Thursday, June 10, 2010

Book Review - How to Win Friends and Influence People

How to Win Friends and Influence People

Author: Dale Carnegie

ISBN: 978-1-4391-6734-2

By: Simon & Schuster

Copyright 1936 Dale Carnegie


How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie is half anecdotal comedy and half self-help book. The layout is simple and easy to follow. The author outlines a method of dealing with a person or a situation. He then proceeds to explain the reasoning behind the idea. Next he gives 5-6 testimonials from his students who have told him stories where they have utilized the concept that he is teaching. The style is very easy to read and to follow.

This book was written at a time when the prevailing philosophy in business was fire and brimstone from the top down. The author wanted to find a comprehensive book or course on effective ways of communicating with people, getting them to like you, and ultimately doing business with you. He discovered that none such book or course existed, and he set out to find a set of rules to follow to do so. He interviewed a large number of successful business people, and took an in depth look at his own life and personality. He discovered many truths, each of which is the basis for a chapter of the book:

Techniques for handling People:

1. Don’t criticize, condemn or complain.

2. Give honest and sincere appreciation.

3. Arouse in the other person an eager want.

Ways to make people like you:

1. Become genuinely interested in other people.

2. Smile.

3. Remember that a person’s name is to that person the sweetest and most important sound in any language.

4. Be a good listener. Encourage others to talk about themselves.

5. Talk in terms of the other person’s interests.

6. Make the other person feel important—and do it sincerely.

Ways to win people to your way of thinking:

1. The only way to get the best of an argument is to avoid it.

2. Show respect for the other person’s opinions. Never say, “You’re wrong.”

3. If you are wrong, admit it quickly and emphatically.

4. Begin in a friendly way.

5. Get the other person saying “yes, yes” immediately.

6. Let the other person feel that the idea is his or hers.

7. Try honestly to see things from the other person’s point of view.

8. Be sympathetic with the other person’s ideas and desires.

9. Appeal to the nobler motives.

10. Dramatize your ideas.

11. Throw down a challenge.

Be a leader – A leader’s job often includes changing your people’s attitudes and behavior.

1. Begin with praise and honest appreciation.

2. Call attention to people’s mistakes indirectly.

3. Talk about your own mistakes before criticizing the other person.

4. Ask questions instead of giving direct orders.

5. Let the other person save face.

6. Praise the slightest improvement and praise every improvement. Be “hearty in your approbation and lavish in your praise.”

7. Give the other person a fine reputation to live up to.

8. Use encouragement. Make the fault seem easy to correct.

9. Make the other person happy about doing the thing you suggest.

Many of these ideas seem like common sense to us now. However, when you honestly read this book, and evaluate your own life and personality, the ideas, while simple, can be very eye opening. This new type of dealing with people is very effective and really boils down to the old golden rule. Treat others how you would like to be treated. If you give to other people everything that you would want, people will become friendly with you. Let them talk about themselves and their problems, and even if they don’t realize it, they will find you interesting.

The Relevance

This book is very relevant to the business world today. Even though many more people are much more aware of the right and wrong way to deal with people, it is often a failed proposition for many people. Even if they understand the right way to deal with people, they fail to implement it. In a job market which is saturated with talent, one of the keys to standing out in interviews as well as on the job is through interpersonal skills. If you can get an interviewer to like you straight off you stand to gain a much better chance of securing the job, the raise, or the promotion. Having these skills can help you to secure a significant other, keep one, or have a happier relationship. It does not seem surprising that the secret to winning friends and influencing people is appealing to people’s egos by making them feel important, appreciated, and significant.

Where Carnegie Falls Short:

The biggest problem with Carnegie’s work is the age. While this may have been a pioneering work of his time, many of the illustrations and slang that he uses are dated. The message behind what he is saying is still very relevant, however, it is abundantly clear that this was written in the thirties. In fact many of the things that he observes are now business norms. Perhaps that is a testament to the longevity and importance of his work, but to someone currently involved in business, some of the ideas are now accepted as common practice. Otherwise, the book achieves its goal, and despite these shortcomings, there are some very illuminating ideas, and important concepts which he drives home with ease.

Where Carnegie Excels:

What surprised me the most about the novel is that after my first few reading sessions, I already found myself implementing many of the ideas that I had just read about. It was tough at the beginning, because my gut reaction to many situations was to fly off the handle and become very angry with the person who had just wronged me. However Carnegie helped me realize that while that would make me feel better, it would make the other person feel bad. Generally in situations like that you still need something from the person who you are angry with, and becoming angry or threatening will not bring them any closer to helping you than it did previously. I have learned a lot not just from the Principals (listed above), but also the anecdotes (however antiquated) that go with them.

My Recommendations and Closing Thoughts:

This book is incredibly important to read for any modern American. I think if more people attempted to live by the principals that it espouses, we would have a much more genial society. People who are looking for success would do well to heed the advice that this book offers. I would recommend this book as a blueprint for anyone who is teaching or studying leadership.

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