Writing diplomatically: Managing potential conflict

BARRY TOMALIN

The aim of this paper is to assess the role of emotional language and neutral language in the preparation and production of formal official documents. The paper explores the model offered by the United Nations in two references of diplomatic writing, The United Nations Editorial Manual and the United Nations Correspondence Manual. The example selected, from many that could be chosen, is that of Arabic- speaking diplomatic students responding in writing to a simulated political incident that could lead to conflict. The discussion examines the importance of emotional intelligence in managing one’s own feelings and hence the language one uses. It also offers a methodology teachers can use in helping students become aware of emotive usage in reading passages and in their own writing and how to manage it. The conclusion stresses the importance of avoiding emotive language in official correspondence and finding ways of substituting it with more neutral words and expressions to achieve balance.

KEYWORDS: Arabic, linguistics, UN, diplomacy, conflict management, tweetplomacy, emotional intelligence, critical awareness

BARRY TOMALIN. Joint Managing Editor of Training, Language and Culture and a board member of ICC. Regular reviewer for TLC and a specialist in international communication, cultures, soft power and media. Founder and facilitator of the ICC-recognised Business Cultural Trainers Certificate. Teaches at Glasgow Caledonian University London, the Academy of Diplomacy and International Governance at Loughborough University, and International House London. Author and co-author of a number of books on international business culture, including World Business Cultures – A Handbook and Cross-Cultural Communication: Theory and Practice.

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