It was Barbara Kingsolver who wrote, “If you never stepped on anybody’s toes, you’ve never been for a walk.” Well, we’ve all been for a walk and that means at some time in our lives we have stepped on a few toes.
Enter the amazing little virtue of TACT. That’s our virtue for this week. Tact is adding kindness to everything you think, say, and do. Tact is something that comes before opening mouth and inserting foot. Tact is the ability to tell the truth in a way that considers other people’s feelings and reactions. It allows you to give difficult feedback, communicate sensitive information, and say the right thing to preserve a relationship.
The ability to communicate with sensitivity offers many benefits when you are the one who has to deliver bad news to someone, or provide critical feedback, whether in personal or professional situations. Tact strengthens your self-esteem while preserving the self-esteem of the one on the other end of your communication. It builds trust in yourself and in others when you’re a “straight-shooter” with heart.
Tact means when our words are weighty, we weigh our words, knowing that they have the power to uplift or to cause pain. Tact is the encouragement option. It doesn’t shy away from the facts or the truth. But it comes out in a way that brings confidence to others, not discouragement and shame.
An ancient quote goes “Use a sweet tongue, courtesy, and gentleness, and thou mayest manage to guide an elephant by a hair.”