Heather Havrilesky, R. Nicholas Burns, writer, biographer and journalist on Getting Along

Heather Havrilesky

“I am almost opposed to diplomacy in interpersonal relationships, at least in intimate relationships, because when people treat each other like countries treat each other, it seems transactional. It’s not just about showing up and showing off. Everything good in my life comes from being extremely honest and straightforward. You say things that sometimes disturb or frighten people, and you hear things that perhaps make you question yourself and force you to grow. Many people who don’t want honesty are more rigid, less direct, more afraid of deep relationships. The pressures of the past few years have changed people, and I think the stress has made some people more defensive and angry and scared. We need honesty, coupled with vulnerability.

Havrilesky is a comedian and memoirist. She writes the Substack advice column Ask Polly.

R. Nicholas Burns

“On 9/11, I was a brand new US Ambassador to NATO in Brussels. As I was watching this horrific carnage on CNN, my phone started ringing, and it was the Canadian Ambassador. Then all the European ambassadors called over the next few hours, and their message was basically, We are with you. It was, frankly, an intensely emotional experience to feel this genuine support. Here in Beijing, China is, I think, the strongest rival we’ve ever had in our history, and we’re going to have to do two things: we’re going to have to compete to protect our economy, our military, and technological interests; but we must also avoid a war. At best, we compete effectively, but we’re also able to work with China on existential global issues, like climate change.

Burns is the United States Ambassador to the People’s Republic of China.

Dolly Alderton

“Diplomacy is hugely underrated. My [millennial] generation is so rightly attached to this idea of ​​authenticity, but I don’t think this should be done at the expense of the feelings, the politeness, the relevance, the professionalism of others. I am also very aware that I am conditioned as a woman to be as accommodating as possible with everyone around me and to put others at ease at the expense of my own desires or identity. But there has to be a balance. There is a world where you can speak your truth and be an outspoken ally to the right groups while being diplomatic. There are times when you have to exercise uncensored vision with fury and urgency, but I don’t think that’s required of a person every moment of their day.

Alderton is a writer and podcast host. His novel all i know about love is now a TV series on the BBC and Peacock.

Jon Meacham

“As Lincoln said, ‘People act out of incitement.’ If you want your will to prevail, you have two choices: try to crush the other regardless of the rules or their long-term benefit; or you put yourself in their shoes, try to figure out what they want, and diplomacy becomes the means by which you try to bend the world to your ends Democracy and diplomacy both require empathy because both require competing parties to feel that the context gives them a fair chance at prevail. If you want total war, you have a state of nature; if you want civilization, you have the ability to compromise. We live in an hour in America where the machinery of political opinion and action that faces the public is fundamentally undiplomatic.

Meacham is a Pulitzer Prize-winning biographer. His latest book, And There Was Light: Abraham Lincoln and the American Struggle, releases October 18.

Terrell Starr

“Diplomacy requires emotional intelligence and maturity. But we live in a world where we don’t operate on plurality, where everyone can exist equally. Everything is hierarchical. People can only criticize things they understand. look how much [less] the money we spend on the State Department versus the Pentagon. Consider the emphasis on language acquisition. There are too many Americans who can’t speak a second language, who don’t know how to communicate with the rest of the world. I’m no hawk, but I’m no dove. I think if you have to fight, you have to fight. But I think we fight too much, and I think it’s about misunderstanding the world. If you don’t understand something, you are afraid of it.

Starr is a senior fellow at the Atlantic Council’s Eurasia Center, host of the black diplomats podcast and a journalist.

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