Re-visiting a classic: “How to Win Friends & Influence People” by Dale Carnegie

Anyone who’s read Dale Carnegie’s “How to Win Friends and Influence People” may be surprised to learn that the book was written almost a century ago. It was first published in 1936 and has since sold over 15 million copies.

Not many (if any) books that are 100 years old resonate today with the same fresh notes as this publication.  The obvious reason, of course, is that it touches on a timeless topic— how to build long-lasting bridges to other people.

When I read the book, I found it to be very practical, intuitive and real-life driven. But I didn’t quite get too many “wow-I-didn’t-know-that” revelations. 

What makes the book unique and outstanding, though, is that it teaches us how to take simple advice as “be honest, don’t criticize, smile” and turn it from nice-to-have unconscious behaviour into deliberate and targeted winning strategy to influence others.

We all need to learn how to better connect with the world and develop “people intuition,” Dale Carnegie believes–otherwise, we will be at a serious disadvantage in life. Learning to find common grounds with all stripes of people will, in turn, win us more friends. 

There are two concepts are of grave importance to anyone’s success, the book claims—networking and the ability to negotiate (i.e. to make others see our point of view). And we are given some great tips on how to do this on a conscious level—even with people that we don’t like that much but are of importance in our lives, such as our managers, for instance.

Yet, the book doesn’t lack criticism. A quick review on Goodreads portrays its content as “used-car-salesmanshippy,” “waste of time,” “enforcing faux sincerity and false positivity.”

An interesting question to the “critics” then is: what’s the alternative advice on how to gain more friends and make our voice heard in the crowd? What harm can come from being polite and attentive—and if we can do it sincerely, then…isn’t this simply priceless.

To me, “How to Win Friends and Influence People” is a well-written classic for self-improvement—for anyone who wants to progress their own circumstances and better their lives (which is pretty much everyone!).

It gives us some interesting ways of looking at people and  our relationships with them. It teaches us to how change our thinking hats and be more accepting of others—of their weaknesses, flaws and imperfections.

And after all—wouldn’t we, in return, want to be treated nicely, to feel accepted and appreciated by our friends, peers and acquaintances? 


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