How to Stay Diplomatic in Law School

I often find myself asking, “what qualities make up the characteristics of a great man?”  One way of uncovering such qualities is to look to the commonalities of great men throughout history—Lincoln, Churchill, Bono.  These men, and others like them, share among other things great diplomacy.  What is diplomacy and why is it so important?  Diplomacy is defined as a skill in handling affairs without arousing hostility.  To be fair, it’s really more of an art than a skill.  So why is it important?  As a lawyer, and potentially future politician, the more people in your fan club the better.

So how do you remain diplomatic in an environment that breeds argumentation?  Simple—continue reading this blog.

“Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.”  I chose this quote by Socrates because it helps remind myself that I’m not the only player in this game we call life.  Everyone’s a player.  Everyone has feelings.  Everyone has dreams and goals.  And without exception, everyone has the potential for being hurt.  The guidepost to diplomacy is treating everyone around you with respect.  The same level of respect that you expect from others.  So remember, always be kind.  If you are, you will be loved for it.

Think before you act.  Human beings often make their worst decisions while in what I like to call the “red zone.”  We’ve all been there before.  Tension runs high.  Emotions dictate actions.  I ask you to remain calm, take a breath, and think about what you do or say before doing or saying it.  If nothing else, remember this.

Attempt to maintain a diplomatic disposition while in the midst of confrontation.  A big part of remaining diplomatic is body language.  We all have at least one friend that becomes visibly upset in the midst of any argument.  If you don’t, then you’re that guy.  Next time you’re in the midst of an argument (and I don’t necessarily mean aggressive, just a forum where opinions are being shared), actively think about remaining calm and respectful—relax your face, your eyebrows, your tone.  This is the toughest tip to implement but may garner the greatest results.

Avoid unnecessary arguments.  You don’t have to be involved in every discussion.  Although it seems counter-intuitive, the discussions you want to avoid most often are the ones you’re most passionate about.  For instance, have a strong opinion on abortion?  Avoid the topic.  These hot button issues are common areas of dispute and voicing your opinion will not change the way others around you think.

Facts, facts, facts.  Every problem can be broken down into its constituent facts.  Discussions and arguments are NOT about emotions, they are about facts.  Remain objective.  If your counterpart in the discussion is not remaining objective, ask that they do so.  No one wins they get involved in heated emotional discussions.