The Art of Diplomacy

We tend to associate diplomacy with embassies, international relations and high politcs. But it really refers to a set of skills that matter in many
areas of daily life, especially at the office and on the landing, outside the slammed doors
of loved ones’ bedrooms. Diplomacy is the art of advancing an idea or cause without
unnecessarily inflaming passions or unleashing a catastrophe. It involves an understanding
of the many facets of human nature that can undermine agreement and stoke conflict, and
a commitment to unpicking these with foresight and grace. The diplomat remembers, first and
foremost, that some of the vehemence with which we can insist on having our way draws
energy from an overall sense of not being respected or heard within a relationship.
We will fight with particular tenacity and apparent meanness over a so-called small point
when we have a sense that the other person has failed to honour our wider need for appreciation
and esteem. Behind our fierce way of arguing may lie a frustrated plea for affection. Diplomats
know the intensity with which humans crave respect and so though they may not always
be able to agree with us, they take the trouble to show that they have bothered to see how
things look through our eyes. They recognise that it is almost as important to people to
feel heard, as to win their case. We’ll put up with a lot once someone has demonstrated
that they at least know how we feel. Diplomats therefore put extraordinary effort into securing
the health of the overall relationship so that smaller points can be conceded along
the way without attracting feelings of untenable humiliation. They know how much beneath pitched
fights over money or entitlements, schedules or procedures, a demand for esteem can stir.
They are careful to trade generously in emotional currency, so as not always to have to pay
excessively in other, more practical denominations. Frequently, what is at stake within a negotiation
with someone is a request that they change in some way: that they learn to be more punctual,
or take more trouble on a task, that they be less defensive or more open-minded. The
diplomat knows how futile it is to state these wishes too directly. They know the vast difference
between having a correct diagnosis of how someone needs to grow and a relevant way to
help them do so. They know too that what holds people back from evolution is fear – and
therefore grasp that what we may most need to offer those whom we want to acknowledge
difficult things is, above anything else, love and reassurance. It helps greatly to
know that those recommending change are not speaking from a position of impregnable perfection
but are themselves wrestling with comparable demons in other areas. For a diagnosis not
to sound like mere criticism, it helps for it to be delivered by someone with no compunctions
to owning up to their own shortcomings. There can be few more successful pedagogic moves
than to confess genially from the outset, ‘And I am, of course, entirely mad as well…’’
In negotiations, the diplomat is not addicted to indiscriminate or heroic truth telling.
They appreciate the legitimate place that minor lies can occupy in the service of greater
truths. They know that if certain local facts are emphasised, then the most important principles
in a relationship may be forever undermined. So they will enthusiastically say that the
financial report or the homemade cake were really very pleasing and will do so not to
deceive but to affirm the truth of their overall attachment, which might be be lost were a
completely accurate account of their feelings to be laid out. Diplomats know that a small
lie may have to be the guardian of a big truth. They appreciate their own resistance to the
unvarnished facts – and privately hope that others may on occasion, over certain matters,
also take the trouble to lie to them, and that they will never know. Another trait of
the diplomat is to be serene in the face of obviously bad behaviour: a sudden loss of
temper, a wild accusation, a very mean remark. They don’t take it personally – even when
they may be the target of rage. They reach instinctively for reasonable explanations
and have clearly in their minds the better moments of a currently frantic but essentially
loveable person. They know themselves well enough to understand that abandonments of
perspective are both hugely normal and usually indicative of nothing much beyond exhaustion
or passing despair. They do not aggravate a febrile situation through self-righteousness,
which is a symptom of not knowing oneself too well – and of having a very selective
memory. The person who bangs a fist on the table or announces extravagant opinions may
simply be rather worried, frightened or just very enthusiastic: conditions that should
rightly invite sympathy rather than disgust. At the same time, the diplomat understands
that there are moments to sidestep direct engagement. They do not try to teach a lesson
whenever it might first or most apply: they wait till it has the best chance of being
heard. At points, they disarm difficult people by reacting in unexpected ways. In the face
of a tirade, instead of going on the defensive, the diplomatic person might suggest some lunch.
When a harshly unfair criticism is launched at them, they might nod in partial agreement
and declare that they’ve often said such things to themselves. They give a lot of ground
away and avoid getting cornered in arguments that distract from the deeper issues. They
remember the presence of a better version of what might be a somewhat unfortunate individual
currently on display. The diplomat’s tone of reasonableness is built, fundamentally,
on a base of deep pessimism. They know what the human animal is, they understand how many
problems are going to beset even a very good marriage, business, friendship or society.
Their good humoured way of greeting problems is a symptom of having swallowed a healthy
measure of sadness from the outset. They have given up on the ideal, not out of weakness
but out of a mature readiness to see compromise as a necessary requirement for getting by
in a radically imperfect world. The diplomat may be polite, but they are not for that matter
averse to delivering bits of bad news with uncommon frankness. Too often, we seek to
preserve our image in the eyes of others by tiptoeing around the harsh decisions – and
thereby make things far worse than they need to be. We should say that we’re leaving
them, that they’re fired, that their pet project isn’t going ahead, but we mutter
instead that we’re a little preoccupied at the moment, that we’re delighted by their
performance and that the project is being actively discussed by the senior team. We
mistake leaving some room for hope with kindness. But true niceness does not mean seeming nice,
it means helping the people we are going to disappoint to adjust as best they can to reality.
By administering a sharp, clean blow, the diplomatic person kills off the torture of
hope, accepting the frustration that’s likely to come their way: the diplomat is kind enough
to let themselves be the target of hate. The diplomat succeeds because they are a realist;
they know we are inherently flawed, unreasonable, anxious, comedically absurd creatures who
scatter blame unfairly, misdiagnose their pains and react appallingly to criticism – especially
when it is accurate – and yet they are hopeful too of the possibilities of progress when
our disturbances have been properly factored in and cushioned with adequate reassurance,
accurate interpretation and respect. Diplomacy seeks to teach us how many good things can
still be accomplished when we make some necessary accommodations with the crooked, sometimes
touching and hugely unreliable material of human nature. If you’re interested in coming to San Francisco to meet us at the end of March please click on the link on your screen now to find out more. We hope to see you there.


  • The School of Life

    Have you found deplomacy important in your everyday life? Join us at the end of the month to talk about this and many more important topics:

  • Jenna G.

    great way to promote deceit.

  • Manuela Gascon

    please, could you translate to spanish?? this one is kind of difficult, hi from Argentina!

  • Voldra Thur Vol Rozol

    Being a Diplomat myself, this video has explained the workings of my mind!

  • shirley leah

    Gawd, how to be a saint!

  • Nina De Vos

    visit contractor narrow fresh measure swim mix relax computer.

  • The Rover

    I needed this video so badly right now, you have no idea! I'm glad YouTube recommended it when I need it most right now!

  • Minh Phuong Bui

    Libras <3

  • Minh Phuong Bui

    people use the term "badass", "savage" to describe an ideal persona. the truth is being diplomatic: balanced, polite and empathetic is the true art that reaches above those with attitudes. being too assertive is troublesome, we should reach for being kind and gentle instead, in that way there will be true love and exists more good people. i'm also glad that the people on this comment section have that same opinion of mine <3 🙂

  • Prismolly

    These feel or sound a little more confusing than they used to, sometimes I lose track of what's being said even if the language is eloquent. I wish I understood it better all the way through. ;_;

  • exec9292

    "shut the fuck up…" thats all you need to know about diplomacy

  • Mubashir Bashir

    I think this is not for me. I find this to be hypocrisy. To tell things as it is in a very empathetic tone. Telling yourselves that I am not deceiving anyone with a small lie is a lier to him/herself and that is not acceptable to me. Imagine if Socrates was a diplomat he wouldn't be what he is today the father of western philosophy.

  • Carlos Duran

    Where were you when I was a teenager more than 30 years ago?, I could have preserved so many great relationships that I lost throughout my life due to lacking a more diplomatic approach to resolve differences and/or disputes, thank you.

  • Urbie LateNight Gaming Adventure

    I watch this video three times. It is a lot of info in 8 minutes video. I think that there are so much in diplomacy that no way anyone can explain it in a year. Just like how to make good friends? You tell me. But this video give out a direction and feel where to start and where our problem lies. Diplomacy is grt skill to have.

  • Alannah

    I value honesty above all else. Small lies are more troublesome to me than cruel honesty.

  • Bell Scott

    Nah. Skip the lie part work off the truth. Then again your truth may differ from theirs. That's when compromise along with empathy and compassion enter the party. Build better diplomats and leaders. We were off the chain.

  • EchoGay Bald Fith

    Really great video, this is my favorite of this channel I've seen so far

  • Philosopher Ad Absurdum

    I wrote a response to this on my blog. Check it out! (btw massive fan)

  • Devarsh M.A. Ganatra

    Please use easier language to explain your point. It's difficult to grasp for people who don't study psychology.


    One of the best 10 minutes I have ever spent in my life. And I have seen a lot

  • Going Home Minor League Ball

    Bullshit.. an I am not diplomatic at all

  • Alicia Valentin

    Yes to all. But dancing around a poor performer will not make them dance.

  • Fyleth

    This is pure gold

  • Rose

    is this possible with narcissists?

  • Degjoy

    This is a very British approach. I appreciate the German way, which although is not so diplomatic, is so much clearer and more sincere/honest.

  • Drila

    Apereantly I am a diplomat.

  • The Dishonored Coward

    You could not even begin to imagine how much I appreciate that this video exists.

  • Cari

    I want a diplomat personality.

  • Dallan Isom


  • Bear Knuckles

    7:58 this part kinda creeps me out. Like brainwashing or something

  • Rainbow Black Dragon

    Thank you?❤️?????????????

  • Viviene B

    Very thought provoking and well narrated!

  • Culture Crab

    I liked the animations, very comforting

  • Lana Fahd

    Sooo that’s what dad does in work

  • Петър Петров

    I observe a strange fenomenon. Seems that there are more and more people, who claim that they do not care for anyones opinion. Which is tottaly unrespectfull and is a lie. Basically they lie to worse thier relationships. Most probably to defend their ego. Here is one example:
    – What do you think for my new hairstyle
    – I do not like it. It was better before.
    – Hm, I do not care for you opinion
    So why then she asked? Totall lie.
    The young women are especially affected by such propaganda. Which I observe in Facebook, probably other social media. Also in rap music. On some reality shows it is very well prominent. Basically it is a principle of the hypermodern culture. Which sucks as a whole. But this pillar is super dumb and needless. What purpose does it even serves it gains nothing, only ruins. It ruins both the persons ethics and his relationship. It should be eradicated.

  • Rod Gibson Music

    Who does your animations? They're gr8. Is Alain De Botton the narrator of this channel?

  • 7 Star General Dipshit De Turd

    I've never seen diplomacy as a government mandated authoritarian type thing but as a civil and reasonable way of doing things?

  • Bilal Khan

    I want to be a great diplomat is some who direct me towards it

  • Francis Mausley

    Good points. "Human utterance is an essence which aspireth to exert its influence and needeth moderation … as to its moderation, this hath to be combined with tact and wisdom…" ~ Baha'i Faith

  • Ann Jirjis

    AS long as the diplomats are assured of their salary, it doesn't matter whom they are getting outraged as long as it isn't the one paying their salary….it is the art of deceiving others knowing for sure that they wouldn't be punished for it, and the offended person can't do anything about it… is being in position of abusing power and being in gang that defend him/her even if they are at fault.

  • N. D

    Rough recap: "We need diplomacy at home and at work to advance a cause without unleashing violent opposition. We must respectfully & patiently listen to even the smallest arguments and show a deep understanding of the opposition 's point of view, concede small points to the opponent to avoid his humiliation. It is hard to make someone change it is better to help him grow which is also not easy because people have fear of change. So, it is important to give love or reassurance. Deliver a criticism in a sugar pill and know that small lies are better than a genuine deal breaker truth in the name of self-righteousness .Stay serene in the face of mean attacks. Also better to sidestep and let an opponent crash than trying to teach him a lesson, better wait until the next best chance of being heard. Never lose what is at stake and forgot about the minor issues. Diplomats are prepared for shortcomings and flaws of human nature. Compromise is necessary in an imperfect world. Sometimes deliver a harsh truth dishing out the rage is useful. Then help the person to deal with this new reality".

  • Megaseawolf

    Basic point: it is not a zero sum game ?

  • Angelina K

    Same here. Cause it’s monotonous.

  • richard wilmot Ph.D

    Butt Plug Diplomacy… No longer just a unique sex toy, BUTT PLUGS are an essential part of today's statesmanship.

    Thanks to Wikileaks we now know that Carter, Sadat of Egypt and Began of Israel all used Butt Plugs while at Camp David. In fact Butt Plugs are offered quite normally to State Dept. personnel. A Big Basket of Butt Plugs exists in the Board Room of Every Embassy & Consulate… but if a butt plug is found underneath your pillow, that's an indication from your supervisor that your use of a butt plug is mandatory.

    Hitler knew the value of butt plugs but failed to use them: it cost him the war:

  • HiDaze


  • Hamza Turan Kubilay

    So being a diplomat is a kind of stoicism. You referred being sad inside.

  • Sane India

    Thanks for this.

  • Kojima Powered

    What if diplomacy fails?

  • Toni Haikarainen

    I summed up the meaning of being a diplomat like this: "Diplomat is someone who understands the sometimes corrupt, mean and delusional nature of human beings and strives to act from a place of empathy and serenity. He is one with everyone."

  • Janas Freiheiten

    I love the animation of the breaking glass of water.

  • Janas Freiheiten

    This is so me (most of the time) and also fits to the MBTI personality group of diplomats.

  • Aaron's Toys, Science and Math World

    Diplomacy in seven words, everyone smiles akwardly when they shake hands

  • Eka

    His voice is extremely soothing

  • Ladrika Malcom

    Awesome video!


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