Tag Archives: self-help

How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie

How to Win Friends & Influence People by Dale Carnegie: In general, I do not read self-help books. I find them preachy and uninspiring. This book, however, was highly recommended by a blogger whose post convinced me to give it a shot. I’m glad I did. Though the principles are probably common sense (motivate through praise rather than criticism, listen without interrupting, smile, make the other person feel important, etc.), I believe it did me some good to hear them all laid out in such a straightforward manner. Everybody else on the planet is just as self-absorbed as I am, and they care far more about what they want than what I want. Each chapter began with a principle, described it a little in general, then listed anecdote after anecdote about the principle in action. Most telling to me was the repeated assurance that these techniques only work if the feeling behind them in genuine, not manipulative. People can see through flattery.

This book was first published in 1936, and we certainly have not become a more genteel society since then. I wonder what Carnegie would think of the internet and its trolls. For much of the book I could imagine people hearing the advice and thinking, “Yes! This is how other people should treat me!” But of course that’s not the point. The point is that if you treat other people this way, you will benefit. Sometimes this will be through convincing people to come around to your way of thinking, but more often just by spreading good will. Had this book been written a few decades later, I’m sure karma would have been mentioned more than once.

Though a couple of the techniques described might come off as passive-aggressive today, by and large it’s a good resource – a good reminder for how to deal with other people, to give and receive criticism gracefully, and generally improve your attitude. I hereby recommend it to everyone on the planet. In return, I will attempt to practice its principles in my own life more often. I can’t promise I’ll always be successful – three decades of acerbity do not disappear overnight, after all – but I can try.

Also posted on BookCrossing.

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