The main requirements

A reporter from the internal newsletter of the United Nations Secretariat rather diffidently approached Dag Hammarskjöld in January, 1958, to interview him. It was a first. In all the years Hammarskjöld had served as secretary-general, no in-house journalist had taken the lift to the 38th floor to record a conversation. As reported in Secretariat News for February 14th of that year, the exchange was wide-ranging and engaging. Just at the end, a question so compelled Hammarskjöld’s interest that he returned to it a few days later in a private letter to a trusted Swedish friend. You’ll find below both the interview and Hammarskjöld’s later comment. No texts more compactly and richly convey his practice of diplomacy.
Reporter: One last question, Mr. Hammarskjöld: What, in your opinion, are the main qualities that an international official should possess?

DH: Well, that is a difficult question to answer straight away. You should give me a little while to think about it. First off, however, I would say that a heightened awareness combined with an inner quiet are among these qualities. Also, a certain humility, which helps you to see things through the other person’s eye, to reconstruct his case, without losing yourself, without being a chameleon, if you see what I mean. Take men like Flaubert and Malraux, whom I mentioned before. They force you to see with their eyes, but also to exercise your own mind.
(Secretariat News, 14 February 1958, 3–4)

A little later, Hammarskjöld revisited the question in a private letter:

The other day I was forced by a journalist to try to formulate my views on the main requirements of somebody who wishes to contribute to the development of peace and reason. I found no better formulation than this: "He must push his awareness to the utmost limit without losing his inner quiet, he must be able to see with the eyes of the others from within their personality without losing his own." (DH letter to the author and 1974 Nobel Laureate, Eyvind Johnson, 31 January 1958, Hammarskjöld Collection, Swedish National Library)