Have you ever found yourself in a situation where someone was upset by something you said? Your defense may have been, “Well it’s true.” Even if it was, you probably could have delivered the same message in a gentler way. This would have preserved the other person’s feelings and kept you from looking like an inconsiderate jerk.
People often think that the absence of tact is the only way, to tell the truth. Not so. By using your emotional intelligence, you can get your point across in a way that offers the other person respect by allowing them to save face. Tact lends discretion, self-awareness, thoughtfulness, compassion, subtlety, honesty, courtesy, and is just plain good use of manners!
By communicating tactfully, you will strengthen your reputation and credibility People who use tact show character, maturity, professionalism, and integrity, especially when delivering bad news or critical feedback.
Below is one of my favorite demonstrations of tact. Ask yourself, which Seer are you?
Essence of Tact
by: Brian Cavanaugh, T.O.R., The Sower’s Seeds
A Sultan called in one of his Seers and asked how long he would live. “Sire,” said the Seer, “you would live to see all your sons dead.” The Sultan flew into a rage and handed the prophet over to his guards for execution. He then called for a second Seer, and asked him the same question. “Sire,” said the prophet, “I see you blessed with long life, so long that you will outlive all your family.” The Sultan was delighted and rewarded this Seer with gold and silver jewelry. Both prophets knew the truth, but one had tact, the other did not.
Moral of the story: Choose your words wisely, use your tone kindly, smile with your eyes, and like your mother used to say, if you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything.