“Tact is the knack of making a point without making an enemy” – Isaac Newton.
Everyone has an opinion, and we do as well. Of course, we, like all others, feel strongly about this opinion. After all, we wouldn’t hold it if we didn’t. The problem comes when we share our opinion with others.
We often put our opinions out there in a very forceful way. We might show disdain for other opinions or openly state what we think and feel. Some behaviors, like rolling our eyes or laughing, when there is an idea we disagree with, can be especially hostile.
We might be right, but the way in which we show our thoughts can easily discourage people or drive them away. You wouldn’t listen to someone who thinks you’re dumb, would you?
When we do this, we lose any chance of changing the person’s mind and might set them on the defensive, where they will cling even more to their old, wrong ideas.
So, what to do instead?
It’s much more effective to be subtle. We can be very tactful and polite when expressing our opinion, and that will bring more people to our side of the argument. We should be careful with what we say and use more neutral language.
Taking this stance will also help you understand the other person. When we dismiss them outright, we can never learn anything new. Here, you get to listen and see where they are coming from, though you don’t really have to agree.
Understanding the other person also gives us more insight into how to convince them. Without this knowledge, we might simply try to push them to take our position and push them away instead.
Politeness goes a long way. Even if we can’t get the person to change their mind, we can get them to view us more favorably, not to mention any onlookers. After all, you can catch more flies with honey than with vinegar.
When we are very blunt and rude with our opinions, it doesn’t matter how right we are. Others won’t see it in a good way.
Being polite, tactful, and cautious, on the other hand, gives us an advantage.