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On Diplomacy

It’s been some time since I wrote here, largely because I’ve been writing in other places and, as far as the blog was concerned, had simple writer’s block.

A column I read this morning, however, brought me back. In it, the author offers 10 ways to get “unstuck” and get moving again. Among them: Write a rant. Just get it out, understanding that you’ll probably have to rewrite some of it before sending it out in the world. Just do it. Write about something that is sapping your much-needed writing / creative energy.

For me, it’s been the fine art of diplomacy.

I’ve never been a my-way-or-the-highway kind of person. I’ve always felt it was a mark of emotional intelligence to be able to hold two different viewpoints in your head – the one you passionately support and the one someone else does; at least understand the other side, even if you aren’t persuaded by it.

This, of course, explains why I’m not the CEO of a large, multi-national corporation.

I still believe in that concept, but in recent months, it’s become more of an effort to entertain alternate viewpoints on certain subjects – probably because so many viewpoints have become so polarized that grasping both at the same time is nothing short of a mental high-wire act.

In recent months, what I think has become far more important. With that, I am learning to combine the diplomatic with, frankly, the bitchy.

So who is this Diplomatic Bitch? The Diplomatic Bitch is someone who maintains her boundaries and gives herself time and space to screw up, then steps back, takes it in – in her own time – and determines what she wants to happen next … not bending to others’ wishes, without interference. She uses her own brain, thank you very much.

This is difficult for those close to her to handle at times, particularly if she is a communicator, someone who (on the surface) appears to be available all the time, carries her Blackberry around the house (even on Saturdays) and answers the phone on the first ring.

Don’t be deceived. Yeah, we talk a lot, and, yeah, we – possibly – text a lot, as well. But us Diplomatic Bitches still stop and reflect.  There are times when the phone is off, the Facebook status more than 24 hours old.

It’s nothing personal.

We are, without question, evolved. We started out as giving, kind-hearted people, nose-to-the-grindstone types at work. But years of artificially diplomatic relationships – the kind that are transactional and compromising in nature – drive us to build walls, regardless of which side we are on. “I don’t want to get fired, so I’ll be nice to the boss.” …  “I don’t want to be alone, so I’ll be nice to this person I’m not really into.” … “I don’t want to rouse the ‘crazy’ in my date, so I’ll sit for one drink, smile and nod knowingly, and fake a phone call.” … “I really need this job regardless of what the company does, so I’ll pretend to be excited and impressed at the possibilities.”

It’s exhausting – no, not just exhausting, headache-inducing. Hence the need for the transformation.

The risk for Diplomatic Bitches is being so careful about her “space” that she moves past being in relationships altogether. We can’t lose sight of the upside – that being diplomatic can, of course, bring happiness and peace – both personally and professionally (and that’s not bitchy). This, of course, was our core belief before the transactional stuff (read: real life) kicked in, so the awareness is there. It’s true that it means giving up a part of yourself, resigning some ground – but once you’ve achieved Diplomatic Bitch status, you’ve likely cleared the way for healthy compromise, in this case as part of a shared vision, or possibly an interest in satisfying someone who you truly care about, and who cares about you. It may mean admitting you were wrong.

I think that’s fine, and that’s where diplomacy is an art to be cherished; the relationships that are productive and that matter exist in a context where, if the people are of healthy mind, this behavior is automatic and, if it’s a good relationship, it will continue.

So … wherever you are in the Diplomatic Bitch continuum, wherever you find yourself in that journey, the truth is we all make compromises, some of us more than others. The key is to set and enforce the right boundaries, particularly in these stressful times. Turn off the ringer and listen to ourselves think. For some, that might mean listening to God.

Or just be aware of when she requires space, so she can be mindful of yours, too.

That would be a true act of diplomacy.

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