Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Book Review of How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie

This is a book review of Dale Carnegie's all time international classic How to Win Friends and Influence People. It is a fairly large review with the occasional "diversion" from the topic because I feel it is appropriate for this classic book.

The original version of this book was written in 1937 with just 5,000 copies in print. It didn't take long for the word to spread around the globe about the value contained within the book for millions of copies to be printed at later dates. The book has spread like wildfire since 1937 with over 16 million copies in print. Business owners, salespersons, and generally people who are interested in better relating to their fellow human being, have constantly referred to How to Win Friends and Influence People over the years as the best book you can read on the subject.

If you're not really familiar with self-help classics, you may be wondering how the heck can books written in the early-to-mid 1900s be useful today? Surely humanity has made many more great discoveries that are far superior than this "old school" material?

I use to think the exact same thing prior to reading such books. However, there is something to do with learning about a subject from the core, the nectar, the heart of its original pioneers that makes the information so powerful. I have literally heard hundreds of people praise How to Win Friends and Influence People. Originally, I thought it was because the book was most people's introduction to communication skills. I thought, "Sure, the book is great because it's your first experience in learning the amazing effect of good communication."

What I later found, which is what many people have experienced, is that by reading the book one time every year you experience a powerful new realization. Life-changing realizations are also frequently experienced by many people when reading Napoleon Hill's Think and Grow Rich. The awareness and experience you have at the present time isn't enough to completely grasp the principles in these classic books.

After reading the 2008 edition of this book, I've come to realize that the book's four parts which deal with techniques to handle people, ways to make people like you, winning people to your way of thinking, and being a successful leader, are the fundamental skills of all human relations. I constantly teach these principles without realizing it because they are so fundamental to relationships. The very important point I'd like to distinguish here is that fundamentals are not necessarily basic skills. Fundamentals in any area form a solid framework for further skill development.

An athlete cannot become good in his or her sport by not having correct fundamentals. Sport coaches will tell you that an athlete who does not have the right fundamentals is tough to coach because every skill builds off the foundation laid by fundamental skills. Professional athletes constantly fine tune their fundamental skills because they know the profound affect such skills have on their professional abilities. Advanced techniques are only useful when the person knows the fundamentals. Also, having good fundamentals produces an exponential effect that puts you ahead of 95% of people, while advanced techniques in any area produces a slight improvement that gives you an edge of the 5% who also have sound fundamentals.

Tiger Woods can work on perfecting his 2 iron stinger where he hits the ball with a very low trajectory, while the average golfer is better off focusing on fundamentals like a better grip, stance, and pre-shot routines. However, Tiger still needs to monitor and work on these fundamentals as well. The skills taught in How to Win Friends and Influence People constantly need to be revisited and worked on regardless of how good you think you are at communicating.

At the start of each chapter, Carnegie discusses the chapter's principle. He then provides an example of how someone, mostly students from his speaking course, have applied the principle in their business or family life. The stories themselves can be a revelation at times as you become aware of how and in what situations the principles can be applied.

The majority of the book discusses concepts instead of word-for-word techniques. One principle is making the other person feel important. Dale doesn't tell you to say exactly this and that. He provides the "what," which is the concept, with a little bit of the "how."

The table of contents is below:

Fundamental Techniques in Handling People
1. 'If You Want to Gather Honey, Don't Kick Over the Beehive'
2. The Big Secret of Dealing with People
3. 'He Who Can Do This Has the Whole World with Him. He Who Cannot Walks a Lonely Way'

Six Ways to Make People Like You
1. Do This and You'll Be Welcome Anywhere
2. A Simple Way to Make a Good First Impression
3. If You Don't Do This, You Are Headed for Trouble
4. An Easy Way to Become a Good Conversationalist
5. How to Interest People
6. How to Make People Like You Instantly

Win People to Your Way of Thinking
1. You Can't Win an Argument
2. A Sure Way of Making Enemies - and How to Avoid It
3. If You're Wrong, Admit It
4. A Drop of Honey
5. The Secret of Socrates
6. The Safety Valve in Handling Complaints
7. How to Get Cooperation
8. A Formula That Will Work Wonders for You
9. What Everybody Wants
10. An Appeal That Everybody Likes
11. The Movies Do It. TV Does It. Why Don't You Do It?
12. When Nothing Else Works, Try This

Be a Leader: How to Change People Without Giving Offense or Arousing Resentment
1. If You Must Find Fault, This is the Way to Begin
2. How to Criticize - and Not Be Hated for It
3. Talk About Your Own Mistakes First
4. No One Likes to Take Orders
5. Let the Other Person Save Face
6. How to Spur People On to Success
7. Give a Dog a Good Name
8. Make the Fault Seem Easy to Correct
9. Making People Glad to Do What You Want

The principles of each part are nicely summarized at its end so you can easily review and memorize them. Overall, each principle may seem simple at times, but don't let simple deceive you into its power. These are powerful principles that are still changing the lives of those who have read the book five or more times. If you don't already have a copy of Dale Carnegie's How to Win Friends and Influence People, you need to go grab your copy now.

Joshua Uebergang aka "Tower of Power" is an Australian communication skills expert, and has more comprehensively reviewed Dale Carnegie's How to Win Friends and Influence People. You can get more relationship-enhancing, friendship-boosting, effective communication skills by visiting his site and signing up to his free newsletter to get some of the Internet's best articles on communication.

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