For some, making a great first impression, winning people over to your way of thinking, or being a leader without others resenting you comes naturally. Most people would agree that these “soft skills” are essential to being successful in todays interconnected world. But for those of us who were not naturally gifted with these skills, can we learn them? Dale Carnegie wrote this book in the midst of the Great Depression and would argue that anyone can learn these skills. After reading his book, I would concur. The easy-to-follow vignettes Carnegie employs put his principles into practice. His stories illustrate the great results that can come from working on how we interact with others. One chapter titled “How to Criticize–and Not Be Hated for It” details how pointing out others mistakes indirectly helps them realize and adjust their behavior and allows you to get what you want without them resenting you.
Charles Schwab was passing through one of his steel mills one day at noon when he came across some of his employees smoking. Immediately above their heads was a sign that said “No Smoking.” Did Schwab point to the sign and say, “Can’t you read?” Oh, no not Schwab. He walked over to the men, handed each one a cigar, and said, “I’ll appreciate it, boys if you would smoke these on the outside.” They knew that he knew that they had broken a rule–and they admired him because he said nothing about it and gave them a little present and made them feel important. Couldn’t keep from loving a man like that, could you?-Dale Carnegie
Oh how tactful! This book is filled with examples of exemplary grace that people with high EQ possess.
Other principles such as: If you are wrong, admit it quickly and emphatically and Don’t Criticize, condemn or complain are life lessons we should all strive to adopt. Carnegie even devoted a chapter to the positive effects of smiling. Most of this stuff is elementary, but how much of it is actually practiced until it becomes a habit? Good parents will try to teach these habits, but with so many messed up parents out there, it’s no surprise that people in our society display a demeanor that is loathsome (using these adjectives to describe people runs counter to the advice in this book). Schools should make this book a mandatory read for young adolescents. I’d be willing to bet kids who takes some time to learn some people skills will become more productive and less troublesome members of society. Much like financial education is not taught in school, but expected of us later in life, soft skills are not emphasized enough until we grow to an age where a lack of these skills is no longer acceptable. If these skills don’t come naturally, or even if they do, there is no shame in picking up this book and working towards being better with people. How to Win Friends & Influence People helped me and countless others over the (almost) century it has been in print, and hopefully the easy to read, hard to master, secrets within will help you too.