How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie is a classic. At least that’s what many people told me as I slogged through this tome. It’s particularly poignant to the business/sales world where apparently a lot of people don’t know how to relate to other people. The book is a compilation of lectures that Mr. Carnegie delivered at seminars he would give around the country in the 1930’s and 40’s. There are a few updates in the latest edition but those were few and far between.
The point of the book is exactly what the title says. However, unless you actually feel like people hate you or just don’t get a long with you, friends, this book isn’t for you. Before you think I struggle with this demise, this book was chosen for our book club. It wasn’t a popular choice. I’m pretty sure I’m the only one who read it.
The reason it wasn’t a big hit is because it’s so obvious. The advice he gives is hard to accept as some sort of earth-shattering new truth. This is why it boggles my mind why so many people tout it as an important book to them. Although, come to think of it, some of the business majors I knew in college would probably say this helped them relate to people. There’s something about business/sales people that sometimes makes them seem above the rest of us mere mortals. But I digress.
Most of the advice given is pretty obvious. Some of it, like don’t always be critical, find things to praise people for, or, try to understand where someone is coming from in an argument. To me these don’t seem different than what teachers teach in school about how to play well with others. Then again, a lot of what he said is taught in Education programs to prepare us to work with students. So I may be biased.
Luckily this book is short and it’s written in a very dry style. So if you have to read it for work or for a book club, it’s not terrible, but you’re going to want to read it in small doses.