Sunday, June 12, 2011

Irish Diplomacy

There is an old practice I have always held in high regard, but sadly, find to be
rare. Irish Diplomacy. As it was described to me: "The ability to tell a man to go to
Hell in such a manner as to make him look forward to the trip."

In this day and age, it is not only common place, but encouraged, to use profanity
and immediately tell off, confront or insult others like some great game of "Beat you
to it." Much like my earlier post about "Bitch" and its true absence as any kind of
compliment, this behaviour is still very much a defense reaction. Look hard, sound
badass, and get to others before they get to you. Many lost opportunities are the
result of this practice, and the one hurling insults merely winds up appearing
insecure, defensive, and dare I say "scared"?
But I am not here to discuss the psychology of today's crass-is-cool mentality. I am
here to celebrate, and possibly mourn, the art of diplomatically, methodically, and
thoroughly observing, assessing and cataloguing an individual's display of ignorance,
arrogance or other offense that has graduated to the point of making it impossible to
overlook or excuse.
Mind you, I never (repeat NEVER) condone ignorant behaviour as that is no more than
enabling idiocy and harm to others. The point here is knowing when to choose one's
battles, and being able to choose them wisely. This is something I am going to be
covering in another post, but for the time being, I will refer to it here because it
More often than not, abrasive individuals act out at, condescend to and project onto
others out of their own insecurities and/or thoughtlessness. Reciprocating with the
same type of behaviour only enforce it and brings one down to the offender's level.
(Boy, haven't we all heard that one before? Maybe because it's true.)
There are also times when someone will act out for other reasons: frustration,
stress, illness, or the inability to look at things from the viewpoint of others,
leaving them essentially blind to their own foolishness. We all know this is even
worse, horribly amplified in groups who are all simply acting and reacting rather
than thinking.
So comes diplomacy: Take a moment to size up the offense. Often dismissing it takes
the wind out of their sails and demonstrates to their cheer squad that they really
are not as all-powerful as originally believed. Often it can be diffused with a few
words to clarify a situation. This is a different situation and also requires some
self-control. Clarifying with a degree of matter-of-fact indifference. It is entirely
too easy to sound defensive, to over-explain and to hand all control back to the
blowhard. It is important to make it clear that the unspoken message is "Welcome to
the loop. Now move along." but with perhaps a touch of implied compassion.. "I'm
sorry hear you were left out of the loop."
But I digress (greatly) and will leave off there, only to recap in another long-
winded post about communication skills, active listening and choosing one's battles
wisely later on.
Returning to topic: There comes a point after all of the compassion (alluded to, or
otherwise), the dismissals and taking nothing personally (rightfully so.. it is their
issue, not yours), that one must finally put a pup in check, but without stooping to
their level. Remember, it is not personal. It is an oaf with little to no foresight,
a narrow field of vision and an unending supply of insecurity.
Irish diplomacy is that graceful, smiling delivery of the accounting of shortcomings
and errors that is so eloquent (as many Irish are known to be), that the unprepared,
narrow-minded, somewhat confused individual will hear the diplomat out, word for
word, believing every syllable to be a compliment of observation due to the almost
admiringly smooth delivery. It is usually only after the delivery of the diplomat's
accounting, when the diplomat has politely excused themselves and others have faded
into the woodwork just as confused, or amused, that the offender realizes he or she
has been held to rule and found to come up short, often with well-worded instructions
as to just which direction they can go, how to get there and what to do once there,
IF they are deemed important enough to go that extra mile for.
And this, good people, is Irish Diplomacy. Do I find it is something that is easily
done? Certainly not. Do some have a gift for it? Much to my glee, yes. Can it be
learned? It depends on the individual. There does have to be a strong sense of self-
confidence with a splash of smooth sarcasm.

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