Tact is an important communication skill involving discretion and discernment. Are you one who is said by others to possess this skill? If so, you are at a distinct advantage in both your professional and personal lives.
American historian J.G. Randall stated, “Tact is a number of qualities working together: insight into human nature, sympathy, self-control, a knack of inducing self-control in others, avoidance of human blundering, readiness to give the immediate situation an understanding mind and a second thought. Tact is not only kindness, but kindness skillfully extended.”
While tact is not an easily acquired skill, it is certainly worth the effort to study and observe others and then to modify one’s own behavior in incorporating and developing this valuable ability.
Here are five reasons why tact is an important quality for an individual to possess:
1. You can make a positive impression on others. Business executives look favorably upon a tactful person, especially when dealing with others outside the company. Impressions are often formed quickly, and a tactful, poised, confident individual is very likely to be viewed with greater favor than one reflecting the opposite.
2. You will be seen as one who thinks before speaking. This is not only a good management trait, but reflects a certain strength of character. We’ve all known individuals who seem to speak without thinking, and quite often come to regret it. Tactful people rarely have to live with this sort of regret.
3. Your negotiating skills can be greatly enhanced. Having the tact and patience to seek and then find a win/win solution, instead of always aiming for unconditional surrender, will far more often yield a successful, mutually beneficial outcome. And negotiation is always about outcomes.
4. By giving respect, you will get respect in return. Being sincere and considerate of others’ opinions and feelings can bring about a mutual respect. Respect is a quality we all admire and desire; who among us doesn’t want to be respected by our peers?
5. You will get to the heart of the matter more effectively. What we say is important, but how we say it is also vital. If the content of a matter can be discussed with tact and respect, especially if that content is uncomfortable or contentious, then the likelihood of having a more productive discussion is significantly improved. This is not to say that candor and honesty should be relegated or even disregarded; it is to say that keeping the listener engaged in the discussion in a tactful manner may make more sense than losing the listener at the beginning with a less tactful approach.
Tact is important in life. Some would argue that tact is more important than ability. Both are important, obviously, but a person who develops and uses tact will have a clear advantage.