Community & Government

Navigating Personalities

The interpersonal skills required for diplomacy go beyond relationship-building. In this lesson, the secretaries share stories of dealing with challenging global figures and offer tips for what to do when you are offended or caught off guard.

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Topics include: Thinking on Your Feet


[MUSIC PLAYING] CONDOLEEZZA RICE: Madeleine, we've both dealt with Vladimir Putin, somebody who was difficult under the best of circumstances, although I think earlier in his time, I always said that he seemed to be almost a little bit shy. And eventually, he became arrogant and megalomaniacal, but it took a while. I know that I understood, going in, that he felt a sense of humiliation. I knew that respect was important to him. But I also knew that he could be one tough customer. And I know you dealt with him as well. - I don't know when you first met him, but I met him-- it was, like, '97, and there was an APEC meeting. And he had just kind have been made prime minister. During that meeting, he was trying to ingratiate himself with President Clinton. There was no question about it. Then of course, I started reading about him a lot more, and various things that we had to do. And what happened with me was, we were going to have a summit with Putin in 2000. And I had gone to help prepare that. And it was very clear that Putin knew what he was going to talk about and how he was going to behave. So we go, and I have to tell a story that precedes this. When there was the 50th anniversary of NATO, we had some tough discussions, again, about what NATO should be doing. But then we all went into the green room, that "all" being President Clinton, Bill Cohen, who was the Secretary of Defense, and I. And we sit on a sofa. And I don't know who started it, but we did "hear no evil, see no evil" monkeys. We looked like crazy people. And it ended up in Time magazine. So I, afterwards, went out and I bought three monkey pins. I got to be known about my pins. And so I don't know what made me do this, but I decided that I would wear the monkey pins when we were having this summit with Putin. So as we walk in, I hear President Putin say to President Clinton, we always notice what pins Secretary Albright wears. Why are you wearing those monkeys? And I actually said, because I think your policy in Chechnya is evil. And President Clinton looks at me like, are you out of your mind? You're the chief diplomat and you just screwed up the summit. What is interesting is that Putin is a very serious and hardworking person. And in the summit itself, he took notes when Clinton spoke, but he didn't have notes of his own. Then he was trying to be friendly with Clinton. And he knew that Clinton liked jazz and saxophone, so they put on a concert. And President Clinton could never sit still with music. And Putin is sitting there ramrod straight. He doesn't have any rhythm. But he's a very smart and very difficult person, I think. And we see that now. - One thing that happens with relationships-- and this happens in real life too-- is relationships change over time. Sometimes, they change for the better. Sometimes, they change for the worse. And the relationship with Putin changed for the worse over time. When we first met him-- and b...

About the Instructor

Madeleine Albright and Condoleezza Rice stood toe to toe with dictators, counseled presidents, and managed to find common ground on issues that still polarize us today. Sit down with two legendary secretaries of state as they reveal how to build bridges, hold boundaries, and apply history’s lessons to everyday challenges. The class presents an intimate portrait of the late Dr. Albright’s legacy for the next generation.

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Madeleine Albright & Condoleezza Rice

Former Secretaries of State Madeleine Albright and Condoleezza Rice teach you to settle differences in everyday life like a diplomat.

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