“Tact is a simple little word, but it has a wonderful meaning. The dictionary defines it “ready power of appreciation and doing what is required by circumstances.” -Theron Q. Dumont Advanced Course in Personal Magnetism The Secrets of Mental Fasciation
You don’t hear the word tact very often anymore. Merriam-Webster defines it as “a keen sense of what to do or say in order to maintain good relations with others or to avoid offense.” When you’re dealing with others it is important to observe the person and get a good feel for their character, temperament and to understand how they communicate.
You can’t deal with everyone in the same way. We have all hear the saying “as in Rome, do as the Romans do.” Having tact means being skillful in your social relations. Knowing how to maneuver and avoid unnecessary conflicts is extremely valuable and can be used to win people over in many different situations.
One of the best ways of using tact that I know of from personal experience is through humor. Its hard to dislike a person when they can make you laugh. At my first job I worked with a bunch of thugs. It was at a large barbeque restaurant and the management was composed of mainly ex-cons who liked to hire their buddies and give them a working opportunity as it can be hard to find with a criminal record. I was a bit out of place being an average teenage white guy working with a bunch of tattooed Mexican gangsters in El Paso, Texas, but it was a great experience that improved my use of tact.
I couldn’t talk to these guys like I did with my friends. They were always looking for an opportunity to assert their dominance and find a weakness when they talked to you, and they acted real tough. What I could do though, was make them laugh. One of them would come up to me and say something, poking and prodding, trying to see if they could intimidate me. I’d respond in a way that they didn’t expect. I’d laugh and smile at their words of intimidation or insults and then I’d crack a joke and make them laugh. Their eyes would light up and those tough shells would melt away along with the joke and they started taking a liking towards me.
We would joke and laugh and mess around all the time and I became friends with all of those thugs. It was quite a sight to see, a tall skinny white guy laughing with a bunch of tattooed thugs who had served time and were all much older than I was. They had tried to crack me but couldn’t. Its hard to hurt the feelings and get a negative response from someone with a good sense of humor. People can admire others who can smile and joke in the face of adversity and I soon gained their respect.
It wasn’t always all fine and dandy though. There was a couple of times when I had to use tact in a different way. Those guys highly valued respect and sometimes making a joke when challenged wasn’t the best use of tact, it was seen as a weakness. I had to stand my ground and be firm in what I said because I knew that was something those guys valued too. A few times it even came to going outside and body-boxing with a few of the guys because words just didn’t cut it, sometimes the communication to gain respect had to be physical.
I was a decent fighter and just being brave enough to exchange a few blows and not back down was all that was needed to earn that respect. Afterwards, we’d shake hands and go back to being friends again. It was wild, but that’s how those guys communicated and I had to use tact to earn my keep, one way or another. I attracted friends in a place that I wasn’t necessarily supposed to because I didn’t communicate with those guys like I would with my friends or like I would with other adults. I adapted to the situation and used tact to make good relationships.
In his book, Dumont explains the use of tact and humor in a series of interactions with his wife. She was all out of sorts because their maid hadn’t prepared the food for dinner like she was supposed to, but instead of fueling his wife’s anger and justifying her rage or bad-mouthing the maid he laughed and made a joke and then asked her if there was anything else they could eat. The two of them ending up finding food for a good meal and having a great evening. He used tact again in a similar experience and achieved the same results, not only saving the day, but also subtly showing his wife the use of tact.
“After these two experiences my wife realized how useless it was to lose her temper and permit herself to be upset over trifling things, or over big ones It does no good and does much harm.”
Another great way I know of using tact is deflection. Its important to realize that you don’t always have to argue every point that you don’t agree with, and that doesn’t mean you have to agree with it either to maintain good relationships. Avoid being triggered by others and getting upset by what they have to say. Losing your temper makes others lose their respect for you.
“The weak person loses his temper easily. The strong one controls his. Don’t show your weakness by constantly losing your temper.”
Have you even known a person who is constantly losing their temper and has to argue with everything? That’s not the kind of person you want to be around; its extremely unmagnetic. When you are confronted by something that someone says that offends you, use tact to deflect it. When they say something trying to get a bad response from you, deflect it. Its not worth the conflict and energy to engage in their negativity and let them pull you into it. Once you have successfully deflected their attempts, you’ll often find them changing their manner towards you and will stop being so defensive.
Now, I know that’s not always going to work and some people like to be negative and angry and argumentative. So ask yourself, why are you even around that kind of person? Why do you allow them into your social life? That type of person steals from your magnetism and you should distance yourself from them as best as you possibly can.
Using tact doesn’t mean letting people walk all over you or to agree with everything other people say. You can use humor, tact and deflection as ways to disagree with people without having to be rude or aggressive or confrontational. You don’t have to be a doormat, but you can use tact to skillfully maneuver yourself through social interaction. Maintain a positive attitude and use tact to make your personality more magnetic and you will find yourself making friends everywhere you go and attracting the right kind of people into your life.