52 Books a Year: #33 - How to Win Friends & Influence People

Posted by Brian Sun, 13 Dec 2009 20:38:26 GMT

How to Win Friends & Influence People
By Dale Carnegie


I can be quite abrasive at times. I am well aware of this and, while I try to limit it to some extent, I consider it to be much better than being falsely nice. My boss felt that my lack of tact could use some help so he suggested I read How to Win Friends & Influence People by Dale Carnegie. Written in the 1930’s, it is considered a classic and pretty much launched the modern self-help genre. Dale Carnegie’s style is very simple, perhaps to appeal to the widest possible audience. The edition I read also keeps most of the 1930’s slang and examples, which gives the book a certain charm.

The content can basically be broken down to three pieces of advice: be sincere, be nice, and be a good listener. The majority of the book simply goes over techniques to achieve these goals, with the overarching theme being that people are really interested in themselves. The techniques usually involve ways of using this to your advantage, such as by leading someone on so that they make take the final step towards an idea themselves, letting them think that they reached the conclusion without coercion.

My big complaint is how simplified the examples are. There is not a single example in the book where the techniques he outlines do not immediately work. Not a single example shows the shortcomings of his methods. He acknowledges that his methods do not work on all people and in all situations, but it would be nice to see this in action. In the end I don’t see myself using too many of his techniques directly. These methods have been co-opted as corporate speak in modern society to the point of being disgusting to me. I guess I could be little nicer about bitching others out for their incompetence though.


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