#1 How to win friends and Influence People

I’m not sure if this will work out, but I have decided to give it a go; challenge myself to read 52 books within the next year. Focussing on leadership, management, and general business-related topics. Because I find these most interesting.

As, I will most need some book suggestions later on and, would like to discuss some topics I read about. I’ve decided to make a summary of each book I read and publish this on the internet. Along with this summary, I will provide my opinion on the concepts presented.

The Summary

To communicate with people in a meaningful way. According to Dale Carnegie, it boils down to showing genuine interest in the people you interact with. “How To Win Friends And Influence People“ is about leadership skills mixed with lessons on how to become a more likeable figure in the office.

The book written over 80 years ago is one of the best-selling books of all time and, one of the most influential according to Time’s magazine. It has 4 major chapters:

  1. Fundamental Techniques in Handling People
  2. Six Ways to Make People Like You
  3. Twelve Ways to Win People to Your Way of Thinking
  4. Be a Leader: How to Change People Without Giving Offence or Arousing Resentment

The book describes some major concepts in these chapters. Foremost, Dale recommends readers to be understanding and forgiving;

“Any fool can criticize, condemn and complain—and most fools do. But it takes character and self-control to be understanding and forgiving.”

Criticizing people is a sure way of creating resentment and hurting other people. Another important concept: Assume people are not “creatures of logic” but rather people who are motivated by “pride and vanity”

The key teaching in the book related to influencing people (read: Win people to your way of thinking) is to make them believe a certain concept or idea is their own. To do this –“the secret to success”– is to understand the desires of other people. To understand the other person’s point of view. Success is guaranteed; when combining this with the concept of talking to people about what THEY want (instead of what YOU want) and providing them opportunities to fulfil this desire

My Opinion

The book was written in the 1930s, which is difficult to say at least. Some concepts provided in the book are explained using examples of people who were very important and well known in the ’30s but are unknown to me. It also took some time getting used to the examples given about generals in the war. As Carnegie often liked to use examples from the first world war.

The book compiles some interesting concepts; after reading, perhaps most of these concepts are well-known and common knowledge. Still, I think the book deserves some praise for combining all these somewhat obvious concepts in a book and providing interesting examples to strengthen the importance of the information provided.

Lifehacker.com published an article about this book discussing the “dark side” of ideas provided. I do somewhat agree with some points in this article. Once you put away your “positivity glasses” some advice in the book is manipulative. Lifehacker uses an example provided in chapter 7 from Part 3 (How to get cooperation) to strengthen this:

Letting the other person feel that the idea is his or hers not only works in business and politics, it works in family life as well. Paul M. Davis of Tulsa, Oklahoma, told his class how he applied this principle:

“My family and I enjoyed one of the most interesting sightseeing vacation trips we have ever taken. I had long dreamed of visiting such historic sites as the Civil War battlefield in Gettysburg, Independence Hall in Philadelphia, and our nation’s capital. Valley Forge, James-town and the restored colonial village of Williamsburg were high on the list of things I wanted to see.

“In March my wife, Nancy, mentioned that she had ideas for our summer vacation which included a tour of the western states, visiting points of interest in New Mexico, Arizona, California and Nevada. She had wanted to make this trip for several years. But we couldn’t obviously make both trips.

“Our daughter, Anne, had just completed a course in U.S. history in junior high school and had become very interested in the events that had shaped our country’s growth. I asked her how she would like to visit the places she had learned about on our next vacation. She said she would love to. “Two evenings later as we sat around the dinner table, Nancy announced that if we all agreed, the summer’s vacation would be to the eastern states, that it would he a great trip for Anne and thrilling for all of us. We all concurred.”

To summarise; Paul M. Davis used his daughter to trick his wife into going to the eastern US states; something Paul wanted. This example, together with some other examples provided in the book is somewhat manipulative. 

Regardless of the above criticism, it is a book worth reading to refresh some of these concepts and allow you to incorporate some of these in your life. 

Whats Next?

The next book I’m reading is “Crucial Conversations: tools For Talking When Stakes Are High” which claims to revolutionise the way millions of people communicate when the stakes are high.

I hope you’ve liked this summary and my opinion. What do you think of this book? Do you agree with the criticism? Please let me know in the comments. If you have any suggestions for any books to read after I’ve finished the next book, let me know!

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