Tact – The Language of Strength
Is there ever a need to verbally correct or critique? Well…actually, yes. The bigger question: is it possible to do so in such a way that not only will the person accept your correction, but truly embrace and utilize it?
Yes, so long as you keep the human ego in mind and realize the key is tact.
People often ask why others have such a difficult time accepting their constructive criticism. One reader asked:
“Whether I’m correcting my children or employees, I feel as though they always have a negative reaction to what I say. This disturbs me. When I correct, it’s only for their own good and to help them to become more effective. Is there something I’m missing here? Why are they so resistant to my helping them?”
Often, whether or not people buy into what we say depends less upon logic than it does on how their ego accepts what they hear.
And this is why they seem to resist your corrections, your critique, your help and your advice. Yes, even when it’s for their own good!
Wouldn’t you agree that, generally speaking, few people truly enjoy being corrected or criticized? I mean, I can’t think of the last time someone criticized me, and I responded by saying, “THANK YOU! THANK YOU for pointing out the error of my ways.”
Yet, in the real world, correcting and critiquing others is a part of life. Your kids didn’t clean their rooms, your employee overpaid on a negotiable product, your customer is not working with you productively, etc.
There is one concept above practically all else that makes the biggest difference in your ability to persuade others to your way of thinking and attain the results you desire. It is known by several different words: diplomacy, sensitivity, savior faire, and yes, “tact.”
“Tact is the language of strength.”
- Mike Burg, My Dad
Tact is the ability to say something or make a point in such a way that not only is the other person not offended; they are totally receptive. Learning what to say and how to say it will get results for you which will seem just like magic.
Whenever you must call someone’s attention to a particular way of acting, keep tact in mind. Tact will be the key to how they receive you and what you say, and whether they will ultimately take the action that will benefit all concerned.
How do we utilize tact? First, we consider what we are going to say…before we say it. We edit our speech, before we speak. We ask ourselves questions such as, “How will he or she ‘feel’ regarding what I’m about to say, and how I’m about to say it?”
For the next 21 days, take a pretend tape recorder with you and “play back” every conversation you have. Critique yourself; “Did I think before I spoke?”, “Was I considerate of their feelings?”, “Was I gentle in my manner?”, and “Was the expression on my face consistent with my words?”
Focus on this for the next 21 days. If you feel as though you don’t know the exact right words – no problem. Begin with the right intent; the words will usually take care of themselves. Not to mention, we’ll discuss many of the right words in future articles, as we have in many of the articles that are currently archived and which you can go through at your convenience.
Let’s check back in 21 days. Meanwhile, feel free to share your success stories with us.