In 1936 Dale Carnegie wrote a charming book of common-sense advice, How to Win Friends & Influence People. It's far from original; Arnold Bennett and other authors anticipated it by decades (cf. Readings on Thinking and Living, 2001-10-01). Nonetheless, Carnegie brings a delightful American enthusiasm to the challenge of explaining everyday human psychology. Recently I read an updated (1981) "Special Anniversary Edition"; some tidbits follow.
From Part One, Chapter 1:
John Wannamaker, founder of the stores that bear his name, once confessed: "I learned thirty years ago that it is foolish to scold. I have enough trouble overcoming my own limitations without fretting over the fact that God has not seen fit to distribute evenly the gift of intelligence."
... and later in the same chapter:
Do you know someone you would like to change and regulate and improve? Good! That is fine. I am all in favor of it. But why not begin on yourself? From a purely selfish standpoint, that is a lot more profitable than trying to improve others — yes, and a lot less dangerous. ...
In Part One, Chapter 3, a thoughtful sign-off to a sample of business correspondence:
You are busy. Please don't trouble to answer this letter.
And in Part Three, Chapter 3, a form letter that an author (Elbert Hubbard) would reportedly send to irate readers:
Come to think it over, I don't entirely agree with it myself. Not everything I wrote yesterday appeals to me today. I am glad to learn what you think on the subject. The next time you are in the neighborhood you must visit us and we'll get this subject threshed out for all time. So here is a handclasp over the miles, and I am, Yours Sincerely, ...
Throughout his book Dale Carnegie tries to practice what he preaches. Rather than arguing his points, he tries to illustrate how to interact more productively with other individuals. He summarizes the chapters in a useful list:
Great literature? Not even close. Much of How to Win Friends & Influence People is repetitive and clumsily written. But there's also plenty of obvious yet oft-ignored wisdom in Carnegie's book — more than enough for me to work on, on myself!