Tact is the ability to say something delicate or sensitive with grace. The effective communicator knows how to delicately balance tactfulness, but tact doesn’t come easily for some. Tact requires a balance of truth and love.
Warren Wieserbe said, “Truth without love is brutality”. This fact was clearly demonstrated for me early in my marriage. My husband was rambling on and on about something. I was so impatient that I got up, grabbed a pen (no I didn’t stab him), pointed to the tip and said, “See this! It’s a point. What’s yours?” Ouch! I cringe every time I recall that story. Yet, I share this because it clearly illustrates the hurt a tactless message can cause.
How can you stop the verbal aftermath and become better communicators? By becoming more tactful with these 5 tips.
1. Check your motives.
“Never start a sentence with “no offense”. – Gretchen Rubin
What is compelling you to say it that way? Are you trying to be clever? That was my motive when I grabbed the pen point. I thought it would be a funny way to demonstrate my frustration. Are you trying to impress a bystander? Trying to gain the esteem of one by putting down another is a tactic that seldom pays dividends. If your motives aren’t helpful, it is best not to say it.
2. Choose your words carefully.
“Tact is the ability to step on a man’s toes without messing up the shine on his shoes.” – Harry S. Truman
Choose words that clearly convey the message you need to send and nothing more.
3. Watch your tone of voice.
“Tact is the art of making a point without making an enemy.” ― Isaac Newton
Sarcasm is heard in the tone of voice. It drips from the lips like a sticky goo but pierces the heart of the hearer with lethal force. Use a tone that is appropriate for the message you are sending.
4. Phone a friend.
“Be honest, but also be tactful.” ― Leslie Dean Brown
If you are a “tell it like it is” person, you are appreciated for your honesty, but abhorred for your tactics. Before you say it, run it by your most diplomatic friend. Let it be vetted until you have learn to self-censor.
5. Don’t say everything that comes to your mind.
“Remember not only to say the right thing in the right place, but far more difficult still, to leave unsaid the wrong thing at the tempting moment.”― Benjamin Franklin
Part of being tactful is restraint. You don’t have to express every thought you think. Be strategic and deliberate about what you want to say.
What damage have you seen caused by a lack of tact? Leave a comment on this post below or by clicking here.