9.Making People Glad to Do What You Want
Back in 1915, America was aghast. For more than a year, the nations of Europe had
been slaughtering one another on a scale never before dreamed of in all the bloody
annals of mankind. Could peace be brought about? No one knew. But Woodrow
Wilson was determined to try. He would send a personal representative, a peace
emissary, to counsel with the warlords of Europe.
William Jennings Bryan, secretary of state, Bryan, the peace advocate, longed to go. He
saw a chance to perform a great service and make his name immortal. But Wilson
appointed another man, his intimate friend and advisor Colonel Edward M. House;
and it was House’s thorny task to break the unwelcome news to Bryan without giving
“Bryan was distinctly disappointed when he heard I was to go to Europe as the peace
emissary,” Colonel House records in his diary. “He said he had planned to do this
himself . . .
"I replied that the President thought it would be unwise for anyone to do this officially,
and that his going would attract a great deal of attention and people would wonder why he
was there . . ."
You see the intimation? House practically told Bryan that he was too important for the
job - and Bryan was satisfied.
Colonel House, adroit, experienced in the ways of the world, was following one of the
important rules of human relations: Always make the other person happy about doing the
thing you suggest.
Woodrow Wilson followed that policy even when inviting William Gibbs McAdoo to
become a member of his cabinet. That was the highest honor he could confer upon
anyone, and yet Wilson extended the invitation in such a way as to make McAdoo feel
doubly important. Here is the story in McAdoo's own words: “He [Wilson] said that he
was making up his cabinet and that he would be very glad if I would accept a place in