Diplomatic skills in the workplace: definition and examples

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published 11 November 2022

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

Diplomatic skills are valuable soft skills that can help you to navigate your work life and succeed in your career. In the workplace, you may face challenges, work with colleagues with differing personalities and encounter conflicts that require handling with sensitivity and diplomacy. Developing your skills in diplomatic communication and problem-solving may help you to stand out from colleagues and emerge as a reliable colleague and leader in your team. In this article, we discuss examples of diplomatic behaviour, and how to develop diplomatic habits and skills in the workplace.

What are diplomatic skills?

Diplomatic skills are a range of habits, behaviours and abilities to help you manage relationships and build strong ties with colleagues in the workplace. Being diplomatic in the workplace requires good listening and communication skills, problem-solving, conflict resolution, leadership and emotional intelligence. All these skills can help you develop meaningful relationships, encourage collaboration, build a more effective, productive team and bring the best out of your colleagues. Being a skilled diplomat in the workplace can also help you to stand out to your superiors and display your value to the organisation. This can be useful for your career progression.

Related: Problem-solving skills: definitions and examples

Examples of diplomatics skills

If you work to develop the soft skills outlined below, you can increase your diplomatic influence in the workplace, and help to create and sustain a positive, productive working culture:

Listening

A critical element of diplomatic behaviour is the ability to listen effectively to your colleagues. Without strong listening skills, you may struggle to understand conflicts, disagreements and tensions in the workplace and find solutions to these challenges. Practising active listening can help you to be more attentive, retain more information and better understand the perspective of your colleagues.

Problem-solving

A significant element of diplomacy is problem-solving, so being an effective diplomat in the workplace relies heavily on this valuable soft skill. Problem-solving includes the ability to see a situation from all perspectives and angles and develop creative solutions that satisfy all parties. To be an effective problem solver, the ability to think laterally and creatively is essential, together with the ability to put plans into action.

Teamwork

Teamwork is a fundamental element of diplomatic behaviour and abilities. If you're comfortable in a team environment and enjoy spending time in the company of your colleagues, you may find your skills in diplomacy develop as you become more comfortable listening to other perspectives and finding ways to work together. The diplomat plays an extremely valuable role in the team dynamic, and diplomats often emerge as natural leaders.

Related: How to maximise teamwork effectiveness (tips and skills)

Communication

How you communicate with your colleagues is one of the critical factors in determining whether you can successfully be a diplomatic presence in your team. Strong communication skills can give you the ability to use diplomatic language in both spoken and written contexts. This can enhance team unity, promote inclusion and find ways to work together more effectively.

Empathy

Empathy is the ability to understand things from another person's perspective. This is a crucial element of developing diplomatic abilities and behaviours. If you're able to exercise compassion and see difficult situations and challenges from the perspective of the person facing them, then you're more likely to be able to handle conflicts, challenges and obstacles in the workplace with diplomacy.

Related: How to demonstrate leadership with tips and examples

Conflict resolution

Conflict resolution is an important skill to work on if you're interested in developing your skills and abilities in diplomacy. When working in a team environment, it's common for conflicts and disagreements to arise. If you want colleagues to see you as a diplomatic presence and influence in your team, you may want to take the lead in attempting to resolve such situations. Conflict resolution requires a combination of other diplomatic behaviours, and it's crucial to remain calm and sensitive at all times.

Analytical skills

Developing your analytical thinking can help you to become more diplomatic in your approach to team working. Analytical skills are the ability to see a problem from all angles, understand and interpret information, consider the advantages and disadvantages of certain courses of action and make the best decision for all parties. As a diplomatic influence in your team, it's essential to have skills in analysing and interpreting the information available to you, so you can recommend the most effective solutions to challenges and issues that arise.

How to improve your diplomatic skills

There are numerous steps you can take to improve your skills and abilities in diplomacy, that may help you to resolve workplace conflicts and develop a leadership role within your team. Take a look at some of the steps you can take below:

1. Develop your communication skills

Working on your listening and communication skills is a critical step toward improving your abilities to act as a leader, mediator or conflict resolver. There are various techniques you can employ to become a more attentive listener and more effective at communicating your ideas, either in person or in writing. Practising active listening and paying attention to your body language are just two ways you can increase the quality of your communication.

2. Work on your emotional intelligence

Putting yourself in situations that can test and improve your emotional intelligence can help you develop stronger skills in diplomacy. This could mean taking on additional responsibility at work, acting as a mentor for junior colleagues or simply spending more time with your colleagues to develop positive and meaningful relationships. All these can help develop your emotional intelligence and improve your diplomatic behaviours and habits.

Related: Tips to improve your emotional intelligence in the workplace

3. Ask for feedback

Being open to receiving feedback from colleagues and your superiors is one of the most effective ways to improve both your hard and soft skills in the workplace. If you have a regular appraisal with your manager, pay attention to areas for improvement in your style of working or your relationships with colleagues, and plan to work on your behaviours and soft skills. Many appraisals provide 360-degree feedback, meaning you receive feedback from colleagues at all levels in your workplace, not just your superiors. This can be advantageous for developing your soft skills, such as diplomacy.

Diplomacy skills in the workplace

Diplomacy and problem-solving are valuable traits and characteristics for most workplaces, so if you're strong in these areas, put yourself in situations where you can use them to help create a more effective workplace. Here are a few tips and best practices:

  • Always be ready to listen to all perspectives, and act as a mediator in meetings, encouraging less-prominent voices to speak out.

  • Strive to understand situations from the perspective of all your colleagues, whether junior or senior, and be intentional and purposeful with your words.

  • Be ready to resolve conflicts and disagreements, as this is an extremely valuable skill in maintaining a healthy workplace culture.

How to highlight your diplomacy skills

When applying for jobs, there are several ways you can display and demonstrate your diplomacy skills. Take a look below at some examples of how to communicate your skills in diplomacy to employers and recruiters:

1. CV

A CV usually includes a section on skills, allowing you to mention a few skills that make you suitable for a particular role. You may choose to mention diplomatic abilities in the skills section, with an example of scenarios in your career when you've worked diplomatically. You could also mention diplomacy in your personal statement. This statement is typically no longer than a few sentences, summarising your personality, style of work and skill set. If you consider diplomacy to be one of your strengths or crucial to the role you're applying for, you may decide to mention it here.

Related: Adjectives to use on your CV for maximum impact

2. Cover letter

A cover letter for a job application is an opportunity for you to expand on your soft skills and experience. If the role you're applying for calls for strengths and experience in team working, collaboration, problem-solving or leadership, then you might consider mentioning your skills in diplomacy. You may also decide to mention how you plan to continue developing your diplomatic habits and behaviours in the future if you're successful in your job application.

3. Interview

Interviewers may routinely ask you to describe your strengths or to demonstrate a situation where you've solved a problem or resolved a conflict in the workplace. This could be a suitable time to emphasise your skills in diplomacy, so try to think of any situations where you've put diplomatic behaviours and skills into practice. As with any element of a job interview, be honest and don't exaggerate your abilities or influence. Instead, try to stay true to the facts of your previous experience.

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