8) How To Win Friends and Influence People

By: Dale Carnegie

Date Finished: 03.26.12

By Dale Carnegie

“The principles taught in this book will work only when they come from the heart.  I am not advocating a bag of tricks.  I am talking about a new way of life.”

This book is definitely outside my reading comfort zone, or really my interest zone.  However, my boss suggested that I read it and I’ve always found the title intriguing, so why not?  Actually, I wasn’t won over until I learned the book had originally been published in 1937 (although I’m not so sure about the copy I read — Stevie Wonder was used as an example when his heyday came after Carnegie passed away.  Perhaps Carnegie was a time traveler or seer, in which case this book is not so different from the ones I usually read).  I don’t put much stock in the run of the mill self-help book, but this one’s pushing a century and still widely acknowledged.  Seems like it has earned some attention.

The book reads very easily, without confusing or dry scientific jargon.  Some of the references required me to extract memories from my U.S. History classes, but Carnegie does an excellent job of giving context where needed, despite being very close to some of the events.  Perspective, that’s what this man has in spades.  Carnegie uses a variety of examples expertly, providing the right amount of backstory and highlighting the appropriate passages to support his ideas; any English prof would be proud.  Most of the principles are presented as stories — a smart arrangement of historical accounts, testimonies from everyday businessmen, and Carnegie’s personal experiences.  The stories keep the book from becoming preachy and illustrate the points more clearly, much to the reader’s benefit.

In a nutshell, the premise of the book is slow down and treat people with the utmost respect.  It gives suggestions on how to cultivate a positive and productive attitude.  By exuding appreciation and showing a genuine curiosity in the other person’s interests, your interactions at work and at home will become smoother.  This book does not advocate passivity or blind acceptance in any way, but it maintains that you can accomplish more when you eliminate antagonism.

Certainly the right man wrote this book.  Carnegie approaches the subject with a childlike enthusiasm, as though he is still surprised that the principles work.  In many ways, it feels as though he is writing to himself and no one else.  This particular kind of humility makes his ideas easy to accept, which coincidentally is one of the themes of the book.  Hmmm…

At the end of the day:  I can dig it

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