Diplomacy is the art and practice of building and maintaining relationships and conducting negotiations with people using tact and mutual respect. U.S. diplomats use the skills and tools of diplomacy to protect and promote U.S. security, prosperity, and democratic values and shape an international environment in which all Americans can thrive. Diplomacy skills complement national, state, and district outcomes dedicated to preparing students for success in the 21st century.

The nine skills of diplomacy fall into three different categories: informational, relational, and operational. Learn about these different skills and explore examples of each below. 

Skills of diplomacy graphic

Informational Skills

Informational skills are required to determine how to approach a situation.


Analysis is the ability to study and think critically about situations. 


Awareness is the ability to respect different cultures and customs. Diplomats with the awareness skill recognize when situations and circumstances are changing and adapt to meet that change. Awareness is also being aware of what you do not know or understand and knowing how your behavior affects others. 


Communication is the ability to articulate your position and listen openly to others’ viewpoints. Determine where interests overlap. Those with communication skills can also confirm positions and use clear and appropriate language to avoid misunderstandings.

Relational Skills

Relational skills are what is required to work successfully with others.


Leadership is the ability to make decisions using what information is available. Leaders keep the big picture in mind and take steps to fill gaps in knowledge and understanding.


Collaboration is the ability to incorporate the ideas of others and find common ground. Collaborating involves taking cues from others when formulating responses and making proposals. 


Composure is the ability to work with others in a professional manner and calmly deal with the range of attitudes and behaviors exhibited by counterparts, difficult partners, and adversaries.

Operational Skills

Operational skills are what is required to take action.


Management is the ability to use the skills and strengths of team members. Know what tools and resources are available to help meet goals.


Innovation is the ability to formulate alternatives and be flexible in responses to unanticipated circumstances.


Advocacy is the ability to speak on behalf of and pursue the goals and mission. Speak up for those who are not in a position to advocate for themselves.

You and the Skills of Diplomacy

These skills are practiced and acquired over a lifetime of practice. You may find that you already practice some of these skills in your day-to-day life. Do you talk through differences with your roommates about cleaning common areas? Do you keep a level head in tense conversations with classmates with whom you may disagree? What other ways have you practiced diplomacy?

Diplomacy is a practice that is not reserved just for ambassadors. Everyone has the ability to engage in this art form, especially through the 9 skills of diplomacy.

Explore Stories of Diplomacy Skills in Action