Character Trait Entry: Diplomatic

Definition: acting with fairness and equality; appearing to have unbiased judgment and neutrality in order to achieve an end

Causes: growing up with two or more siblings; being responsible for people who's views, attitudes and needs differ; working in management; obtaining a position of power and wanting to keep it; trustworthiness; a strong sense of  teamwork and community; a desire to support or advise someone in power

Characters in Literature: Astrophil, Petra's tin spider (Cabinet of Wonders); Alfred Pennyworth (Batman); Minerva McGonagall (Harry Potter)

Positives: Diplomatics are often wise, far-seeing and intelligent. They can remove themselves emotionally from the situation and are skilled at providing insight and details that will help others make decisions that will best serve the greater good, or the good of all. Natural peacemakers, this character type tends to not let passion rule them. Diplomatics are careful with their words and will seek out information, investigate, gather intelligence and obtain feedback before weighing in or offering potential solutions. Diplomatics are supportive, loyal and trustworthy and make good confidantes.

Negatives:  Diplomatics can sometimes be viewed as cold or emotionless, because of their ability to take a situation with real human costs and whittle it down to a set of choices or possible outcomes. Diplomatics are not usually sole decision makers, and often look to others to bear the final responsibility that comes with making choices. Friends will bring their disputes, beefs and arguments to this character type, expecting to be heard and counseled. This can lead to high stress and unhappiness, as well as a sense of frustration born from knowing that whatever is decided, someone will always be dissatisfied with the outcome, because fairness often means no winners or losers.

Common Portrayals: Government diplomats, parents, teachers and principals, professional advisers, counselors and psychiatrists; business consultants; a best friend; butlers, secretaries and loyal support staff

Cliches to Avoid:   The diplomat who is power hungry and completely undiplomatic; the 'third wheel' friend who becomes a trusted confidant to his or her bestie's romantic partner, all the while harboring a secret crush for them

Twists on the Traditional Diplomatic:  
  • Diplomacy is easier if one does not have personal stakes in the possible outcome. Show us a character who is invested in what happens, and the moral tug-o-war that goes with attempting to not influence decisions based on one's own emotions. 
  • Diplomacy is often trying to satisfy all involved parties with a decision that provides a best case scenario outcome across the board. What happens when there is no best case...all options are equally painful or terrible to fathom?
  • Put the fate of a Diplomatic character in the hands of a rash, emotional opposite. How do they cope without that sense of fairness and careful consideration? How do they find a way to influence, reason with or work around this type of opposite?
Conflicting Characteristics to make your  unique or more interesting: Reckless, Shy, Stubborn, Critical, Eccentric

15 comments:

JeffO said...

Funny, when I think of 'diplomatic' I also immediately think of people who do their best not to offend or hurt feelings, who, when asked for an honest opinion, find a way (if it's negative) to couch it in positives so as not upset someone. I suppose that's more 'empathetic' than diplomatic, though, based on the definition you have here.

Angela Ackerman said...

Hi Jeff,

This trait was funny in the sense that there were several definitions to choose from. I had to narrow the focus so I went with the 'focus on unbiased/neutrality' aspect of it. :)

R. E. Hunter said...

My reaction was the same as JeffO's. In fact, I haven't seen a definition of diplomacy that used the word "neutrality". A diplomat is typically working for, and supposedly loyal to, one specific side. A good definition I saw was:
of or relating to diplomacy or diplomats; skilled in negotiating, esp between states or people; tactful in dealing with people.

It was once humorously defined to me as "being able to describe Hell in terms that make you look forward to arriving there."

Becca Puglisi said...

Ooooh. Nice clichè examples.

This is an interesting trait because it epitomizes how we are so often defined by our actions. In our minds, we all have leanings one way or the other, but if we consistently act fair and unbiased, we're categorized as diplomatic. Another example of how we're defined by others' perceptions of us, rather than who we truly are on the inside.

Good choice, Ange.

Angela Ackerman said...

"Diplomatic suggests a smoothness and skill in handling others, usually in such a way as to attain one's own ends and yet avoid any unpleasantness or opposition"

This is one of the definitions I was working from. Sorry, when I say neutrality, I mean that one 'acts' neutral in their position (think like a mother with two squabbling children) in order to supply a solution that seems reasonable to those involved--finding middle ground, or a solution that is agreeable to both even though it may not be exactly what they wanted.

Perhaps I did not quite convey this in my post. I'll have a look and see if I can tweak this a bit to bring it out more.

Jemi Fraser said...

Astrophil is a great choice - I really enjoyed that book! :)

Carrie Butler said...

Alfred! Oh, I love it. Great post, Angela! :D

Bonnee said...

Another insightful update, thank you! :)

Traci Kenworth said...

A great character to have around!!

unikorna said...

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The Golden Eagle said...

A diplomatic character with other, darker traits would be fascinating to write.

Great post!

Becca Puglisi said...

So great to have you here, unikorna!

Leslie Rose said...

My kids want to give a shout out to Giles in Buffy the Vampire Slayer their diplomatic character. Yes, we discuss your character posts as a family.

Sherry Isaac said...

Judy Dench as Bond's 'M' added a nice, non-cliche twist as well as modernizing Bond. A powerful woman.

Rafael said...

Interesting. I just finished a post on World Building talking about trade and traders and one of the critical skills for a trader, be in fantasy or science fiction is diplomacy. They have to navigate different culture, customs and societies to get the goods they want and the services they need.

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