1 : the art and practice of conducting negotiations between nations
2 : skill in handling affairs without arousing hostility : TACT

Source: www.merriam-webster.com


Diplomacy (n.): 1796, from French diplomatie, formed from diplomatediplomat” (on model of aristocratie from aristocrate), from Latin adjective diplomaticos, from diplomaofficial document conferring a privilege.” (related to diploma and diplomatic)

Diplomatic (adj.): 1711, “pertaining to documents, texts, charters,” from Medieval Latin diplomaticus, from diplomat– stem of diploma.

Meaning “pertaining to international relations” is recorded from 1787, apparently a sense evolved in 18th century from the use of diplomaticus in Modern Latin titles of collections of international treaties, etc. In the general sense of “tactful and adroit,” it dates from 1826.

Diploma (n.): 1640s, “state paper, official document,” from Latin diploma, from Greek diplomalicense, chart,” originally “paper folded double,” from diplounto double, fold over,” from diploosdouble” (diploid) + oma. Specific academic sense is 1680s in English.

Source: www.etymonline.com


“Never hate your enemies. It affects your judgment.”

Mario Puzo (1920-1999, American author, screenwriter, and journalist; best known for his novels about the Mafia, most notably The Godfather)

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Diplomacy is the art of telling people to go to hell in such a way that they ask for directions.”

Winston S. Churchill (1874-1965, Prime Minister of the United States from 1940 and 1945 and again from 1951-1955)

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Diplomacy is the velvet glove that cloaks the fist of power.”

Robin Hobb (b. Margaret Astrid Lindholm Ogden in 1952, American fantasy fiction writer and best known for the books set in the Realm of the Elderlings)

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“I observe and remain silent.”

Elizabeth I Tudor (1533-1603, Queen of England and Ireland from 1558 until her death; daughter of Henry VIII and his second wife, Anne Boleyn; and the fifth and last monarch of the Tudor dynasty)

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“Tact is the knack of making a point without making an enemy.”

Isaac Newton (Sir Isaac Newton, 1643-1727, English physicist and mathematician, one of the foremost scientific intellects of all time)

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“Truth without love is brutality, and love without truth is hypocrisy.”

Warren W. Wiersbe (b. 1929, American pastor, bible teacher, speaker, and writer)

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“People who keep their feelings to themselves tend not to know, after a while, what their feelings are.”

Paul Berman (b. 1949, American writer on politics and literature; author of A Tale of Two Utopias, Terror and Liberalism, Power and the Idealist, and The Flight of the Intellectuals)

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“Diplomacy is the art of telling people to go to hell in such a way that they ask for directions.”

— Winston S. Churchill

When I saw this quote by Winston Churchill it made me smile, because my grandmother, Modear, once told me something similar, but with her own special twist.

Modear had picked me up for some event.  I was sixteen years old at the time.  I was impatient and in a hurry to get somewhere, although I hadn’t a clue where that somewhere was located.

All I knew was that my Georgian maternal grandmother was walking too slow and talking too quietly.  She did not fit into the frantic and loud pace of New York City.

I must have said something rude, believing that I had it all together with my young city swagger, because Modear said, “Tonya, do you know what diplomacy means?” I told her no. She said, “It’s means telling someone to go to hell and having them look forward to the journey.”

Shocked, my mouth dropped open, understanding for the first time my grandmother’s depth and shrewdness.  And there I thought she wasn’t a sophisticated NY woman. But, my grandmother was beyond savvy.  She was a ninja and could be a cutthroat when an opponent least expected it.

Annie was born in the 1920s in Columbus, GA, the eldest of eight children.  Later after getting married and raising three children, she received her master’s in nursing in her late forties early fifties.

Annie, my grandmother, was an astute professional career woman, a pioneer before her time.  Modear also raised money through her nursing sorority for nursing scholarships, so that the torch could be passed along to other black young women in the field.  She also spoke many times in public.

There was one speech I remember so vividly.  I was older then in my thirties and had children of my own.  Modear proposed to the audience at the Roosevelt Hotel that every encounter mattered, even if it only lasted for 5 minutes.  We each had the choice to connect in a meaningful way and leave something loving or a feeling of hurt behind.

I think about Modear and her wisdom all the time, especially now that she helps me from the Other Side.

I think about both of my grandmothers, not only Modear but Nana too who is still living, and how much vision they both had for their families.

These women worked hard and sometimes took a lot of abuse.  But, they also kept their eyes on the prize by giving their children, grandchildren and great grandchildren  the blueprints for hopeful, beautiful, and prosperous lives.

I know now it’s just good manners to take the high road and to speak compassionately to another human being.  Yes, that’s diplomacy, but that’s also strength and a mark of strong character too.

Stay alert and aware on the yellow brick road, my friends, and cherish the many nuances of your journeys.

Love, Tonya


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