Tuesday, November 14, 2006

How to Win Friends and Influence People - Dale Carnegie

The Basics: How to Win Friends and Influence People, Dale Carnegie, 1936, 276 pages, paperback.

How I found it: I bought some cereal because it advertised on the box that you could get a free book. From the selection they had available, this was my choice. I figured that I needed this sort of information since I am going to work in the field of law. Or something...

What's it about?: This is a self help book about how to deal with other people. It is separated into sections with names like: "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". At the end of each chapter is the "principle" you are meant to take out of it. These are things like: "Call attention to people's mistakes indirectly" and "Talk in terms of the other person's interests". Really, they are all common sense things that you should do. The whole book can be summed up by saying: be considerate of other people. Each section is full of examples of how to use each principle.

Did I like it?: I really didn't enjoy this book. A disclaimer though: I hate reading self-help books. I always feel like there is more wrong with me after I am finished reading the book than I did before I started. Self-help books are like cosmetics commercials: they tell you what is wrong with you so that you will buy their products to fix it. As a result, I found reading this book to be tedious and I skimmed large portions of it. I think I found it so tedious because its use of examples makes it so repetitive. I am not an idiot. I don't need ten examples of one type of behaviour to understand the point being made. I also wasn't a big fan of the constant use of examples from men I am supposed to be impressed by, such as numerous old time US presidents.

Will you like it?: If you are totally incompetent and self-conscious about your behaviour in the business world, you might like this book. Otherwise I suggest that you just use common sense and the golden rule to govern how you treat other people and you'll be fine. I also think this book would be great as a pamphlet: each of the principles set out with one example. The whole book in under 10 pages. It would be great and not nearly as tedious.

But don't take my word for it: A bunch of glowing reviews from Amazon.ca, and a summary of the principles from the book so you never have to read it. Other than that I can only find other glowing reviews from online bookstores and various business types touting the book as a miracle.

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