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How to Win Friends & Influence People by Dale Carnegie – Do Unto Others As You Would Have Them Do Unto You

August 21, 2011

This grandfather of all people-skills books was first published in 1937. It was an overnight hit, eventually selling 15 million copies. How to Win Friends and Influence People is just as useful today as it was when it was first published, because Dale Carnegie had an understanding of human nature that will never be outdated. Financial success, Carnegie believed, is due 15 percent to professional knowledge and 85 percent to the ability to express ideas, to assume leadership, and to arouse enthusiasm among people. He teaches these skills through underlying principles of dealing with people so that they feel important and appreciated. He also emphasizes fundamental techniques for handling people without making them feel manipulated. Carnegie says you can make someone want to do what you want them to by seeing the situation from the other persons point of view and arousing in the other person an eager want. You learn how to make people like you, win people over to your way of thinking, and change people without causing offense or arousing resentment. For instance, let the other person feel that the idea is his or hers, and talk about your own mistakes before criticizing the other person. Carnegie illustrates his points with anecdotes of historical figures, leaders of the business world, and everyday folks. –Joan Price

The Art Of Human Relations
I am at the end of one of the best books I have read, and I can’t help but write of it. `How To Win Friends and Influence People’ is a classic self improvement/management book with total sales of a staggering 15 million.

It is important to quickly note that the name makes it out to be far more Machiavellian that it is. The suggestions of the book would not be out of place in the sermon of the mount.

The author, Dale Carnegie, was born into poverty in Missouri towards the end of the 19th century. He was a young farmer turned salesman, salesman turned actor, and actor turned lecturer. He observed, at a still young age, that no universities of his era offered courses on public speaking or interpersonal relations. These two topics became his obsession. With his assistant he researched perhaps a thousand books (include over one hundred biographies of Abraham Lincoln.) He weaseled interviews with an extraordinary array of successful businessmen and politicians. He refined and he revised. And somehow, quoting everyone from Woodrow Wilson to Rockefeller, he produced an instant classic.

The result is a most counterintuitive book. I expected a book encouraging brash, domineering, overconfident behavior, and the careful machinations of such politics. Carnegie discovered the opposite. He suggested that praise trumps criticism and that humility beats bravado. The best way to get someone to do something is to for them to find joy in doing it.

The secret of influence is:

Do not criticize, condemn or complain. Give regular and sincere appreciation. Become interested in the lives of the people around you and become a good listener. Talk about the other person’s interests and in some way make them feel genuinely important. Smile, and remember that a person’s name is to them the sweetest sound in any language. Avoid arguments, respect the opinion of others and admit mistakes quickly and emphatically. Attempt often to see through the other’s point of view. Arouse noble motivations in the other person. Convince people that your ideas are indeed theirs, and persuade through dramatisation. Correct the perceived faults indirectly, beginning and ending with praise, and with questions that allow the saving of face. Praise improvements and give them a reputation to live up to, making them indeed happy to make the changes that you desire.

It all sounds rather idealistic. Rather unlike the Henry Ford style popular at the time. The appeal to noble virtues seems vaguely religious. The question that I continue to ask is, does such high mindedness actually work?

Two recent books would agree. Dan Pink’s `Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us’ suggests that financial incentives can in many cases reduce performance. Most employees are motivated primarily by a desire for independence, mastery, praise and a higher purpose.

Jim Collins in the brilliant text, `Good to Great,’ suggests that successful CEO’s combine `personal humility with professional will’.

I have completed little study on management theory and management research. So I am ready to stand corrected. But it would seem that a consensus exists that the way to manage is to `do under others as you would have them do unto you.’ How unexpected.

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How to Win Friends & Influence People by Dale Carnegie


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