How To Win Friends And Influence People
Category: handling people
This is undoubtedly one of the great classics of personal development, one of the first in the field.
Before I get into why it’s so good, I should tell you what it’s about.
The title is pretty self-explanatory. These are fundamental techniques in handling people of all walks of life and good guidelines to live by.
Dale Carnegie was one of the first non-spiritual self-development gurus out there. (By the way, I hate the term self-help. You’re not helping yourself, you’re growing yourself. The former implies there’s something wrong with you). He ran seminars and wrote books on the subject.
The book itself is divided into chapters, each of which deals with different techniques, such as “Don’t criticize, condemn, or complain” or “If you are wrong, admit it quickly and emphatically.” EVERY one of these rules has multiple examples, either taken from history or from Dale Carnegie’s experiences with people.
A lot of these laws have to do with the business world, but not all. Some are also taken from peoples’ personal lives.
Now most people love this book for two reasons:
- It provides the basics of handling people.
- It makes them feel good.
The first reason is definitely true.
But there’s more to the second point.
I have to admit when I first read this book it made me feel great, too. I didn’t feel like I was trying to manipulate people but simply influence them.
But now I realize that it’s basically the same thing.
To illustrate my point: I’m currently reading the 48 Laws of Power by Robert Greene (don’t worry, a review will be coming soon), which a lot of people find controversial. The language is direct and preaches that one has to be ruthless in the game of power. A lot of people see it as the polar opposite of How to Win Friends and Influence People.
I disagree. They seem different on the outside, but the message is the same.
The 48 Laws is basically the R-rated version of How to Win Friends. Look at some of the things they talk about: One rule in the latter is to “Talk in terms of the other person’s interests.” One of the 48 Laws is “When asking for help, appeal to people’s self-interest, never to their mercy or gratitude.” Very similar message, very different package.
I will say that the 48 Laws makes life out to be heartless and bleak whereas How to Win Friends is the family-friendly version.
Granted, there are some other differences that I won’t mention here. You’ll have to find out for yourself.
All in all, you should read both.
Back to How to Win Friends and Influence People, I do very much like Dale Carnegie’s advice. It is especially relevant to the professional setting.
Another thing: the title is slightly misleading. You might win acquaintances, but you won’t win true friends. In my experience, true friendship comes through expressing yourself and having a good vibe with another self-expressing person.
But plenty of situations arise in life where you have to know how to simply win acquaintances, or how to charm your way through a situation. In these cases, this book comes in handy.
You could also apply these techniques out of just being a better person: For example just remembering people’s names or smiling.
“Remember, we all crave recognition and appreciation and will do almost anything to get it. But nobody wants insincerity. Nobody wants flattery.”
A must-read for anyone who doesn’t live under a rock and has to actually interact with human beings.