Written by: Bula Kalra
It’s commonly said that ‘actions speak louder than words’. However, this saying doesn’t quite hold true when it comes to communication. Although non-verbal communication — through the means of body language, facial expressions and paralanguage — is an essential element of the act of conveying something, it’s often the choice of words and the information transmitted that ultimately determines the success of communication.
As a concept, diplomacy has gained increased importance through the world’s dynamically changing socio-political environment. From the era of world wars, we have now arrived at a scenario where world leaders and representatives are making conscious efforts to maintain peace and stability in their international relations. Diplomacy has the power to avert wars, forge mutually-beneficial friendships, pave the path towards peace, and most importantly, usher in necessary change. Changemakers around the world have effectively used diplomacy as a tool to communicate the intent and process behind their change-making.
Communication as a part of change-making becomes productive only when it is combined with diplomacy. If one is insensitive to others’ needs, opinions or beliefs, and refuses to listen to and acknowledge them, it renders the communication counterproductive and fails to achieve the desired result. Similarly, if one tries to impose their ideas upon others and is unsuccessful in creating a sense of mutual respect, it can make others averse to one’s ideas and create an unwillingness to accept them.
Whether it is at a micro or macro level, it is essential to exercise diplomacy while communicating. This can be done by inculcating empathy, respect, sensitivity and attentive listening in one’s dialogue and understanding the psyche of the audience.
When it comes to creating change, a person must possess effective communication skills to succeed in their efforts. This is because without the transmission of information about the ‘what’, ‘why’ and ‘how’ of their goals, it will be impossible to gain genuine public support in their initiative.
For example, if ‘xyz’ is a changemaker who wants to ensure adequate water supply to the residents of a colony with the assistance of local authorities who have been neglecting their needs, they must first effectively communicate. This communication should elucidate why the authorities must take urgent action and how it will help improve the residents’ lives.
In doing so, ‘xyz’ must maintain diplomacy to ensure that the authorities give effect to their suggestion/request. Otherwise, the authorities might end up ignoring ‘xyz’ and hence, the residents’ needs would remain unmet. This example illustrates how diplomacy combined with effective communication is the key to change-making.
It was such change-making skills and methods that Week 4 of YAH-India’s School Changemakers’ Programme dealt with; along with delving deep into how an ordinary individual can become a driver of social change. Themed “Creating Change: Breaking Barriers”, the module apprised the young minds of the path to follow to become a successful changemaker. Simultaneously, it busted several myths related to change-making through the means of fun activities and an informative case study.