When a book is attributed as an influence by famous and infamous people, and continues to sell this well, we can assume, that there is something to it. But how can a book this ancient be relevant today? Carnegie tries to answer the age-old question of human interaction: how can I get the other person to do what I want?
“How to make friends…” is written as a workbook with four major topics (basic techniques, how to make people like you, convincing people, be a leader), each one presented as a series of short lectures. At a glance, the lessons are simplistic, and always iterating on the central themes: make other people feel important, understood and respected. If you look closer, however, then you see that this is all you actually need. Find out what your counterpart wants and needs to feel good, then give it to them and they will reciprocate. People like to create their own narratives, and you will win them by giving them the opportunity to be the hero of the story. This is the fundamental trick to improve all your human interactions, that stays valid in the digital age, maybe even more. As communication around us gets quicker, rougher and less personal, you can get a great advantage by pausing to take the perspective of the other and understand their motives.
The brilliantly simple message is only one half the reason for the book’s fame. “How to make friends…” is also great from a didactic perspective. The author dedicates an entire chapter as manual to use the book with detailed instructions to get the most out of it. The topics and lessons themselves follow a natural sequence, forming the big picture piece by piece and, more importantly, are illustrated with good examples. These include everyday instructions how to follow the principles (and how to neglect them), and paragraph-by-paragraph reviews one ”incorrect” and one “correct” letter with detailed description of the emotional impact of each line. So not only did Carnegie include great advice in his book, he also took care to make the it easy to grasp for the reader, actually applying the principles he teaches.
This book will teach you the fundamental knowledge to improve your social interactions in all situations. If you have to make people see your point, whether you’re a leader, a salesperson, a politician or an entrepreneur, this book can help you. Actually, if you ever have to deal with people on a personal or professional level, read this.
I greatly enjoyed it.
- Treat others as you would want to be treated
- Have a genuine interest in other people
- Find out what people want, and give it to them
Dale Carnegie may be dead, but his successors recently updated the book for the digital age and offer the Dale Carnegie training courses in communication, leadership and positive thinking.
Simon & Schuster, revised edition (November 3rd 2009), first edition 1936, first revised edition 1981, english