One of the most integral departments in most Gameplay regions is the office responsible for Foreign Affairs, whether that be managed by an individual or by a collective. How the leadership for such a department is decided depends on the region; it may be an election where individual(s) run on public platforms stating their goals, or it may be a Delegate/leadership appointment based on personal preference or compatibility with their own objectives. How the selection occurs is less relevant to the success of that office than the actual capabilities of the person in question.
The most important aspects of a successful tenure in the area of foreign affairs are the abilities to cooperate with other regions, to maintain respect among their peers, and to keep a professional stance on public matters no matter the situation. It is the responsibility of these individuals to represent the desires of their home region to the wider public. What is essential to be able to interact with people is an enjoyment of interaction. Communication due to obligation is not something that is enjoyable to either party. A good foreign affairs official will be able to maintain the aforementioned qualities and communicate professionally even with people or regions that are not particularly favorable to their own region.
Foreign affairs is conducted most successfully by two types of individuals: The calm, professional people who can maintain a smooth demeanor and keep the respect of most through this style, or those who can socialize and earn the respect and friendliness of even regions and members thereof that are not friendly towards their own home region. Professionalism and congeniality are both dominant forces in a department that depends largely on refinement of public perception. When the job of a person is to represent their region in a manner that does not raise hostilities, both qualities are excellent.
Perfect professionalism is an achievement that few people can manage without flaw, though it is certainly possible. To be perceived as worthy of respect by all and thus regarded as such is far more difficult than the second path to a successful tenure in foreign affairs: the ability to socialize successfully and win friends through creating a pleasant front for one’s region. Socialization should in theory not be a deciding force in creating the public opinion of one’s region, but it makes a massive difference in practice regardless of the fact that diplomatic talent should not depend on how known an individual happens to be. The key to maximizing the effectiveness of these tactics involves making oneself a trustworthy and credible individual through charisma, honesty, and competence alike. Both are powerful allies if used correctly. Honesty in this situation does not, of course, mean every question with answers that fall into the classified category.
Charisma is a trait that can be natural or can be projected, but a true friendly nature is more efficient than a projected front. People who do not need to force themselves to communicate with others make for very effective foreign affairs officials. Foreign affairs is a public office, and should be treated as such. This will mean interaction with many regions, friendly and unfriendly alike. If one can achieve charisma and professionalism combined, the personal reputation of a region may be drastically improved. To be that person, one must cultivate trustworthiness as well as a sociable face. Without the ability to convey earnest sincerity, a charismatic approach is wasted.
Even that can be undone by regionmates who convey another attitude entirely. The greatest enemy to public relations is a regionmate in a high position or with high influence either internally or externally that contradict the message one wishes to send in regards to a regional direction. Coordinating an earnest response is most effective when one is able to direct their regionmates in public stages. Suppressing internal opinions for the sake of external image is not advisable, as a region cannot be truly administered by subduing every opinion counter to one’s own goals. It is nonetheless entirely possible to keep those contained and in suitable areas rather than on the world stage where they can cause problems.
An appealing deportment can change the approach of regions to one another in many situations, though not all. Nurturing friendships with other regions can be a powerful ally, and has resulted in the mending of relations between those who have divided over previous issues. Personal connections between officials in two regions can lead to the creation of alliances that had not hitherto existed, or had previously been demolished by scandal or personal differences. While politics should not be determined by social influence, as many argue, it is nonetheless a prevailing force in a text-based political simulator directed by words and the impact they may have on an audience. Possessing a wide network of support and amiability builds relations, while being belligerent and antagonistic weakens bonds between allies and lessens opportunities to develop further alliances.
Credibility is everything in foreign affairs. Credibility is best displayed through a presence that can make people believe that they are sincere. This generally should require actually being genuine, however. Sincerity is a trait that is necessary for charisma to make a real impact. An approachable but untrustworthy source will have less impact on others than someone who speaks with honest intent. Presentation must be backed up by truth. No amount of friends or social skills can make efforts worthwhile if there is no basis of trust in place. No true alliance is constructed from prettily worded lies, grandiose promises, and masked intent.
The social skills that create bonds must be backed by confidence, should always be conveyed in a professional manner, and are most effective when they are built on relations forged in authenticity to be truly effective. Some manage to keep afloat on networks of friends alone, but to achieve a truly beneficial relationship, a common goal and a mutual friendliness are the best foundation in those situations. Relations built for the sake of relations to embellish one’s reputation internally and improve chances of reappointment or reelection will rarely ever produce something of lasting value.
Relations built to exploit the resources of others will also rarely produce valuable results long-term, as even friendships can sour over time if there is no reciprocation of support. As a foreign affairs official, ensuring that there is a mutually beneficial relationship should be the real priority to prevent erosion of integrity. The preservation of a region’s reputation is most powerfully reflected by the performances of the primary leadership position and the foreign affairs official, both of whom are typically the guiding forces in a region’s direction and the determining factor for how their region is perceived at the time.
Not every elected or appointed leader will be a benevolent influence on every relation built. In this situation it falls to the foreign affairs leadership to mitigate the effects of that leader on their allies and critics alike. In the situation where the foreign affairs official serves as the problematic force, it falls to the regional leadership to mitigate the words and work of that official. Public relations depends so strongly on perception that there is prodigious value in having an entity in government that can soften the impact of a negative public influence on the foreign perception of one’s region.
Public relations and foreign affairs go hand-in-hand, which is why when regions, organizations, and alliances part, there is almost always an effort to portray one’s side in the best possible light to avoid criticism on their role in the division. The best public relations influences are those who have widespread sway and large networks in the absence of an entity who has built a reputation that is unassailable even when they lack a system of contacts and instead have a foundation which exists because of widespread respect and regard after a career of successful diplomacy and rhetoric. If one lacks the latter, having numerous friends provides a base that will speak in support of an individual in situations of tension with other entities. The wider the public support, the more it seems to individuals who are less informed that their side is the correct side.
Numerous friends and a resilient social network are infinitely more common and more readily obtainable forces than a robust reputation and displays of near-flawless competence that can evade lasting attacks or criticisms. Cultivation of reliability, magnetism, and professional conduct are the greatest allies a foreign affairs individual can possess during their tenure. This is not to say that mistakes can never be made, as those are simple human traits that nobody can truly avoid. It merely means that one can forge a reputation and attain skills that allow them to navigate out of the worst fallout of that situation and recover what was lost in an errant moment.
No-one will ever be perfect in either of these skills. Both of them are simply tools of success in a difficult position where every word uttered can be taken out of context without the appropriate level of caution. Foreign affairs is one of the most difficult positions when any number of mistakes can be made and any and every unfriendly entity will be focused on eroding that integrity and impact one seeks to present to the public. If one can manage to stand strong in the face of that hostility and continue to project the demeanor that will successfully maintain one’s reputation where it matters most, they will have achieved the highest level of success there is.
Negotiating a treaty is more common than people seem to think, and exchanging embassies with everyone in sight is an even simpler matter. Maintaining relations with allies can be more difficult but is also not overly difficult if there is a strong basis for an existing relationship between said regions. The protection and building of a strong regional presence through networks and excellent personal conduct are the aspects that are the most challenging. This requires a precise balance of skills, though the presentations of those skills may vary. Not every successful foreign affairs official needs to build a network of support externally, and not every foreign affairs official needs to have flawless negotiation skills when they do have a powerful external support network. Every person in foreign affairs has a unique set of talents that led to their election/appointment and they should be used in a way that betters their region.
Far and away, in all of these cases, the most vital necessity for this position is the willingness to interact with other people not of one’s region. Without a disposition towards communication and a general enjoyment attained through those relationships, there is no point in ever being a part of foreign affairs. The position itself depends entirely on what one achieves in and with the external world, not on their internal impact or popularity. Success should be measured more by the good they have done for their region on the international stage by the conclusion of their tenure than by what they have done to impress their regionmates and build their own resume. All in all, foreign affairs is best left in the hands of those who genuinely enjoy foreign interaction and are willing to maintain a pleasant face even in the face of hostile treatment.