I grew up spending a lot of time watching people both sell large projects and advocate to politicians. When you’re trying to get a commitment on building something as large as a hydroelectric dam, you end up having to deal with every possible personality type, from the hyper focused profit driven business man, to the politician, who, while is altruistic about the environment and serving his constituents, is still “a politician”. In such a complex environment of personalities, there is always at least one person that has an oppositional personality, and in those cases, no matter how polite you may be in your candidness, they take offense.
There were times I found myself amazed at how that team would deal with a difficult situation in a way that at first it almost seemed like they were speaking in circles and not directly addressing what was just said by the people standing in front of them. They would have seemingly impossible levels of patience while the people across the table from them were demanding, adversarial, and sometimes even irrational in the communication of their points of view. The project managers’ way of, not just staying level-headed, but actually finding a way to address the issue while skirting the confrontation almost seemed like verbal dancing. I was fascinated.
It was years later, I heard the term “diplospeak” which is shorthand for a diplomat’s way of conveying very difficult messages without ever being confrontational. They must remain truthful and excessively polite in the face of high tension political environments. In their line of work, simply using the wrong words could quite literally start a war.