Book Review : "How to Win Friends and Influence People"

On the suggestion of a colleague, I read the book "How to Win Friends and Influence People" by Dale Carnegie. I had to swallow my pride and tread through the self-help section of the bookstore to find it (all the while thinking "I am such a loser to buy a book on how to make friends"), but it was worth the effort. The book is laid out as a set of lessons on how to build relationships, get folks to agree with you, and lead people without resentment. In large part, these are lessons in humility. Although this may often be mistaken for being whipped, humbling ourselves before others can often lead to gaining their trust, and ultimately their loyalty.

This book was originally written in the 1930's, and some of the language is telling of the books age. The points made are solid, and although they are often "no-duh" type comments, they are nonetheless excellent points to review from time to time. Most of the examples in the book relate to selling and salesmanship, but they are equally applicable to anyone else that deals with people in their day(and who doesn't?) As you read through the book, the examples given to reenforce the tips given are somewhat idealistic and utopian. Most examples lead to the person being promoted to president, making millions, or becoming the exceedingly famous. While such outcomes cannot be expected in all cases, I feel that anyone could expect to improve their social interactions in at least some small part through the practice of these suggestions.

Listed below are the main points made within the book.

Part One
Fundamental Techniques in Handling People

1. Don't criticize, condemn or complain.
2. Give honest and sincere appreciation.
3. Arouse in the other person an eager want.

Part Two
Six ways to make people like you

1. Become genuinely interested in other people.
2. Smile.
3. Remember that a person's name is to that person the sweetest and most important sound in any language.
4. Be a good listener. Encourage others to talk about themselves.
5. Talk in terms of the other person's interests.
6. Make the other person feel important - and do it sincerely.

Part Three
Win people to your way of thinking

1. The only way to get the best of an argument is to avoid it.
2. Show respect for the other person's opinions. Never say, "You're wrong."
3. If you are wrong, admit it quickly and emphatically.
4. Begin in a friendly way.
5. Get the other person saying "yes, yes" immediately.
6. Let the other person do a great deal of the talking.
7. Let the other person feel that the idea is his or hers.
8. Try honestly to see things from the other person's point of view.
9. Be sympathetic with the other person's ideas and desires.
10. Appeal to the nobler motives.
11. Dramatize your ideas.
12. Throw down a challenge.

Part Four
Be a Leader: How to Change People Without Giving Offense or Arousing Resentment
A leader's job often includes changing your people's attitudes and behavior. Some suggestions to accomplish this:

1. Begin with praise and honest appreciation.
2. Call attention to people's mistakes indirectly.
3. Talk about your own mistakes before criticizing the other person.
4. Ask questions instead of giving direct orders.
5. Let the other person save face.
6. Praise the slightest improvement and praise every improvement. Be "hearty in your approbation and lavish in your praise."
7. Give the other person a fine reputation to live up to.
8. Use encouragement. Make the fault seem easy to correct.
9. Make the other person happy about doing the thing you suggest.

I would highly recommend that anyone take the time to at least skim the book (perhaps the next time you are at Barnes & Noble).


Jade Mason