that does not engage. Diplomacy carries tact implicitly but more importantly, it is the gift of “picking your battles”. Not having to win every conversation, point or story is an act of selfless grace, which allows the other party to flourish and in many cases want to give you what you want.
Ensuring emotions, in a professional setting or the workplace, are not a motivating factors in communication, requires a person of great tact. By taking control of the time and pace of a conversation or project involves pausing to reflect and respect for the gravity of another’s words or opinion. Tact has been thought of as the art of convincing others of their brilliance. Retrieving information involves convincing the other party that they know more than you do.
While some people recognize the importance of tact, they also believe it is an appeasing strategy, a way to dance around and make everyone happy. While the results hopefully are similar (sans dance music), tact does not placate a situation without action arising. Biting ones lip and placating another are not workable solutions for conflict or difference of opinion. For the sake of putting action into words let’s redefine tact.
Tact is Taking Action Covertly without Threat.
Thinking before we speak and choosing our words and actions carefully are important aspects involved with possessing tact, but are useless without action. ‘Tact’ by definition is a noun, (but by all means should be a verb) that involves having a “keen sense” of what to say and do and what is “appropriate”. Realistically the great leaders in politics and business would have no use for this skill if it did not translate into a progressive action. Ultimately, this sixth sense serves no purpose without knowing how to put those keen senses into action.
Using tact in personal and professional situations will get you a desirable outcome without resulting in a loss of power. Negotiating your way through difficult or everyday situations should begin with asking yourself if you have acted with tact, taking a moment to pause and reflect is worth the second it takes.
Remember that translating tact into cooperation and collaboration and ultimately a cohesive and co productive workplace involves Taking Action Covertly without Threat.