Vice President Cheney, upon his return from a visit to former Soviet Bloc nations, during which he criticized Russian President Putin in unusually direct, if correct, terms, found himself suffering from shortness of breath. Hesitant about consulting a doctor immediately, he performed a self-diagnosis and realized that his condition was due primarily to putting his foot in his mouth with alarming frequency.
Knowing the tenuous disposition of his cardiovascular system, he determined to remedy his verbal dereliction and signed up for a course at Dale Carnegie, where he expected to learn How To Win Friends And Influence People.
At his first class, however, he found himself unable to listen calmly to his lecturer and began to dispute with him. Taken aback, the professor explained that his statements were not based on his own beliefs but consisted entirely of the time-honored teachings of Dale Carnegie.
The Vice President was not assuaged, and announced, “You’re just not living in the real world. Let me show you how it really is.”
With that, he ambled to the blackboard and began to revise the statements the teacher had written there. Fortunately, a member of our staff, who always accompanies the Vice President when he thinks a story may be in the making, had accompanied him.
Here are selections from his notes on Mr. Cheney’s revisions of Carnegie’s teachings. For ease of comparison, we present the original Carnegie categories and principles, immediately followed by the Cheney update.
1. Fundamental Techniques in Handling People
Carnegie: Don’t criticize, condemn, or complain.
Cheney: Easy fix. Just erase the word “Don’t.”
Carnegie: Give honest and sincere appreciation.
Cheney: Another easy fix. Let’s add back the word “Don’t.”
2. Ways To Make People Like You
Cheney: Honest people hardly ever smile; hypocrites do.
Carnegie: Make the other person feel important – and do it sincerely.
Cheney: What other person? I’m the most important person in the room, even when I’m talking to the President.
3. Win People To Your Way Of Thinking
Carnegie: Show respect for the other person’s opinions. Never say, “You’re wrong.”
Cheney: Why? Since I’m the Vice President, the other person is always wrong.
Carnegie: Begin in a friendly way.
Cheney: Again, why – when you’re about to tell the person something that’s not friendly?
Carnegie: Get the other person saying “yes, yes,” immediately.
Cheney: Here we agree.
Carnegie: Try honestly to see things from the other person’s point of view.
Cheney: What for, if he’s wrong to begin with?
Carnegie: Throw down a challenge.
Cheney: Now we’re talking.
4. Be a Leader: How to Change People Without Giving Offense or Arousing Resentment
Carnegie: Call attention to people’s mistakes indirectly.
Cheney: Mind if I just erase the first syllable of the last word?
Carnegie: Talk about your own mistakes before criticizing the other person.
Cheney: If I made mistakes, I wouldn’t be the Vice President.
Carnegie: Make the other person happy about doing the thing you suggest.
Cheney: OK, that’s why I’m here. Tell me how. Then maybe I can relax.
The teacher, gasping from his own shortness of breath, uttered, “I have no idea.”
“Then, if you don’t mind, I’ll excuse myself. As a Vice Presidential courtesy, I won’t charge for the updates.”