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THE “WHAT WHY & HOW” OF TACT

From The Family Virtues Guide 

WHAT IS TACT?

Tact is telling the truth in a way that does not disturb or offend people. It is knowing what to say and what is better left unsaid. Being tactful is sharing your thoughts, feelings and opinions with others in a way that makes it easier for them to accept it.

Tact is thinking before you speak. Being tactful means knowing when to stay silent.

Often you know things that you could say, but saying them may hurt someone. Rather than telling a lie, being tactful means that you look for a way to share the truth so that it helps rather than hurts the other person. This is especially important when you feel angry or upset.

When you are tactful, you don’t point out people’s differences to embarrass them. You are careful about others’ feelings, as you would like them to be of yours.

WHY PRACTICE TACT?

When people do not practice tact, they are rude and blunt. They go around saying whatever pops into their heads. Other people’s feelings are hurt.

Without tact, when people are angry, they say things that can damage a relationship.

When people are being tactful, the truth is always told with gentleness and kindness. People wait to be asked before sharing anything that may be hurtful. Even if they are angry, tactful people avoid saying mean things. Other people can listen more easily, and so problems can be worked out.

We all grow and learn when the truth is presented to us with tact.

HOW DO YOU PRACTICE TACT?

You practice tact by being kin when you tell the truth. Stop and think before you speak, asking yourself if this is something better left unsaid. Decide whether to keep quiet or speak up. Sometimes being tactful is keeping things to yourself when telling others might hurt them. If you do speak up, do it in a way that is sensitive to another’s feelings. Don’t do it in front of other people in a way that will embarrass them.

If someone asks you a direct question and you think the answer might hurt him or her, give a tactful answer like, “Let me think about it.” Take your time before telling them what you think. This is important when you feel angry. Rather than just attacking someone with your words, wait until you can calmly tell them what you is bothering you in an objective way.

When you practice tactfulness, you don’t draw attention to someone who looks different. You don’t point and laugh, and you don’t look away as if he or she is ugly. You just smile and say hello the way you would with anyone.

When you are really good at practicing tact, you can tell someone almost anything and they will feel good about having heard it.

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Special thanks to The Family Virtues Guide, by Linda Kavelin Popov with Dr. Dan Popov Ph.D., and John Kavelin, and to The Virtues Project, a global grassroots initiative to inspire the practice of virtues in everyday life.

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