How to Win Friends and Influence People

^z 24th March 2024 at 6:26am

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 note.

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:

  • Fundamental Techniques in Handling People
    • Don't criticize, condemn or complain.
    • Give honest and sincere appreciation.
    • Arouse in the other person an eager want.
  • Six Ways to Make People Like You
    • Become genuinely interested in other people.
    • Smile.
    • Remember that a person's name is to that person the sweetest and most important sound in any language.
    • Be a good listener. Encourage others to talk about themselves.
    • Talk in terms of the other person's interests.
    • Make the other person feel important — and do it sincerely.
  • Win People to Your Way of Thinking
    • The only way to get the best of an argument is to avoid it.
    • Show respect for the other person's opinions. Never say, "You're wrong."
    • If you are wrong, admit it quickly and emphatically.
    • Begin in a friendly way.
    • Get the other person saying "yes, yes" immediately.
    • Let the other person do a great deal of the talking.
    • Let the other person feel that the idea is his or hers.
    • Try honestly to see things from the other person's point of view.
    • Be sympathetic with the other person's ideas and desires.
    • Appeal to the nobler motives.
    • Dramatize your ideas.
    • Throw down a challenge.
  • Be a Leader — A leader's job often includes changing your people's attitudes and behavior. Some suggestions to accomplish this:
    • Begin with praise and honest appreciation.
    • Call attention to people's mistakes indirectly.
    • Talk about your own mistakes before criticizing the other person.
    • Ask questions instead of giving direct orders
    • Let the other person save face.
    • Praise the slightest improvement and praise every improvement. Be "hearty in your approbation and lavish in your praise."
    • Give the other person a fine reputation to live up to.
    • Use encouragement. Make the fault seem easy to correct.
    • Make the other person happy about doing the thing you suggest.

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!

(cf. Optimist Creed (1999-04-16), What Is My Life? (1999-04-30), Personal Energy (2000-12-08), Dear Diary (2001-03-19), Bennett on Life (2000-03-19), ...) - ^z - 2008-05-17

(correlates: PositiveAndNegativeChoice, Comments on ToThePain, Suboptimism, ...)