Saturday, April 18, 2009

Book review: How to win friends and influence people by Dale Carnegie

This is a classic self-help book that was first published in 1936. It is basically a people-skills book and explains how polite manners can positively influence the people you interact with. The author uses anecdotes from famous people such as Abraham Lincoln and Theodore Roosevelt as well as situations involving people the author personally knows. The book focuses on principles that are listed after each section that deal with popularity, influencing people, arguments, conversations, handling complaints, etc. Basically it deals with everyday situations where you interact with people and how to improve those situations.

What I gained from reading this book:
This book has taught me more about communication and people skills than the University unit I took titled ‘Communication skills’. When I started reading it I thought it was just out-of-date etiquette that must have been common in the 1930s. It wasn’t until I applied the principles that I realised they are very applicable today.

Before I read this book I had trouble when dealing with rude or arrogant customers at work. One day during a lunch break I read a chapter that had an example of a customer that never stopped complaining and decided to apply the advice it gave to the next rude customer that came in the shop. Sure enough within half an hour an incredibly rude customer came in demanding a certain item and continuously pointed out the flaws in the other items in stock. Rather than take a defensive approach I followed the advice and (with great surprise to me) the customer immediately changed from a rude know-it-all to a very considerate person. I couldn’t believe what I was seeing! The person came in the store rude and picky and walked out of the store with a smile on her face and saying “very nice to meet you”. It was at that point I realised how useful this book really is.

Since then I have been applying the principles and seen considerable changes in the attitudes of people around me. I used to dread going to work because of rude customers, but now I actually seek them out because I enjoy the challenge of putting a smile on their face.

The ideas in this book have stood the test of time. If you apply the principles, they can actually make your life much more enjoyable. Especially if you deal with a lot of people (eg: working in customer service).
Many of the anecdotes are very enjoyable to read. The situations are easily relatable and help you get a good idea of how to apply the principles.

As the book was first written in the 1930s, the people referred to and a few expressions may not be familiar to some people. Also the editing job was fairly poor in the version I bought with y sometimes being printed as v and other minor mistakes. If you can look past those minor flaws, you can find great gems of advice.
If you don’t apply the principles, you won’t see that they can actually help you out when dealing with people. Like with all self-help books, they are only useful if you actually apply the advice.

Recommended for: Everybody
I recommend this book for everybody because everybody interacts with people. Improving your people skills can improve all areas of your life. Whether you want to improve your work experience or improve relationships and friendships, this book provides simple principles that are easy to apply and can give great results.

Genre: Self-help

Overall rating: 9 of 10 stars
At Amazon you can see that out of 658 reviews (as at 30 March 2009), 528 (80% of readers) gave it 5 out of 5 stars. The only reason I haven’t given it a perfect score like most readers have is because the version I have had minor editing mistakes.

Australians can get the book by clicking the picture below:
How to Win Friends and Influence People

Where to from here:
If you are interested in developing your ability to influence people, you will probably benefit from reading up on negotiation. Read the following book reviews to find which book will help you:
Getting to YES by Roger Fisher and William Ury

Another alternate path you could take is reading up on body language which will help you communicate better and understand people’s feelings and thoughts. The following books I have reviewed:
What every BODY is saying by Joe Navarro
Body language (how to read other’s thoughts by their gestures) by Allan Pearse

No comments:

Post a Comment