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Interpersonal approaches to relationship building: diplomat as a human agent of public diplomacy

Abstract

In extant literature, it has been advised that the central purpose of public diplomacy should be redefined as relationship management. Against this backdrop, the effects of engagement efforts made to build and nurture relationships has been contested. On one hand, relationship management is presented as an approach to promote mutual understanding while, on the other, research studies show that diplomatic agencies remain focused on advocacy and that foreign publics are unwilling to engage. As public relations research has identified the positive effects of using interpersonal approaches to build and nurture relationships, this study conducted a case analysis on the engagement efforts made by a diplomat to build relationships. It was found that relationships were built with multiple publics both locally and globally and that offline relationships preceded online relationships. In relating to foreign publics, relational capabilities, including relational continuation, relational attentiveness, relational curiosity, and relational empathy, were portrayed. Although shared values and interactions were promoted, foreign publics were only invited to engage on soft topics, such as cultural and social issues.

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Correspondence to Lisa Tam.

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Tam, L. Interpersonal approaches to relationship building: diplomat as a human agent of public diplomacy. Place Brand Public Dipl 15, 134–142 (2019). https://doi.org/10.1057/s41254-018-0101-2

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Keywords

  • Diplomat
  • Engagement
  • Interpersonal
  • Public diplomacy
  • Relationship
  • Social media