How to Win Friends and Influence People … by Dale Carnegie

‘How to win friends and influence people’ is a phrase I had heard often, however I had not realised it came from the title of a book until we were recommended to read the book by Mark Smith during the 90 Day Mentoring Challenge.  The fact that the phrase is now part of everyday language is testament to the popularity of the book and it’s subject matter over an extended period of time.

Although they were both ‘self made men’ originally born into poverty, the author, Dale Carnegie, is not related to the renowned philanthropist Andrew Carnegie whose name is carried by the famous Carnegie Hall.  In fact the author was originally born Dale Carnagey and changed the spelling of his name to Carnegie in a deliberate move to suggest an association between himself and the great philanthropist … some would say a stroke of marketing genius!

The book ‘How to Win Friends and Influence People’ was originally published in 1937 and was originally written as a textbook for courses the author ran in self-improvement.  It has been republished a number of times, with minor amendments to keep it current.  While the current version has been updated to include contemporary examples, rather than some of the potentially outdated examples given in the original publication, the general message and tone of the book have not changed, and the foreword tells us that it remains written in the same conversational and breezy style the author originally used.

The book sets out to do what it says on the cover, by focusing on four key areas;

  • techniques for handling people
  • ways to make people like you
  • how to win people to your way of thinking
  • how to change people without giving offence or arousing resentment

Each of these areas are then broken down into specific action points that can be used as a guide to building the skills necessary to navigate your way through life successfully.  The entrepreneur Warren Buffet is quoted on the inside cover of my copy as saying “this book changed my life”.

I really enjoyed reading the book, quite possibly as it affirmed many of my own behaviours and I guess it’s always nice to think your experiences have shaped you in the right way.  I did find some of the perspectives a little outdated, despite the attempt to provide more up to date scenarios, although I’m prepared to admit that may be due more to my occasionally less than conventional view of the world.

As a big fan of anything that can help us become better humans, I would recommend this book with the caveat that as with most self-improvement techniques, there is no ‘one size fits all’ approach and applying every single one of these actions does not guarantee to instantly make you more popular or successful.  Contrary to the claim on the inside front cover, I do not agree that this is “the only book you need to lead you to success”.

Deckchair Reads 7/10