“How to Win Friends and Influence People” should be required reading for everyone that over the age of 18. In a nutshell it tells you to be really nice to people. This is reiterated throughout the book with stories of people being nice and getting what they want. It doesn’t always work out this way, but often a good place to start and something to keep in mind.
The book is very textbook-like (probably because Carnegie intended to use it in his course). He has three fundamental techniques for handling people:
- Don’t criticize, condemn or complain.
- Give honest and sincere appreciation.
- Arouse in the other person an eager want.
These are probably the best tips in the book with respect to personal relationships (ie not professional and not intimate). Carnegie also provides lists of techniques for the following topics:
- Six ways to make people like you
- Twelve ways to win people to your way of thinking
- How to change people without giving offense or arousing resentment
You can see all of these techniques (without details) in the Wikipedia article.
All-in-all a very good book that everyone should read. I don’t buy everything 100%, but it is a good place to start with negotiations, dealing with people, and just getting through every day life.
What makes me wonder about these techniques are that I read about a number of people who do the exact opposite and succeed. For example, I was just reading today about an anecdote involving Richard Fuld, previous CEO of Lehman Brothers. Quoting from “Too Big to Fail” by Andrew Sorkin:
Kaplan, cupping the receiver with his hand, turned to the young trader, exasperated. “You always think you’re the most important,” he exploded. “That nothing else matters but your trades. I’m not going to sign your fucking trades until every paper is off my desk!”
“You promise?” Fuld said, tauntingly.
“Yes,” Kaplan said. “Then I’ll get to it.”
Leaning over, Fuld swept his arm across Kaplan’s desk with a violent twist, sending dozens of papers flying across the office. Before some of them even landed, Fuld said, firmly but not loudly: “Will you sign it now?”
While it makes for a good story, and goes completely against what Carnegie advocates, we never really know if Kaplan signed the trade or not. My guess… he did.