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Diplomacy in the Foreign Service: An Overview

Info: 1631 words (7 pages) Essay
Published: 18th Mar 2021 in Politics

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When prompted about the term diplomacy, most people can’t seem to coherently explain, nonetheless understand the role of a diplomat. If they have any recollection of one its most likely from a Hollywood portrayal of some swanky government official at a fancy foreign party. However Hollywood can’t paint a perfect picture at least in this case as a diplomats profession is far more dynamic. Although the correct term is FSO (Foreign Service Officer), a diplomat or FSO, in short terms is to manage peace and international relations between countries. Being a truly global career, some of the primary functions a diplomat has are to build and improve relations with a foreign host country. They also work to resolve disagreements between home and host countries and negotiate solutions to political and social differences. Working as a Foreign Service Officer, representing the Department of State, provides a challenging integration of analysis and initiative, the opportunity to adapt culturally to connect with others, and the possibility to demonstrate motivation and experience gained. All the same, the amount of travel required could create problems in the future.

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Those working in the Foreign Service Offices often use analysis and initiative which helps provide a stronger understanding of information and a motivation to learn and challenge themselves.“When hiring Foreign Service Officers, the Department of State looks for motivated individuals with sound judgment and leadership abilities who can retain their composure in times of great stress or dire situations, like a military coup or a major environmental disaster. Those who wish to succeed in the Foreign Service must be motivated, enjoy a good challenge, and possess an ardent dedication to public service”(U.S. Department of State). The need for a clear understanding of career specifics within this role can push one to understand, acknowledge, and take responsibility for assignments that need to be taken care of. It helps individuals to persist in the execution of a job; to significantly influence a group’s campaign and or management. As well as motivating others to participate in the activity being lead. The job requires absorbing complex information, fully retaining it, drawing from various sources to collect reasoned conclusions from both the analysis and overall synthesis of information. On top of constantly evaluating the significance, accuracy, and authenticity of information; to remember any number of specific details without keeping or recording notes. According to the State Department’s webpage, “they face many situations in their careers as Officers which require quick and intelligent thinking under stress. They develop and use a wide range of skills, from managing resources, conducting public outreach, and assisting those in distress”(US State Department). Some specific key skills include discretion and confidentiality within diplomacy, reporting concise and cohesive information to many and few. Both modern and traditional technological experiences and training, in computer programs or updated mechanization.

Adapting to changing situations, cultures and countries takes more than just fortitude to properly represent America while working abroad. Cultural adaptability in one’s career can help them communicate effectively and harmoniously in various environments. Working and communicating effectively and harmoniously with persons of value systems, political beliefs, other cultures, and even economic situations can open one's mind to the world around them. According to Baktybek Beshimov, a seasoned professor at Northeastern University, “being a diplomat is a unique and wonderful opportunity to understand different cultures along with the complexity of life in other nations” (qtd. By Beshimov) Being able to view the world from various perspectives and points of view is an integral skill to learn to work in foreign service. This cultural adaptability prowess comes from an awareness of differences between peoples. Which can empower one to work through tough occupational challenges and find the most rewarding outcome. Learning to adapt to situations depending on the cultural environment can bring people together and strengthen a team. Recognizing and respecting differences in new and different cultural environments broadens the horizons between peoples making for better communication, integration, and relationships. Having an in-depth knowledge of both the history and local culture while working abroad is essential in communicating and supporting the United States most effectively.

A career in the Foreign Service is a global vocation and in turn requires candidates to be readily available worldwide, to meet any and all needs required of them. In many ways, experience from former jobs and current ones can help one to establish responsibility and credibility to lead efficiently and help those in their field. Demonstrating knowledge and skills among other attributes from previous relevant experience can help one to develop and articulate a pertinent motivation for joining the Foreign Service. Though it’s not a prerequisite, a bachelor’s degree as well as work experience in various fields, and travel overseas are usual attributes of an FSO candidate.  Even within the biographic information section of the Foreign Service Officer Test, it provides a self-assessment of the candidates’ prior work, education, and job-relevant life experiences, highlighting attributes such as the way they resolve conflicts, interact with others, adapt to other cultures and set priorities (FSOT). This shows that past experiences can help clear a path to this chosen career field and prepare individuals for the road ahead. Although a multitude of factors are considered when under consideration for this career, some of the most important things are continually developed within the job and work assigned as a Foreign Service Officer.

To many working in Foreign Service appears intriguing and attractive. A suave life overseas with some type of immunity and acclaim? What with worldwide travel, government-paid housing, generous pay, and benefits often included. Yet there is much more to it than meets the eye. Even with the multitude of benefits, working as a Foreign Service Officer is taxing, unpredictable, and sometimes even perilous. Relocation within this profession can be especially straining on families and relationships as transfers are recurring and or challenging. During an interview with John Negroponte, a former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations and U.S. ambassador to Iraq, he states that “if you are married and both members of the couple have professional careers, there are stresses and strains that are caused by moving every couple of years in and out of the countries. The transfers that take place, usually in intervals of two, three or at most four years, can be a problem for families”(par. 6). Both growing up in an internationalist family and raising one while acting as a United States Ambassador, he had complete credibility while shedding light on the complications families have within a Foreign Service Career. There is also conflict that arises for individuals with families, for example, if you were assigned to an unaccompanied post family members may not be able to go with you.

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Be that as it may, diplomacy would mean working with people from all walks of life, all around the world. Being able to see where they come from and what life is like in places outlying America. Working as a Foreign Service Officer can open many doors in both one’s professional and personal career by broadening one’s knowledge and occupational skill. For some it may be a more difficult profession when it comes to raising a family in a foreign nation. Just the same every occupation has its trials, difficulties and obstacles. Yet, embodying one to be more open to many existing worlds of culture, promoting and adding to professional experience, even with some problems and complications down the road, can make the job significantly desirable, acclaimed, and influential.


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