What Do Diplomats Need to Do Their Job?

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U.S. diplomats use various resources to best represent and advance the interests of the United States. At the National Museum of American Diplomacy, we describe these resources as the “tools of diplomacy.” Tools of diplomacy can be categorized as carrots and sticks, or incentives and disincentives.

Learn more about what is in the diplomat’s toolbox and how diplomats use these tools.

The tools of diplomacy mentioned in this video are:

  • Communication
  • Meetings
  • Trade and investment
  • Military cooperation
  • Assistance and aid
  • Exchange programs
  • Travel
  • Formal agreement


tools of diplomacy graphic

Discussion Questions 

Use the following discussion questions to guide your classroom conversations about this video. Refer to the timestamps to find the answers to these questions.

  1. What is the main objective of diplomats’ work? (0:10 – 0:15)
  2. Describe some of the ways diplomats use communication in their work. (1:10 – 1:33)
  3. What types of meetings do diplomats arrange or take part in? (2:05 – 2:10)
  4. How are trade and investment used by diplomats to meet their goals? (3:00 – 3:32)
  5. Why is it beneficial for people to be able to travel freely between countries? (5:24 – 5:55)
  6. What are some formal agreements that the United States has with other countries? (5:57 – 6:16)
  7. Identify the tools of diplomacy used by diplomats.
  8. What is one thing you learned from the video that you found interesting, surprising, or confusing?
  9. Summarize what you learned about how diplomats do their job.

Video Vocabulary

The following terms are referenced in this video. 

  • Ultimate – The most important thing out of a group.
  • Contexts – A specific space or environment.
  • Negotiate – To reach a common goal through discussion.
  • Favorable – To someone or something’s advantage.
  • Cooperation – Working together to help one another.
  • Adversaries – A person, group, or force that opposes or attacks you.
  • Interaction – Shared action among two or more people.
  • Accords – Official agreements or treaties.
  • Democratic – Refers to a system in which power is vested in the people.