Tact is a skill that can turn brutal honesty into just honesty.
It’s a skill that develops with practice, and one that’s harder to use when emotions are running high.
But you can’t go towards someone with a verbal fist and expect a hug in return.
When method matches intention, outcomes are much more peaceful.
Try to focus on what you want for an outcome rather than the pain you are feeling in the moment…for example if a person says,
“You always ignore me!”
“We really need to plan some quality time together. I miss you.”
Both are likely “true,” but one would likely lead to a defensive reaction/argument and the other could lead to the desired outcome.
So think to yourself, “what do I want to achieve out of this?” and then speak to someone with that intention. That way it’s more about communication rather than venting.
Hiding or trying to avoid pain will only cause it to grow and fester. That would only lead to bigger arguments with much more ammunition in the future.
As with any skill, the beginning is always the hardest. If the relationship is important to you and you want to keep it long-term, put the effort in to develop your tact and ultimately, your communication skills.
In moments of frustration, remember that it will get easier as you grow through it. Deep breaths, honesty, openness, and patience with yourself and the other person.
Tact in receiving is also a skill that needs to be developed over time. Especially with past pain triggers, receiving any sort of hard news can be perceived as criticism, judgment, or something else negative.
Instead of getting defensive or trying to shut down the conversation, listen to resolve.
Clarify with your truth if something isn’t true in your opinion. “No I didn’t!” or “You’re crazy!” won’t get as good a response as “I can understand why you think that, but from my perspective, this is what happened.” or “Please don’t assume the worst about me. We’re on the same side here.”
Stay on topic to keep it to a manageable size and resist the temptation to deflect and grow the argument with other things or times they’ve done the same. Resolving everything as it comes up prevents it from coming up again later. Blindly agreeing in words just to end the conversation will not resolve it, but only delay it. With resolution comes relief.
We’re not taught this well if at all. It’s something we have to learn in order to have peace in relationships — all types of relationships. If we don’t develop it, we can risk miscommunication breaking apart good people and labeling ourselves the victim and others the villains. That’s no way to foster long-term relationships or a deeper understanding of both ourselves and others.
Age brings only experience but maturity brings peace. Age happens naturally but maturity is a choice and commitment to a better, happier life.