How to Win Friends & Influence People might just be my favorite book, because it’s a book that I need to keep reading. I enjoy taking the initiative and leading my endeavors, ranging from school projects to mentoring to work projects. The issue that I’ve continually run into in situations where I would lead is that the people around me wouldn’t enjoy it, and nobody wants to be the guy leading the miserable project.
Is this Recommended Reading?
Yes. Yes. Yes.
I’ve often heard it said in software that no project has ever failed for technical reasons, they all fail because of people. The most important thing that we can learn to do is interact with those around us and build one another up. How to Win Friends & Influence People is a book that describes just that in a practical way. This book is full of principles, strategies, and tactics for interacting with people in such a way that it’s beneficial for everyone. The worst part about this book is that its title sounds a bit like it’s about manipulating people, but in truth, this book is more about not being a jerk than anything else.
The Gist of It
How to Win Friends & Influence People is broken into four separate sections:
- Fundamental Techniques in Handling People
- Six Ways to Make People Like You
- How to Win People to Your Way of Thinking
- Be a Leader: How to Change People without Giving Offense or Arousing Resentment
All four of the sections are good, but they actually cover the same information and techniques by applying them in different contexts. The overarching premise behind the book is that people want what they want, and each and every one of us is more interested in our thoughts, desires, and selves than we are in others. The ticket to winning friends and influencing people is to acknowledge this fact and listen to people. There are other nuggets of information in here that are exceptionally useful related to how people react to the exact ways that you say things to them also, but those ideas aren’t even useful until we start to internalize that people care about their desires and selves more than all else.
How to Win Friends & Influence People is such an important book to me because it addresses one of my key flaws, I hurt people’s feelings unintentionally… a lot. I do this by correcting people, almost every time that they are wrong. Dale Carnegie does a great job of pointing out you can’t get people to do or think the way you would like them to by telling them that they are wrong. In general, people will dig their heels into the ground when you point out their flaws and resist your ideas even if you prove that you’re correct. This provides a wealth of insight when it comes to disagreeing with someone, and how to address a situation when you know you’re right. For me, I need to let people think their own thoughts, and I should only approach correcting someone if the subject is truly important. If I do decide that it would greatly benefit the other person I need to not tell them they’re wrong, but rather ask them questions to see if I can lead them to what I know to be true.
The other big thing that I’ve taken away from this book both times that I’ve read it is that I need to search out and appreciate the good qualities of other people. In general, I’m surrounded by awesome people, but our culture has trained all of us to complain about everything that we see that is “wrong”. That habit (which many of us share) has a negative impact on our lives because it blocks us from seeing all of the great things and people around us.
The takeaways from How to Win Friends & Influence People are so important in my eyes that this is a book that I will continually come back to and reread for years to come and I encourage everyone to do the same.