Imagine you are at a debate on a controversial topic. One of the speakers presents her case straightforwardly and with conviction; there is no doubting her stance on the issue. At the same time, you are struck by how politely and tactfully she addresses this divisive topic. Is there a single word that might describe such a combination of traits?

closed as too broad by anongoodnurse, phenry, Drew, tchrist, andy256 Dec 9 '14 at 9:32

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  • These are two different qualities. It's kind of like asking for a single word for someone who is courageous and humble. Why must it be one word? – anongoodnurse Dec 8 '14 at 9:06
  • 2
    I think Aplomb might be the closest to what you are asking for. 'She debated the controversial issue with great aplomb.' – Joe Dark Dec 8 '14 at 9:24
  • @JoeDark Yes, 'aplomb' indicates that she did it with self confident assurance. It doesn't actually mean 'with conviction', nor does it directly imply 'tactfulness', but I am sure that to do both of those at the same time, one would need to demonstrate 'aplomb'. – WS2 Dec 8 '14 at 9:38
  • @medica I think this combination of qualities is rare, but not mutually exclusive. Perhaps I could dial "conviction" back to "certainty" and "tactfully" back to "respectfully". – Austin Mohr Dec 8 '14 at 16:08

This is what psychologists call assertiveness. Here's how wiki starts its entry:

Assertiveness is the quality of being self-assured and confident without being aggressive. In the field of psychology and psychotherapy, it is a learnable skill and mode of communication.

However, not all general-purpose dictionaries are up to date and seem to define assertiveness in an opposite way. Here's what The Free Dictionary says:

Inclined to bold or confident assertion; aggressively self-assured.

Merriam-Webster is sort of treading a middle course:

[D]isposed to or characterized by bold or confident statements and behavior

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