If you want to be tactful, try using your imagination as far as other people are concerned. Observe and study people so that it is possible to gauge how they are feeling and thinking. This increases your sensitivity to people, so that you treat them with consideration. Once you harness your imagination to your observation and study of people, human nature becomes an absorbing subject.
Every person is different and
requires an individual approach. People change from day to day depending on the
weather and the atmospheric pressure,
their state of health, their
moods and feelings, the situation and circumstances of the moment.
A tactless person is apt to say hurtful and inappropriate things,
because he is insensitive to others, and
he is insensitive because he is unimaginative. When you are in doubt,
the best thing to do is to ask yourself: How would I like to be treated in this
situation, or these circumstances?
Nobody wants to be hurt, embarrassed,
ridiculed, humiliated, placed at a disadvantage or in a false position, made to
feel unimportant, inferior and
inadequate, Imagination disciplined by observation and study of people
will enable you to avoid these pitfalls.
TACT CONSISTS OF:
1. Encouraging people to have a good opinion of themselves by
showing them through your attitude that you regard them as very interesting,
and worth knowing.
2. Turning a blind eye to mistakes
and clumsiness. If it is blatant that it cannot be ignored, pass it over as
quickly and as lightly as possible, by playing it down
and drawing people’s attention away from it.
3. Being reliable with regard to
anything confidential imparted to you, including things said on impulse or in a
moment of irritation.
4. Avoiding saying or doing anything
to hurt, embarrass, and make life awkward for people.
Tact sometimes requires us to be
silent and let other people do the talking. Suppose you are out of sympathy
with somebody or in total disagreement. If you are tactless, you are likely to
want to prove how right you are, and how wrong
the other person is. But how much wiser to hold your tongue and agree to differ!
It can be tactful to pass the initiative to the other person in the
sense of getting him to lead the conversation. Many of us have experienced the
awkwardness of meeting somebody we knew
a long time ago but cannot now quite place in our mind. It helps to try to get
the other person talking, like saying:
“We haven’t met for such a long time.
How has life been using you?” This provides a starting point and you pick up
the clues as you go along.
People often have cause to be
grateful to the tactful friend who holds them in conversation on some day – to
– day subject when a tactless person would insist on discussing something they
most desire to avoid, like the illness of a loved one or the details of a
It is possible similarly
to assist people who are in highly nervous
state, and therefore, emotionally upset and specially vulnerable, by letting
them unburden themselves and then forgetting what was said, especially when it
involves other people.
If you are tactlessly insensitive to
other people’s feelings and wishes, it may never dawn on you that you have hurt
someone by interrupting them in the middle of what they were saying because you
had something you wanted to add.
Tactful people are always outwards –
looking, concerned about other people,
and interested. They recognize the best nature in everybody. But it is easier
to be tactful when you take into account
that like, the rest, you also have awkward moods and feelings.
For example, we are all at times
disappointed and it is easy to get cross when somebody lets us down. If you are
tactless, you may refuse to accept any excuses and explanations, but if you are tactful, you spare your
friend’s feelings by making light of it.
There are times when people do
not want us. They would prefer to
confine a gathering to the family,
although it would hurt them if we did not write or phone our congratulations or condolences. It is
tactful to discover whether sick people are well enough to cope with visitors
, to stay too long or talk to much,
especially when there are other visitors.
It is tactful to make a note of
birthdays and anniversaries, and to acknowledge them. A grin or a gesture at
the wrong moment can be tactless or if you laugh disparagingly or show boredom
and hostility that can appear tactless too.
If you want to be tactful, see that
the people you meet have no cause to regret meeting you. You will not go far wrong if you always try to make them
feel better and happier and more sure of themselves.