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Old book for new generation: How to win friends and influence people – Book Review


Abbas Ali |

“There is no friend as loyal as a book”. Earnest Hemingway

The book “How to Win Friends and Influence People” is gleaned by the pen of one of the finest American writer of his time, Dale Carnegie. This fabulous book written in 1936, deals with the personal and professional development and it is one among the most popular and influential books of self-improvement which helps to deal effectively with people in business, at home, with friends, in schools, in universities and anywhere you go.

It takes something extraordinary for a book to become and remain the best seller, worth reading, and bring positive change in one’s life, this books caries all such aspects. Sixteen million copies of this book have been sold out around the world and it has been translated into thirty-six languages around the globe. Although this book was published more than eight decades ago, as yet it is highly relevant to the world of today; or I must say that it is still more applicable this day as it was yesterday keeping in view the magnitude of problems this world is confronting with presently.

The second part of the book centers the ‘six ways to make people like you’ and provides the practical examples which help to develop others’ interest in you. We interact with a number of people in our daily life.

The author of the book Dale Carnegie was a son of a farmer, who burnt the midnight oil to chase his dreams and became the world-class writer as well as a public speaker. After accomplishing his education, he started teaching, became a salesman and a best public speaker. Moreover, he became and is the well-known developer of major courses like self-improvement, salesmanship, corporate training, public speaking, and intra personal speech.

For the simplification and comprehending, the book is divided into four parts. Each part is full of vivid and practical examples, stories, and quotations of some world famous people, who had something to say.

The first part is about the ‘fundamental techniques of handling people’ and others are the explanations to comprehend it. This contains three principles: don’t criticize, condemn or complain, give honest and sincere appreciation and arouse in the other person an eager want. Carnegie has given various practical examples here not to criticize anyone no matter how rude they are with you. In this regard, he says, “Criticism is futile because it puts a person on the defensive and usually makes him strive it justify himself.

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Criticism is dangerous, because it wounds a person’s precious pride, hurts him sense of importance, and arouses resentment”. If we find something wrong in someone, we do not criticize them directly but talk about self-faults and how did you bring change in it. People are very much judgmental about others but never look at oneself with the same eyes. According to him, ninety-nine times out of a hundred people never criticize themselves for anything no matter how wrong the things they have done. Another principle is to appreciate others in all means if you want they do something for you or your given task.

As William James said, “The deepest principle in human nature is the carving to be appreciated.” We do not get what we want by criticism; however, we can achieve even more by appreciations, because it gives feelings of importance to others and raises their moral and sense of being significantly important. The most neglected virtues of our daily communication are appreciation(s). We must not forget that it is in human nature to be appreciated on every ground. With a series of examples in this book, it is proved that the honest appreciations get results more positive than criticism and degradation.

As author opines, “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.”

The second part of the book centers the ‘six ways to make people like you’ and provides the practical examples which help to develop others’ interest in you. We interact with a number of people in our daily life. Without having any idea of dealing with them, we lose their interest in ourselves, as the author suggests, ‘The expression that one wears on one’s face is more important than the clothes one wears on one’s back’.

Our body language is immensely imperative and (to be) judged when we meet others. Wearing a smile, thus, is exceedingly vital during human (not limited to though) interaction, since it inspires others. When we put a smile on our face while interacting with others, it gives them an understanding of importance. There is a famous ancient Chinese proverb, “A man without a smiling face must not open a shop.” It is applicable to every profession but more in the corporate sector.

Moreover, this chapter tells to be interested in others, not oneself because people like to be interested. When we talk about them, it gives them a feeling(s) of being central and secure. Furthermore, this chapter tells about the importance of being a good listener, as we may not be able to understand people unless we listen to them.

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In the third part, the writer describes a series of techniques ‘how to win people to your ways of thinking.’ The first one is about the arguments. There are a number of people who argue with others on some matters and situations intentionally and unintentionally. Arguing is not a layout of anything rather we make the things more complex. Here writer prescribes that the best and only way to win an argument is to avoid it. Once Buddha said, “Hatred is never ended by hatred but by love.”

Arguments and misunderstandings are never ended by aggression and counter-arguments but by tact, diplomacy, conciliation and sympathetic desire. Another way of winning people in your way is through showing respect for their opinion, never saying them wrong; as it is not merely negation of one’s opinion, nonetheless one’s pride, identity, thinking, and willpower. If we reject their opinion thence we would not be able to achieve the things we want. Moreover, everyone tends to believe in his/her school of thoughts. If there is anything unconditional then take the third alternative rather proving others wrong.

Carnegie has elucidated all the rules with multiple interactive examples. If we follow these rules, then we will set the road to a successful and goal-oriented life. This book is a treasure for everyone.

The most important principle of this part is to admit mistakes quickly, since accepting mistakes is quite common among the people. They always justify themselves and argue rather than admitting their wrongdoings. By fighting we never get enough, whilst by yielding we get more than we expect. Thus, avoiding arguments, giving justification and accepting mistakes hurriedly and empathetically, is better. As author opines, “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.”

The fourth part explicates the ways ‘to be a leader: how to change people without giving offense or arousing resentment.’ It always sounds good and comfortable to listen to something unpleasant about ourselves after some praise and appreciation about our positive points. In the same way, others also like this approach. Prior stating something unconventional to them on their blunders, we must highlight their good points, appreciate them and thence discuss their faults.

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The current book proclaims that correct person in an uplifting way rather criticizing. Another technique is to talk about your own mistakes such as “I would have done the same thing in your position” before criticizing others. We let other people know that such things can also happen with us to tackle them calmly. This helps you to improve your relationship with that person. Another principle of this part is to ask questions instead of giving direct orders. No one likes to take orders. Ask them questions as they come up with some better conclusions and do the things as you want, like, “Maybe if we were to do it this way it would be better.

What do you think?” Another thing is to let other person save face. The legendary French aviation pioneer and author Antoine de Saint-Exupery once wrote: “I have no right to say or do anything that diminishes a man in his own eyes. What matters is not what I think of him, but what he thinks of himself. Hurting a man in his dignity is a crime.” If we know we are right about something and the other person is wrong, we have no right to rub it in the person’s face in front of other people and make him feel inferior and embarrassed about it. We can keep it for us and let him save face. Be the bigger person.

A truth of human nature is that people will be obligated to live up to whatever reputation you attribute to them. Tell a person that you think or you have heard that they are honest or industrious or any other variety of virtue and they will usually live up to it. The last principle of this book is to make the other person happy about doing the things you suggest. Let’s take an example; if kids want to play with you but they have not done their homework and you want them to do their task first, you ask them to complete homework then you will play with them. In this way, they will complete their task in a happy mood. If you want others to do something of your interest, then try to give them inducement so that they do the task happily.

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Prior to reading this, I had never read such a motivational, inspirational and life-changing book, as it has explained multiple ways how to become successful and live life happily. This book is worth reading; the stories, the practical examples, and quotations are illuminating and very close to our lives. Carnegie has elucidated all the rules with multiple interactive examples. If we follow these rules, then we will set the road to a successful and goal-oriented life. This book is a treasure for everyone. I will strongly recommend everyone to read it, once (at least) and your life would be changed not completely but significantly.

Abbas Ali is MPhil scholar in Air University Islamabad. The Views expressed in this article are author’s own and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Global Village Space.

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