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  • Tactful Communication – How and when to use it to help your relationship

    Being assertive is a trait that few people have. Knowing how to tactfully talk about something (difficult or not), and share your needs, is even rarer. But the good news is that there are ways to learn such skill.

    First of all, people have to recognize how miscommunication can affect them and their relationship (with loved ones, work/school/professionals, or family relationships).

    If you don’t know how to tactfully communicate, you can offend or disrespect people when you are trying to relay a message. Their negative reactions to you is, in your point of view, because they are being “too sensitive.”

    In fact, what could be happening here is that you may have unknowingly been insensitive yourself to others’ needs, may have disrespected, or offended someone.

    Knowing how to communicate effectively without disrespecting, offending, or alienating others is an art that can be learned.

    Tactful communication is when you learn to be direct, clear, firm, and persuasive, while also being diplomatic, sensitive to others, and respectful of feelings and opinions of others.


    Tactful Communication Blocks

    Let’s exam some of the reasons why you communicate and respond to people do way you do, and why you are not doing it tactfully.

      1. You don’t possess the knowledge/skills/tools to communicating tactfully
      2. You know there are some skills, but you don’t know how to implement them in your life
      3. You may feel inferior to the people you are trying to communicate with.

    People from minority groups may have more issues in this area. Life experiences for the minority people may have helped them to develop defensiveness when communicating, is hypersensitive to how people talk or respond to them, or feels they are being personally attacked.


    How to Communicate Tactfully

    How you say is as important as What you say. The chosen words to communicate your message plays an important part, but how you deliver the message makes all the difference.

    There are many tools and skills needed to develop to communicate tactfully. How you deliver your message now is connected to many factors. Below are some to consider.

      1. Your personality – Consider your personality type and communication style you are used to. People may fall under these categories:
        1. Directly – “I don’t measure my words”, “I speak the truth”, etc.
        2. Indirectly – Beats around the bush without giving clear message of what wants to communicate.
        3. Avoiding – There’s no communication. It’s too painful to think of a possibility of a rejection.
      2. Facial expression – Have you looked at your own face when trying to talk to someone? You face may have given many subtle messages that you may not been aware.
      3. Tones – Have you heard yourself talking to someone? Have you notice that people (more and more) have started ending sentences with interrogation mark, instead of a period or exclamation point? It is like they are saying something, but they are not really sure, and would love to get your affirmation on it. Being ambiguous in your tone is damaging to good communication.
      4. Goal/objective – Does your message have a goal? What is that you want from the other person when I conclude your thoughts? Is the person getting a clear idea of what your message is?

    Not only you may need to learn new skills to How to communicate better, it might be important to learn When is a good time to communicate with the target audience.


    When Communicate Tactfully

    Since tactful communication is not a natural way of communicating, it is unlikely that you will employ all techniques every single time you open your mouth. That’s why is more important to know how to identify times that you really need to practice communicating tactfully.

    It is not just enough to know what you are going to say, to know what is the message you are going to give, or how you will deliver your message. It is also important to observe when is a good time to communicate with that target audience.

    At first, let’s learn when is NOT a good time to communicate tactfully:

      1. When you don’t have a clear message set in your mind
      2. When there are others around – not good to put people down or embarrass them
      3. When you are having fun and relaxed – it’s time to go with the flow mindfully

    Having said that, now let’s consider when is a good time to deliver your message tactfully:

      1. When you have a clear idea of what the message is
      2. When you know how to communicate what you want/need from the person you are speaking to
      3. When you are not over-emotionally charged
      4. When the other person has time to give you
      5. When the other person is not charged emotionally charged
      6. Anytime you expect results from your conversation

    Very few people get taught how to communicate tactfully. Acquiring this skill will help in many areas of your life, especially in your relationships and professionally.

    To learn more how to acquire the skills and put them in practice, contact

    Dr. Rosana Marzullo-Dove

    (813) 613-8587