Nikki Haley is the United States' Ambassador to the United Nations. (AP)

Nikki Haley is the United States' Ambassador to the United Nations. (AP)

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson is in charge of the nation’s relations with other countries. (AP)

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson is in charge of the nation’s relations with other countries. (AP)

Diplomats must show respect for other cultures, even if they seem very strange. (AP)

Diplomats must show respect for other cultures, even if they seem very strange. (AP)

Diplomacy—What Is It?

Posted: September 1, 2017

In panda diplomacy, China gives pandas as gifts to other countries. Other countries practice diplomacy in other ways. What is diplomacy, anyway? Why is it needed?

Imagine this. You are a diplomat from your home country. You have to work with leaders from other nations to solve problems or keep peace. Here are some issues you might need to work on: How should we use the oceans? How should we explore outer space? How can we share resources, do business across borders, and prevent wars?

Whoa! Those are HUGE questions! As a diplomat, you represent the people of your country. So you will need to have a rock-solid understanding of what will do your home country the most good. But that isn’t enough. You also need respect for the people you will be working with. You must know what their cultures are like, what might hurt their feelings, and what will give them honor. You’ll even need to know their customs and manners. For example, when you meet with a Japanese diplomat for dinner, you’ll want to slurp your soup loudly. In America, that’s rude. In Japan, it means “yum!” You’ll have to learn other rules too—and probably give them lots of practice. You’ll have to use chopsticks to put noodles into your mouth. And don’t bend down toward your bowl! Bring your bowl to your face with your hands.

Here’s another important part of diplomacy. When you deal with such complicated issues, you will not be able to make everyone happy all the time. So you will probably have to know how to say “no” with graciousness. And you will have to learn to listen to others very well.

You might not be headed to a dinner with a foreign president or king any time soon. But a little diplomacy will do you good in every part of your life. Being diplomatic is treating others with respect. It’s trying hard to keep peace but sticking to the truth at the same time.

If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all. — Romans 12:18