The Art of Assertiveness and Tact: Raise Your Executive Presence with Assertive and Tactful Communication

“If you choose your words as you choose your shoes then they would always be soft, comforting, supportive, and would always fit the occasion.” ― Wyatt Allen

A lot has been talked about how effective communication is extremely important for good Executive Presence. Leaders who can communicate well not only maintain good work relationships but also bring out maximum team productivity. However, a lot goes into making communication effective at the Executive level. One has to make sure that one is taken seriously without ever sounding rude or offensive. This is where the art of assertiveness and tact comes in. Let us talk more about these two qualities and how a leader can develop them for effective communication.

What do Assertiveness and Tact Stand for?

Being assertive involves being able to communicate respectfully and with assurance. Conversely, being aggressive is gaining what you want regardless of the cost to others. Being delicate and assertive at the same time is possible. However, it's definitely challenging to be assertive without using tact.

Tact is the capacity to identify delicate situations and respond correctly. Acting sensitively and respectfully is what it means to be tactful. Thoughtfulness is a necessary component of tact, but assertiveness is not sacrificed in the process. Sometimes people mistakenly believe that being forceful and being aggressive are the same thing.

A workplace may include multiple personalities coming from different backgrounds and with different sets of ideas. Therefore, they may become breeding grounds for conflicts of interest. Sometimes, you might be acting aggressively without realizing if you're not taking other people into account. This is where you can use a combination of tact and assertiveness to express yourself effectively without shouting or being disrespectful.

Therefore, tact and assertiveness go hand in effective communication, particularly during negotiations and while trying to be persuading or assertive. Using tact and assertiveness appropriately can lead to better connections with others and help to build and cultivate mutual respect, which can lead to more effective outcomes and less difficult or unpleasant discussions.

What are the Prerequisites for Tact and Assertiveness?

In addition to a certain degree of common sense, sound judgment, and experience in a variety of settings, the effective use of tact and assertiveness depends on some other critical abilities, specifically:

  • Effective Listening: To understand others and respond to them effectively, you must be able to listen attentively to both what is being said and how it is being stated.
  • Emotional Intelligence: People with higher emotional intelligence typically communicate with more subtlety and diplomacy. The degree to which we comprehend both our own feelings and those of others is known as emotional intelligence.
  • Showing Empathy: As an extension of emotional intelligence, empathy is your ability to see the world from another person’s perspective. It helps you understand people and their needs better.
  • Rapport: Rapport is closely linked to tact and diplomacy as well as emotional intelligence and good manners. A rapport is a link or a relationship with another person. It could be described as a harmonic condition of understanding another person or group. The process of establishing such a connection with another person is known as building rapport.
  • Diplomacy: Being diplomatic is maintaining good relations with others at all times. It doesn't mean you have to like them; it just means you're sensitive to them. You respect them for the work they do and acknowledge that everyone makes mistakes from time to time.
  • Politeness: Being polite and courteous, and respecting other people’s viewpoints and cultural differences are important in many interpersonal relationships.

In order for a leader to be a master communicator with tact and assertiveness, he or she must look into the above-mentioned qualities. Not only would they then be able to assess themselves and what they need for being great leaders, but also help them get the best from their formal negotiations.

Strategies for Tact and Assertiveness

Due to the unexpected nature of communication and human relations in general, it can be difficult to understand what behavior is suitable in any particular circumstance. The best course of action may sometimes be to keep your mouth shut. It may also be able to offer a concept or preferred result in a way that the other person can own it. In other circumstances, it may be appropriate to adopt a forthright posture by outlining your goals and your intended course of action.

The following tactics are meant to get you to consider how you might properly plan for and employ tact and diplomacy:

  • Visualize the Outcome Beforehand: When preparing for a potentially challenging talk, you should first think about what you want to accomplish—what is your preferred result? Consider your justifications as you write them down. Try to stand back from your personal ideas and consider the situation's facts instead.
  • Plan for Contingencies: Think about and list any potential complaints from third parties. Consider your responses to their issues carefully; show that you have taken into account their viewpoints or arguments.
  • Maintain Your Cool: Avoid entering into negotiations in a tense or aggressive manner. Try to maintain your composure and an open mind. Before you respond, ascertain the truth and what is and is not feasible.
  • Listen: Listen to what the other person (or individuals) has to say when communicating. To better grasp someone's message, pay attention to nonverbal cues including body language and voice tone. When you have had a chance to comprehend the other person's perspective, reserve your own opinions and ideas. Then, carefully prepare your comments to correspond with the feedback you are receiving.
  • Negotiate: If what you want conflicts with the other person's viewpoints, you might need to talk about how compromises might be made to produce a better outcome over time for both of you. One-sided sacrifice is rarely viewed favorably; mutual sacrifice is. Aim to come to a settlement that benefits both parties.
  • Offer Logistics: Strengthen your argument by offering time scales of when you foresee the benefit of your proposals being reached. Be precise in giving figures and dates. Favor logic and fact over personal opinion. Have something written or drawn out in advance, if it helps.
  • Breathe before Reacting: Try to give yourself room to respond in ways that help rather than exacerbate a situation if the conversation becomes heated. If you can, stop yourself before your first instinct takes control by taking a deep breath and giving yourself some time. Instead of feeling compelled to respond right away, let the other person know that you need some time to consider what they just said.
  • Take Charge: Instead of letting things get out of hand and running the danger of saying or doing something you might later regret, take charge of the situation. A key component of displaying tact and diplomacy is taking charge of social events in a way that makes both parties satisfied with the outcome.
  • Focus on the goal at all times: Remain focused on the desired result and avoid getting sidetracked, veering off course, or getting mired in unimportant minutiae. Keep in mind to be aggressive; being diplomatic and tactful does not necessitate caving in to pressure or giving up on what you want.


We all know individuals who have the ability to negotiate favorable terms or who can talk their way out of challenging circumstances almost always succeed in their endeavors. Long-term success, therefore, is dependent on good communication skills, preparation, self-control, confidence, and emotional intelligence. What sets one apart in terms of Executive Presence is how he or she responds to difficult situations. The art of tact and assertiveness can help leaders to face challenges and always bring preferable outcomes. This is extremely crucial for one’s professional as well as the organization’s success.