- Author: Mark Bolda
A few weekends ago I saw a short article in the WSJ magazine that sometimes comes with the newspaper on Saturdays. The article asked five luminaries to weigh in on a single topic. The topic this month was diplomacy and included heavy hitters in this arena like Nicholas Burns, Ambassador to China and Jon Meachum, a Pulitzer price winning biographer.
The answer that struck me the most is the one here by Dolly Alderton, the author of Everything I Know About Love , which is a novel now adapted to a TV show.
"Diplomacy is hugely underrated. My [millenial] generation is so rightly fixated on this idea of authenticity, but I don't that should come at the expense of other people's feelings, politeness, appropriateness, professionalism. I'm also very aware that I'm conditioned as a woman to be as accommodating as possible to everyone around me and make others comfortable at the expense of my own desires or identity. But there has to be a balance. There's a world in which you can speak your truth and be an outspoken ally to the right groups while also exercising diplomacy. There are moments where you have to exercise an uncensored view with fury and urgency, but I don't think that is required of a person at every point of their day."
I agree with Dolly, but with a caveat. Someone who is consistently diplomatic also sets up expectations to be that way all the time, so when you suddenly switch into fury and urgency this makes people real uncomfortable. I think a lot of people see me as diplomatic (I hope) because I agree with Dolly that we should be polite, courteous and respectful of other people's feelings and strive to be that way in my work and personal life, especially in a vocation which necessarily deals with lots and lots of different people. But veering from that persona and laying into someone with fury and urgency to speak your truth because they finally pressed their falsehood over the acceptable limit can scare them because it is not within your expected persona; I've done it and I do know this.
What are your thoughts?