Tuesday, 17 April 2012

How To Be a Smart Diplomat?

US's Secretary of State Hillary Clinton

Opening Ceremony of 20th ASEAN Summit in Phnom Penh on 3 April 2012

Patience, tact and good cross-cultural skills are often mentioned as important qualities to be an effective diplomat. However, much more than that is needed.

In the first place, a good diplomat has to be an effective ‘net-worker’. He or she has to have the ability to develop good relations with the various officials and opinion-makers in the country of accreditation who can affect relations with his or her country. For an ambassador, this requires not only developing contacts at the highest levels of government but also ensuring good relations with senators and with influential journalists and media owners.

Secondly, a good diplomat has to have a good political sense of current trends in the country of accreditation and future directions. He or she has to have a ‘nose’ for opportunities (political, economic etc) that may arise in the country of accreditation and bring them to the attention of his government with an assessment of the cost/benefits of various options;

Thirdly, he or she has to have good writing and presentational skills. A capable diplomat has to be able to write clearly and explain the background to decisions taken by the sending government or by the receiving government. He or she also needs to have good presentational, debating and media skills. Many Foreign offices teach their recruits these skills at an early stage of their career.

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