Saturday, February 04, 2023

The Word Is Diplomatic, And I Wonder About Its Nuance


Before I get started on my Random Word, I want to take a moment and catch you up on a couple things happening here at the Dept. Firstly, I am somehow managing to exist without my dear Biscoff cookies these many weeks. Each trip to the grocery store(s) has been dismaying and sorrowful. Is there a National Shortage like there is with sriracha? I am bereft and there is no suitable substitute. Secondly, it is Cold here, too. We did get the polar freeze, but since we are not New York, Chicago, D.C., or Philadelphia, you would not know of it. Way back in 2016, when Cleveland hosted the RNC (ugh), we were briefly featured on weather maps, but that was short-lived. Once again, I'd like to acknowledge the Kindness of my Canadian Friends who selflessly shared their weather with us and again ask that they Not Do That Anymore.

On to today's word, which is Diplomatic

As a Teacher in a large (2100+), urban public high school, I had a great deal of practice with this word. Not only did I have to practice being Diplomatic with students, but more often, I had to exert an enormous amount of Diplomacy with their parents. Parental Contact was the number one mantra at our school, and to talk to the principals, you'd think it was the panacea for all concerns. Every single problem taken to a higher-up that involved a student was met with, "Did you talk to the parent?" Tardiness, cell phone usage, failing performance, violent behaviour, absenteeism, missing work, you name it, a call to the parent had to be the First Line Of Defense. Many times, the parents were baffled as to their student's behaviour, and many times my Diplomacy was put to the test, especially at conferences when I was face to face with parents, step-parents, grandparents, legal guardians, and/or probation/parole officers.

I will say that my Usual Way is always to be Straightforward and Honest. I'm naturally Direct, and that can sometimes come across as bitchy or mean. Of course, this is largely because I am a woman. If I were a man, it would be a non-issue.

It is not, however, difficult to temper Honesty and Directness with Kindness. It took me a little bit of time to discover that, and I think that was due to being a small woman in a tough school. It was important for me to establish my authority and learn how to command a room, to keep order and convey my expertise in the subject matter (along with my passion). 

But, after all, isn't being Diplomatic simply being Kind? Diplomacy is "handling people and situations so as to cause no feelings of ill will." It's the reason I used to bring in tubs of crackers, cookies, and granola bars for everyone in my class to share even though I was really making sure that the four or five kids I knew were going hungry would get something to eat. 

Perhaps Kindness is Diplomacy With Heart:

 "This haircut is terrible. I'm really unhappy with it," says your friend.

Diplomat says, "I'm sorry you're unhappy. What don't you like about it?"

Kind says, "Oh no! You're beautiful and I'll help you fix whatever you don't like."

What do you think? 


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