the contextual life

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Books to Work By: How to Win Friends and Influence People

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How to Win FriendsWorking in an office is a learned skill, even for those who are good with people—and even for those who work in a room full of friends. While general etiquette and being pleasant go a long way, it’s always worth seeing what can be fine tuned. However, doing so requires self-awareness and a willingness to change.

One classic in the self-help business genre—and an excellent place to start—is Dale Carnegie’s How to Win Friends and Influence People. The cover of the “special anniversary edition” boasts that it’s the best book of its kind—and I’m not so sure they’re wrong.

How to Win Friends and Influence People is broken down into four parts: Fundamental Techniques in Handling People; Six Ways to Make People Like You; How to Win People to Your Way of Thinking; and Be a Leader: How to Change People Without Giving Offense or Arousing Resentment

Within each of these larger sections are smaller, more targeted chapters, each featuring anecdotes and quotes from important leaders’ lives as well as from Carnegie’s own personal experience—first as a salesman, then as a public speaker.

In the first chapter, “If You Want to Gather Honey, Don’t Kick Over the Beehive,” Carnegie sets the tone for the remaining 230 pages:

Do you know someone who you would like to change and regulate and improve? Good! That is fine. I am all in favor of it. But why not begin on yourself? From a purely selfish standpoint, that is a lot more profitable than trying to improve others—yes, and a lot less dangerous. ‘Don’t complain about the snow on your neighbor’s roof, ‘ said Confucius, ‘when your own doorstep is unclean.’

Carnegie is not stingy; forehead-slapping comments such as these are found on nearly every page. It’s these simple statements, these basic ways of being with others that we all learned in grammar school but forgot, that make How to Win Friends invaluable.

Quoting Henry Ford, Carnegie shares another important principle: “If there is any one secret of success, it lies in the ability to get the other person’s point of view and see things from that person’s angle as well as from your own.” And from Alfred Adler, a Viennese psychologist: “It is the individual who is not interested in his fellow men who has the greatest difficulties in life and provides the greatest injury to others.” And, of course, what advice book would be complete without Benjamin Franklin?: “If you argue and rankle and contradict, you may achieve a victory sometimes; but it will be an empty victory because you will never get your opponent’s good will.”

Each chapter ends with a distilled principle, reinforcing the lessons one should have learned from the previous pages: Give honest and sincere appreciation; Be a good listener; If you are wrong, admit it quickly and emphatically; Let the other person do a great deal of the talking; and, for those in a leadership position, make the fault seem easy to correct.

How to Win Friends and Influence People will make you think about your behavior, both within the office and without. Soon, you’ll find that those rough edges smoothed.

Buy How to Win Friends and Influence People from your local bookstore

Written by Gabrielle

June 11, 2013 at 6:52 am

2 Responses

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  1. We are starting to read this at work


    June 13, 2013 at 8:31 am

    • if i were in HR–or the head of a company–i’d give it to every new employee.


      June 13, 2013 at 10:22 am

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