What is tact anyways? Tact is simply diplomacy, discretion and judgment. Other meanings are offered but I chose these three because these are the most apt. The absence of tact is evidently the opposite of diplomacy, discretion and judgment.
People go through different situations in life. Their actions, decisions and judgment calls could reflect their present day realities. These are realities we are not aware of, most especially if we are merely looking from the outside. We look from the outside if we do not belong to a person’s circle of friends and family. However, that does not prevent us from exercising tact. Yes, tact - a powerful four-letter word that can work wonders.
For some people, they have developed the habit of giving unsolicited advice. Perhaps it gives them a semblance of authority when they can input a line or two about a given situation. Perhaps they are well-intentioned dragons (meaning the intention is good but given at the most inappropriate time or worse, when not needed at all). Whatever the intention is, here’s the unspoken rule: When your opinion is not sought, zip your mouth. That way, you will never get into trouble.
Never mind if the “semblance” of authority you always crave is not executed; never mind if your “care” is not actualized. You can always find other avenues to express authority and care. There are actually many ways, without offending the sensibilities of other people.
According to my EQ (Emotional Quotient) in the workplace seminar-training, we do not know “where a person is coming from". He or she may come from a painful experience of loss, tragedy, or illness. We will never know this part of a person’s life until someone close to this person tells us. So it is best to practice tact at all times. It is a winner.
Just look at the rewards of a tactful person: He or she is popular with everyone. He or she is mostly sought after. People like to be with her.
And look at the tactless person: People shy away from her. People do not confide in her because chances are, she knows better. She upstages anyone.
Have you come in contact with the tactless species? They always have a better story to tell, or more painful tale to share. Ouch! Your story is minimized, if not diminished because she has a better story: whether sad or fun. Hers is the better idea, thought or input. Talk about empathy.
But we should not pass judgment. After all, we are all a work in progress. We can relearn positive traits and discard the ugly ones. Of course, we need self-reflection and self-analysis to realize our weaknesses, acknowledge them and work on them. And if we are powerless to change, we can always seek God’s grace and power to help us change. We are only God’s creation after all; surely God can help reshape us if only we are willing to let Him.
For those who are battling with tactlessness, it is best to request a close friend or two to help remind you to work on your area of weakness. You can be accountable to them. They can help remind you whenever you have crossed the line or about to cross the line. They are like the “looking glass” to you. It is always better when someone is there to remind us so we stay focused on our goal to eliminate tactlessness.
Tactless people are not spoken of gently. If only they knew how people evaluate their behavior, they will probably cringe. So it is high time to work on the tactlessness and become a better person.
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Food for thought:
“Don't flatter yourself that friendship authorizes you to say disagreeable things to your intimates. The nearer you come into relation with a person, the more necessary do tact and courtesy become.” – Oliver Wendell Holmes