LEARNING THE ART OF BEING TACTFUL
Peggy noticed her son speaking cruelly to his younger brother. "
Do you think that was the best way to talk to your brother?" Why did she say that? She was trying to teach her son the art
of acting tactfully and showing consideration for the feelings of others.
What is tact? How can you improve in this area? And how can you help others to develop the art?
WHAT IS TACT?
A dictionary defines tact as "the ability to appreciate the delicacy of a situation and to do or say the kindest
or most fitting thing." The word originally referred to touch. Just as sensitive fingers can perceive if something is sticky,
soft, polished, hot, or hairy, so a tactful person can sense the feelings of other people and can discern how his words or
actions affect them. But doing this is not just a skill; it involves a genuine desire to avoid hurting others.
When a person is overly concerned with the importance of his job, he can easily fail to recognize or care
about the needs of those he deals with. He is much like the proverbial bus driver who was so concerned with arriving on time
that he did not stop to pick up passengers.
To avoid being tactless, we should strive to be kind to people, for we do not know how they really feel. We
should always be alert to signs that reveal a person's feelings and respond with a kind word or act.
HOW TO IMPROVE YOUR TACTFUL SKILLS:
* UNDERSTANDING THE FEELING OF OTHERS: Analyze the signs that indicate the feelings of those
you meet. Is the person timid, skeptical, annoyed, or busy? What would be the kindest way to help him? Parents can also assist
their children who may tactlessly have offended one another. Help each one to understand the feelings of the other. Does he
feel insulted, ignored, or misunderstood? How could kindness make him feel better?
Parents do well to help their children to cultivate compassion, since this is what will move them to act tactfully.
Peggy,s son, mentioned at the outset, noticed his younger brothers flushed face, pouting lips, and tearful eyes, and he recognized
the pain his brother was experiencing. Just as his mother had hoped, he felt regret and resolved to change.
· SHOW THAT YOU UNDERSTAND: Tact is especially
important when you have a complaint against someone. You can so easily hurt his dignity. Specific commendation is always appropriate
first. Rather than criticize him, concentrate on the problem. Explain how his action affects you and exactly what you would
like to see changed. Then be prepared to listen. Perhaps you have misunderstood him.
People like to feel that you understand their viewpoint even if you do not agree with it. When a person speaks of some
problem, rather than offering a solution before hearing the matter out, tactful way of showing that you understand is to repeat
the problem or complaint in your own words. This is a kind way of showing that you understand.
· RECOGNIZE WHAT NOT TO SAY; SPEECH THAT HEALS:
Learning the art of tactful speech will help you to enjoy relations with others, even when someone has misunderstood your
motives and is bitter and resentful. Try always to consider how your words will affect other people. Making the effort to
be tactful will help you experience the joy expressed in this saying "A man has rejoicing in the answer of his mouth, and
a word at its right time is O how good!"
HOW TO PROTECT YOURSELF FROM FRAUD:
You may have heard the saying, "You can't cheat an honest man." Like many sayings, that one is untrue. Every
day honest people are the victims of fraud; honesty alone doesn't protect them. Some cleverest minds in the world are devising
and carrying out schemes to separate people from their money. More than a hundred years ago, one writer noted: "There are
some frauds so well conducted, that it would be stupidity not to be deceived by them."
Deception has a long history, dating back to the early days of man on earth. Old schemes have many variations,
and new schemes are being concocted all the time. So how can you defend yourself? You need not try to learn all the ways in
which criminals defraud people. A few basic precautions will go a long way in protecting you from becoming a victim.
SAFEGUARD PERSONAL INFORMATION: If a person
steals your checkbook or credit cards, he can buy things with them. If he steals your bank account information, he may be
able to order and write checks in your name. If he obtains enough personal information, he may assume your identity. Once
your identity has been stolen, a criminal can withdraw money from your bank accounts, charge things to your credit card accounts,
and obtain loans in your name. You may even find yourself arrested for a crime you did not commit!
To protect yourself from this type of fraud, be careful with all personal documents, including your bank statements
and checkbooks, driver license, and Social Security card or national identity card. Refuse to provide personal or financial
information to others unless there is a legitimate reason why they should have it. This is especially so for credit card numbers
and bank account information. The only time you should give anyone your credit card number is when you want to buy something
Swindlers known as dumpster divers root through garbage in search of such information. Instead of simply throwing
out paperwork that contains personal data, you are wise to burn or shred it. This includes used checks and bank and brokerage
statements as well as old credit cards, driver's licenses, and passports. It is also wise to destroy unsolicited credit card
applications that you receive in the mail, since these contain information about you that someone else might misuse.
· USE COMMON SENSE: At the heart of many frauds
is the promise of unrealistically high returns from investments. A common get-rich-quick scam is the pyramid scheme. Though
there are many variation of this scam, the usual design is for investors to recruit other investors, for which the recruiters
receive a commission. Chain letters work in the same way by asking you to send money to people at the top of a list. The assurance
is that you will receive thousands of dollars when your name reaches the top.
Pyramid schemes always collapse because it is impossible to keep on recruiting new members. Consider the math. If five
people launch a pyramid and each one recruits five more, the number of new recruits becomes 25. If they, in turn, each recruit
5, that would mean 125 more. When recruitment reaches the ninth level, there will be close to two million people who would
have to recruit more than nine million others! Promoters of pyramid schemes well know that there is a saturation point. When
they suspect that point is near, they take the money and run. You will probably lose your money, and those whom you have recruited
will now be trying to recover their lost money from you. Remember, for you to make money in a pyramid scheme, someone else
has to lose money.
* BEWARE IF AN OFFER APPEARS TOO GOOD TO BE TRUE, IT USUALLY IS: Is someone
offering you easy money or huge profits in return for an investment? A cautionary warning is this: If an offer appears too
good to be true, it usually is. Don't be quick to believe advertising claims and testimonials, thinking, " This is different."
Keep in mind that people are not in business to give away money or to share secrets to make you rich. If someone claims to
have special knowledge that will make you a fortune, ask yourself: "Why doesn't he use it to make himself wealthy? Why is
he wasting time trying to sell it to me?"
What if you are told that you have won a contest or a prize? Don't get excited - it may be a scam, one that
has victimized many. For example, a woman in England received a letter from Canada telling her that she had won a prize but that she needed to send a $25 processing
fee. After sending the money, she received a phone call from Canada
telling her that she had won third prize in a drawing worth $245,000 but that she would have to pay a percentage of that amount
as a further processing fee. She sent $2,450 and received nothing in return. If you have to pay for a "free gift" or a prize,
it's a scam. Ask yourself, "How likely is it that I have won a prize in a contest that I did not enter?"
· DO BUSINESS ONLY WITH REPUTABLE PEOPLE
Do you believe that you can sense dishonesty in people? Be careful! Swindlers are called con, or confidence,
artists because they know how to win the confidence of others. They are skilled at making their victims trust them. Sellers,
both honest and dishonest, know that before you can sell a product, you have to sell yourself. Of course, this does not mean
that you should mistrust everyone, but a healthy degree of suspicion is important in defending yourself from fraud. Rather
than try to discern a person's integrity by trusting your instincts, watch for two telltale signs that characterize many frauds:
First, does an offer appear too good to be true, and second, is the seller trying to rush you into making a decision?
Too-good-to-be-true offers abound on the Internet. Though the Internet offers much of value, it also enables
criminals to defraud victims quickly and anonymously. Do you have an E-mail account? If so, you may find yourself on the receiving
end of spam - unsolicited commercial E-mail. Though spam offers an endless array of goods and services, many of these are
fraudulent. If you respond to an unsolicited E-mail by sending money for some product or service, you will probably receive
nothing in return. If you do receive something, it will almost certainly not be worth the money you have invested in it. The
best advice is, Never buy anything from a spammer.
This applies equally to those who phone to sell you something. Although many telephone sales calls are made
by legitimate businesses, telemarketing scams cheat people out of billions of dollars every year. There is no way to know
whether a sales pitch is legitimate if you simply talk with someone who calls you on the phone. A swindler may even pose as
a representative of a bank or a credit card protection agency. You have good reason to be suspicious if someone calls you
claiming to be from a bank or a company with whom you have an account and asks for information that they should already have.
If that happens, you might ask for the person's phone number. Then call back after verifying that the number really is that
of the bank or agency.
A good policy is not to give your credit card number or any other personal information to a stranger who calls
you. If someone calls to sell you something that you do not want, you can politely say, "Sorry, I do not do business over
the phone with people I do not know." Then hang up. There is no reason for you to engage in an unwanted conversation with
a stranger who may be trying to defraud you.
Deal only with reputable businesses and people. There are many legitimate companies with whom you can safely
do business over the phone or on the Internet. If possible, check out the salesperson, the company, and the investment through
some independent agency. Ask for information about the investment, and read it carefully to make sure that it is legitimate.
Do not be rushed or pressured into making a quick decision.
· PUT ALL CONTRACTS IN WRITING
Not all fraud starts out as fraud. An honest business can go sour. When that happens, those running it may
panic and resort to fraudulent measures to recover their losses. Doubtless you have heard stories of business executives who
lied about revenue and profits and then when the business collapsed ran away with what was left of the money.
To protect yourself from both fraud and misunderstandings, you should get the details in writing before making
any major investment. Any contract that you sign should document all the terms of the investment and the promises made. Recognize,
too, that no matter how sound an investment may appear, no one can guarantee that things will go as planned. After all, there
is really no such thing as a risk-free investment. Thus, an agreement should specify in writing what the duties and responsibilities
of each person will be should the business fail.
By being aware of and applying the basic principles we have briefly considered, you make yourself less vulnerable
to being a victim of fraud.
SPAM SCAMS: SIX COMMON E-MAIL SCAMS
1. PYRAMID SCHEMES: these often masquerade as opportunities to make a lot of money with little work and
cash outlay. One scheme offers you a computer or some other electronic item if you pay to join a club and then recruit other
participants. Another variation is the chain letter. Chain letters are almost always illegal. Most of those who invest in
them lose their money.
2. WORK-AT-HOME SCHEMES: In one form of this scam, you are offered
the opportunity to assemble such things as jewelry, toys, or craft kits. You invest money in the materials and time in assembling
the product, only to find that your work cannot be sold to the promoters because it does not meet their standards.
3. HEALTH AND DIET SCAMS: Flooding the internet are offers of such things as pills that help you lose weight
without exercising or dieting, cures for impotence, and creams to counter hair loss. These offers are sometimes accompanied
by testimonials from satisfied customers. Common phrases that appear in these ads include expressions such as "scientific
breakthrough," "miraculous cure," "secret formula," and "ancient ingredient." The truth is, most of these products don't work.
4. INVESTMENT OPPORTUNITIES: These schemes typically offer high rates of return with little or no risk. A common
version involves investment in an offshore bank. Investors are lured by assurance that those handling their money have high-level
financial connections and possess inside information.
5. CREDIT REPAIR: these scams offer to remove negative information from your credit file so you can
qualify for a credit card, an auto loan, or a job. Despite the assurances, promoters can't do what they promise.
6. VACATION PRIZE PROMOTIONS: You receive an E-mail congratulating you on winning a vacation opportunity for a
rock-bottom price. Some say that you have been specially selected. Keep in mind that the same notice may have gone out to
millions of others and that the accommodation you receive will offer far less than what was advertised.