Book review: Dale Carnegie’s how to win friends and influence people

When I first received Dale Carnegie’s “how to win friends and influence people” I was really excited. I felt like I hold in my hand a treasure trove of knowledge that could improve my life significantly. After all, it comes highly recommended by many great people in the personal development industry like Bob Proctor and outside of that industry like Warren Buffet.

It sat in my library waiting for me to finish my previous book and every time I walked passed my library I sneaked a glance to see it still waiting for me. When I started reading I simply couldn’t stop, and I literally had to restrain myself in order to really get the ideas. The expectation didn’t fail.

What is it all about

This book is primarily about human nature. It talks about how do people react in certain situations and most importantly how to handle people. It teaches practical knowledge on how to make people like you, how to make them think highly of you, and even how to make them want to do the things you want them to do.

Want to make your colleagues at work think better of you? want to persuade your kid to do his homework? Having arguments with your girlfriend? This is the book for you. All though the book doesn’t speak about each of the examples individually, the principles that it teaches are universal, and would work with any human interaction. That’s what is most compelling about it. Think about it for a minute. Once you practice the principles (and they are really easy to practice) it’s possible to control the situation you are in and get the results you want out of it.

Looking for a raise? Read chapter five of the second part on how to interest people. Speak with your manager about what he is really enthusiastic about, and see the results. Want to make a great first impression on your date? read chapter two of that same section and start smiling more. It is really that simple.

This is also a book that it’s easy to learn from. Since it is meant as a guide book in order to Smileyapply principles, rather than simply reading for pleasure, it has short chapters that each one of them focuses on a single concept. Each chapter is summarized at the end by a short bullet list in one sentence that conveys the main principle (for example “smile!”). It includes lots of real life stories that are easy to relate to and demonstrate the principle in the chapter and generally speaking talks really to the point. It’s a practical book for those who don’t have a lot of time to read, which let’s face, is probably most of us.

A real life example

I wouldn’t be such a fan of this book if I wouldn’t have tried it for myself to see if it worked. Life taught me that theory is important, but applying principles in the real life is what counts, and reality is usually quite different than what the theory expresses. So one night I had a chance to test one of the principles. I’ll confess that I was searching for one and needless to say the law of attraction provided.

One evening my wonderful wife and I had a disagreement over something. That disagreement escalated to a real controversy. Since we are both stubborn we each took his own corner while reluctantly acknowledging the other side. We were quiet and angry most of the evening. As I was feeling bad and upset I thought to myself, that another nice evening goes down the drain.

I then got reminded of chapter 3 of part three in the book titled “If you are wrong, admit it”. I guess the title pretty much sums it off, but the chapter mainly says that if you make a mistake, let the other side know it as soon as possible, preferably before he points out that mistake. Take responsibility for it and apologize. It then got me thinking if, in fact, I was mistaken, and surprisingly, trying to see things from my wife’s perspective, I actually understood why was she mad.

I then deiced to go and try the tactic in real life. Worst case, the situation won’t improve and we would continue being angry at each other. I went over and saw that my wife was starting to say something, but before she did I jumped in and told her that I am sorry and that I should have acted differently. The thing is was that I meant it. I was actually more sorry than angry.

Once I apologized sincerely, before she pointed it out, the entire situation was defused. We agreed to disagree and the evening was great!

It’s working!

Encouraged by the fact that simple methods from the book actually work, I tried other methods to see how things change when I apply the principles. In a very short time, I started noticing that people smile more towards me, greet me good morning. At one point one of the municipality workers who clean the street next to our house started greeting me on a daily basis, and you could see his enthusiasm each time we went past each other. I even use principles from the book on this blog and on my 2-year-old, which surprisingly enough, work 🙂

With principles like smiling, calling the other person by its name, giving praise publicly to other people, or listening to what other people want, it’s easy and fun to see how you can change people behavior’s and make them want to do the things you want them to do.

The point that I’m trying to make in all of this is that if you are looking for a practical hands-on book that would improve your life, make it more enjoyable, give you an edge in your business or job this is it. With its short chapters that touch on a single topic each time, you can choose to read all of it absorbing what you can, and then open it each time you have something you wish to solve.

Hope you find it as fun and empowering as I did.

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