Tact… The Secret Sauce in Business Relationships


Tact is a sense of what is fitting and considerate in dealing with others, skill or judgement in handling difficult or delicate situations.  It is the art of discretion and diplomacy.

Dealing with People

Business leaders will inevitably be forced to deal with difficult or delicate issues.  These issues will almost always concern and be centered around other people.  These people may be team members, vendors or customers.  Your ability to exercise tact is critical to maintaining productive relationships.

As I have mentioned before, I am a Type A, bull in a china shop kind of person.  The use of tact is, sometimes very challenging for me.  It has been a muscle that I have had to exercise and I am still pretty weak in this area of my life… most of the time.

So this post is for me… If you see something here for you… grab it and apply it to your life as needed.

As a business leader, and as your organization and your reach in the marketplace grows, you will be forced to deal with many different types of people.  There will be plenty of times when tactful people skills will be necessary.

Tact is the ability to tell someone to go to hell in such a way that they look forward to the trip.  –  Winston Churchill

The fact is, that your “show must go on”.  That is, you have got to transact commerce.  That is what keeps your lights on and makes payroll every month.  To do this you have to maintain relationships.  There will be disagreements in every relationship.  The key to your success in maintaining these relationships is how you confront “Professional Disagreement”.

Practical Tact Tips

Many of the topics I write on tend to flow pretty easily for me.  I decide the topic and then I start to write.  This one, however took a little more studying for me.  I found a great YouTube video that provided some great tools.  Specifically, 5 questions to ask yourself when dealing with other people:

  1. How can I relay info in a polite and respectful way?
  2. How would I feel to be on the receiving end?
  3. Do I act in a professional manner?
  4. Is there a more tactful way to handle this situation?
  5. Are my words free from condemnation, sarcasm, blame or anger?

Wow, what a great list.  If there was a way to inscribe these questions on the inside of my eyelids, my life would probably be a lot easier.  So, I will write them on a note card and tape them to the corner of my screen.

Facebook?  an Unlikely Tact Tutor

There are so many opportunities to express opinions on Facebook.  Before I began to use it for business I really didn’t think much about posting with tact.  If I saw something I liked or had a reaction to something that was happening in my world… BAM… I would let it all hang out.

However, since I have been using Facebook to promote my business and my blog, I have had to do some soul searching.  I still post pics of wonderful meals, but I have tempered my approach to some of the more controversial topics.  I guess FB has helped me with my “tact” issues.

Have you had a need to exercise tact lately?  Tell us about it.  Please share some tidbits that could help your fellow leaders and business owners.