What is Tact and Why Does it Matter?
The Benefits of Being a Tactful Leader
No Tact Makes Your Team Unhappy
Honest and Tactful Leader Vs Rude and Uncaring Leader
A big part of being tactful is about keeping pointless negativity out of the conversation. Being honest when giving feedback should always go hand in hand with being kind, and so choosing your words carefully is important. In fact, the way feedback is given is almost more important than the feedback itself.
There are a few easy things that can be done to make sure the situation stays neutral, starting with keeping the number of negative words to a minimum. For example, saying “It seems the timeline for this project wasn’t something that worked with your current workload. Let’s talk about how we can fix this for next time” instead of “This project was late and that’s not acceptable”. The key point is the same, but the first option makes sure no one feels hurt.
Not Just About Office Life
Tact also comes down to understanding that people’s work-life doesn’t exist in a bubble. Much of what goes on in someone’s personal life will affect their office life as well. Being empathetic towards them and remembering that it’s not always easy to leave your personal life at the office door will do wonders to help maintain tact during conversations. Employees will be more likely to be open to feedback if they feel like their boss understands they’re more than a simple cog in a machine.
Is Tact as a Key Leadership Skill Enough?
So, How Can You be More Tactful? 4 Helpful Tips
- Listen more than you talk. Aim to speak less than 50% of the time during the conversation, and truly listen. Try not to think of what you’re going to say next and focus on what the person in front of you is communicating.
- Body language is key. Around 70%-93% of all communication is non-verbal, and developing tact requires lots of that. Maintain eye contact, and relax your body as you speak. Keep a gentle facial expression to encourage open communication. You want this to be a two-way street – not just you monologuing.
- Keep your cool. Letting your emotions overtake you is a big no-no. It’s very hard to communicate tactfully when your brain is busy being upset or frustrated. Take deep breaths and make sure you’re calm before you start talking. You want to make sure you think about what you want to say next in your head before you say it out loud. If you wouldn’t like someone speaking to you aggressively, why would anyone else?
- Pick your timing. Your employee just found out someone broke into their car during their lunch break. That’s probably not the best time to tell them they messed up on that report you’d asked them for. Part of being tactful is thinking about the other person’s emotions and changing your approach based on that. Wait for a more neutral moment to communicate what you need to say.
Professional Leadership Institute (PLI) is an educational website providing professionals from all types of businesses with practical education in entrepreneurial leadership. To keep evolving your leadership toolkit, additional PLI resources below will be useful: