Self-improvement has been somewhat on my mind of late – as it often is, in fact. So, despite the fact that I have a load of books on my shelf still to read (not to mention the scores of unread books I have back in Britain), I bought this famous self-help manual a little while ago.
Dale Carnegie explains in his introduction how the book evolved out of course literature for the enormously successful public speaking seminar he began running in 1912. It was also written to fill a gap in the market – there were no other books like this at the time. The fact that How to Win Friends and Influence People is still selling well (enough to be stocked in the limited English language sections of Korean bookstores) over seventy years after its publication is a testament to the strength of the adivce it contains.
And it does indeed contain a lot of strong, simple, sensible advice. One theme that Carnegie returns to several times is the idea of avoiding criticism and conflict and instead using praise and encouragment. The advice ranges from ideas like trying to empathise with the other person’s point of view and making them feel as your idea is theirs, to the utterly simple smile.
The book is full of little stories that add into Carnegie’s message. For instance, he recounts how Lincoln, as a young man, used to write critical anonymous letters to a newspaper. After one particularly excoriating missive, the person on the receiving end of the criticism discovered the author’s identity and challenged him to a duel. The duel never happened, but, according to Carnegie, Lincoln never once criticised anyone after that. (Carnegie was also a biographer of Lincoln and Theodore Roosevelt.)
Reading the book straight through, as one would read a novel, is less than ideal, as the advice quickly becomes repetitive. Even the interesting anecdotes and digressions begin to pall. Nevertheless, the advice remains well worth keeping in mind at all times. Easier said than done.
Below is a list of all the principles of winning friends and influencing people in the book.
Part One: Fundamental Techniques in Handling People
Principle 1: Don’t criticize, condemn or complain.
Principle 2: Give honest and sincere appreciation.
Principle 3: Arouse in the other person an eager want.
Part Two: Six Ways to Make People Like You
Principle 1: Become genuinely interested in other people.
Principle 2: Smile.
Principle 3: Remember that a person’s name is to that person the sweetest and most important sound in any language.
Principle 4: Be a good listener. Encourage others to talk about themselves.
Principle 5: Talk in terms of the other person’s interests.
Principle 6: Make the other person feel important – and do it sincerely.
Part Three: How to Win People to Your Way of Thinking
Principle 1: The only way to get the best of an argument is to avoid it.
Principle 2: Show respect for the other person’s opinions. Never say, “You’re wrong.”
Principle 3: If you are wrong, admit it quickly and emphatically.
Principle 4: Begin in a friendly way.
Principle 5: Get the other person saying “yes, yes” immediately.
Principle 6: Let the other person do a great deal fo the talking.
Principle 7: Let the other person feel that the idea is his or hers.
Principle 8: Try honestly to see things from the other person’s point of view.
Principle 9: Be sympathetic with the other person’s ideas and desires.
Principle 10: Appeal to the nobler motives.
Principle 11: Dramatize your ideas.
Principle 12: Throw down a challenge.
Part Four: Be a Leader: How to Change People Without Giving Offense or Arousing Resentment.
Principle 1: Begin with praise and honest appreciation.
Principle 2: Call attention to people’s mistakes indirectly.
Principle 3: Talk about your own mistakes before criticizing the other person.
Principle 4: Ask questions instead of giving direct orders.
Principle 5: Let the other person save face.
Principle 6: Praise the slightest improvement and praise every improvement. Be “hearty in your approbation and lavish in your praise.”
Principle 7: Give the other person a fine reputation to live up to.
Principle 8: Use encouragement. Make the fault seem easy to correct.
Principle 9: Make the other person happy about doing the thing you suggest.
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