Dear Seniors,

In my career of 5 years as an HR person, in many instances my seniors and colleagues have told me that I am straightforward and that's not suitable for the HR field, i have to be diplomatic to be successful.

How far is this true?


From India, Mettupalayam
Dinesh Divekar
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Dinesh Divekar

Dear Sudha,

Whether one is an HR functionary or otherwise, one has to be diplomatic anyway.

A straightforward person:

a) Tells the truth, whether the other person likes it or not
b) Says "yes" or "no" upfront
c) Does not camouflage his/her feelings
d) Does not sugarcoat his/her words

In contrast, a diplomatic person does the same job with a little nicety. A diplomatic person:

a) Uses interpersonal skills to the core
b) Does not show a mirror to the other person if it is not called for
c) Does not speak about other's weaknesses unnecessarily
d) Does not tell truth if it is not required. He/she follows the following Sanskrit shloka:

सत्यं ब्रूयात् प्रियं ब्रूयात् , न ब्रूयात् सत्यम् अप्रियम् ।
प्रियं च नानृतम् ब्रूयात् , एष धर्मः सनातन: ॥

- Manusmriti, Verse 4.138

Meaning: - One Must speak truthfully and dearly, But not speaking unpleasant truth and not speaking dear untruth is "Sanatana Dharma".

Qualities of a Diplomatic Person: - A diplomatic person, sometimes ensure that things are done without saying anything. Otherwise, a diplomatic person ensures that someone else speaks what he/she wants to say. However, being diplomatic does not mean being submissive. Being diplomatic requires being assertive or having great control over emotions.

An Example of being Straightforward and being Diplomatic: - It is as below:

A manager joins newly. He does not like the internal environment. He finds that work slows down because of the lack of basic facilities. After a few weeks, his senior asks how does he feel to be in the company. Following are the replies for each category:

A Straightforward Manager: - Sometimes it is boring to work here as even basic facilities are not provided.

A Diplomatic Manager: - Hygienic factors have not allowed my motivation to get hit.

Living a Life of Values and Principles: - When one is diplomatic or a straightforward person, one must live a life of values and principles. Being diplomatic need not mean doing a trade-off with the values. Of course, it is also a challenge, but one has to live with it.


Dinesh Divekar

From India, Bangalore

Dear Sir,

Thanks a lot for your clear explanation. I owe you for this answer really.

In my organisation there has been times where i was forced to handle situations diplomatically and employees have felt that giving the truth straight would have been good.

I understand that based on the situations I have to be straightforward or diplomatic.


From India, Mettupalayam
Babu Alexander

Sharing of information “to be diplomatic or to be successful”.

My life experience, when I was a HR-Manager for big group, (a ‘small fish in a big pond’ )with multi state location. All of you aware in our old system, whenever any General Manager is posted on transfer, from one state to another, the first thing, certain positions including HR, functions, while in the process of system and personnel to be to revamped to his personal choices. Preferably his favorite to be transferred /re located from his earlier location.

I was caught in one such trap, in the sense, one fine morning, the new General Manager, called me to his cabin, and asked me ‘that he wanted me, to find out a way to generate one lakh revenue, for the Ladies Club, on an urgent basis,. The Ladies club was active in that residential colony. (Wife of General Manager was nominated as new President).

I know for certain that if I say that ‘Not possible, either I will be out of employment, or transferred to another remote place. Taken time for 24 hours to reply, came sat in my office. Thinking and again thinking for more than 6 hours and finally contacted few external advertisement agencies.

Next day exactly after 24 hours, I reported before the young energetic General Manager,in his cabin, and said boldly, that I could generate one lakh fund directly to Ladies Club, subject to Management extending permission to fix advertisement hoardings, by two external agencies, inside the space adjourning the colony area, on 12 months lease basis, facing national high way.

The result was fantastic / memorable, not only General Manager got out of the chair and hugged and lifted me, but also an invitation was extended to the Head office / corporate office at Bombay, with gifts, promotions for recognition of creative ideas. The same idea was later suggested to all group works.

From India, Madras

We are taught to call a spade a spade, but the later life has taught us to be milder and more diplomatic. In trying to be diplomatic, one shall not be michavellian. Be true to your words, try to fulfill all commitments made and in case you find problem take the initiative and inform the other party before he checks up the progress. Remember that credibility matters a lot in the HR field, perceptions make or mar the person, particularly for an HR man, he is to be seen as a reliable person.
From India, Mumbai

Dear Colleague,

Very great and valuable insights given by our Colleagues for your query.

To add:

At least 6 out of 10 HR Professionals will have such dilemma in their career. Very good point to discuss.

HR being a profession to deal with People this has to be done in a way that brings a Win-Win situation between different segments. In this case the HR professional has to create his own style and have his own brand. As you are now around 5 years in the filed, soon you will have your own brand which you never compromise. Be honest as you are now and never compromise for the benefit of few reasons. BE YOURSELF AND HAVE YOUR REAL IMAGE.

No one - Employees, Managers, Unions, Govt Officials, Management will dare to bend you for any of their desires as and when they understand that your BRAND is this. For establishing this you need to demonstrate that you are like this and you will not like to compromise your basic values and qualities.

There may be few ups and downs in career but end of the career you will have lot of satisfaction and pride. Be yourself. You can be tactful for your profession still without compromising your good qualities and value system but for the overall benefit of the organization, business, and wellness of employees.

So be TACTFUL without compromising your VALUE SYSTEM. Practice this and create your OWN BRAND. God bless.

From India, Chennai

In addition to the above posts, you may find this presentation also helpful.

I think being diplomatic is an art and skill and if we work upon it, we can develop it over a period of time.

All the best.

From India, Delhi

Attached Files (Download Requires Membership)
File Type: pdf 10 Simple Ways to Combat Office Politics.pdf (765.1 KB, 109 views)


Dear Sudha,

Its all about discovering the new ways of calling spade a spade. In order to convey something one has to be very about tweaking the message not diluting the message.

Hope these two lines helps.

Amol Nakve

From India, Mumbai

Dear Sudha

First you need to understand that being straightforward does not mean being rude. It means that you tell the truth. If you do it while empathising with people involved or affected, you will probably do well. In some cases you have no option but to follow a particular path, you need to be able to tell that also truthfully. That is being straight forward.

In contrast, being diplomatic does not mean you need to lie or avoid telling the truth, or hiding a fact. In actually means that you need to be tactful. Where possible, instead of telling a harsh reality if you can find another way to convey the same, without hiding the fact or without compromising on your duty, that is an important HR Skill.

A very basic example, If you have someone who will lose his job if he does not be punctual, you can either call him and tell him he will be fired or you can call him and discuss his lack of punctuality and how it affects work, organisation, discipline and rules. At the same time, you need to be clear to him that he needs to improve and warn him that if improvements are not visible, soon the management is likely to terminate his services.

In the above case, you are being diplomatic as well as straightforward. The two are not mutually exclusive.

From India, Mumbai
What’s a Great Topic to Discussion, Always Getting Knowledge, Motivation, Skills to Read Mr Divekar Ji .
From India, Delhi

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