Author: Dale Carnegie. “was an American writer and lecturer, and the developer of courses in self-improvement, salesmanship, corporate training, public speaking, and interpersonal skills.” (thanks, wikipedia)
My Thoughts: This book is a classic because it works. It’s an easy read and there’s clear, actionable advice. It was probably the first self-improvement book I ever bought and it introduced me to many new and helpful ways of interacting with people. There’s lots of fancier, wordier, more recent books out there on similar subjects but this one gets to the point and after 80 years is clearly time-tested.
Should You Read This Book?
If you have these challenges:
You are having trouble getting people to be interested in you or do what you would like them to do.
… then it might help you:
by giving you simple, concrete things you can do to make people like you and listen to you more.
But you might not want to read it if:
you find a lot of books like this to be just “common sense”.
What I Got Out Of This Book
The book was written in 1936 but is still in print. From the title (and the accompanying marketing copy on the back cover) you wouldn’t be blamed for thinking it was a book full of sneaky tricks to bend people to your will.
But with advice like “smile”, “give honest and sincere appreciation”, and “become generally interested in other people”, I’d say it’s far from sneaky. There’s few “tricks” here.
In general, the book emphasizes that if you care about other people then they will care about you. But you should care about them first.
“Be hearty in your approbation and lavish in your praise” and “Don’t criticize, condemn, or complain.” are two of the ones that I think have paid the biggest dividends for me.
Is a lot of it common sense? Sure. But given how often I’ve seen someone attempt to win friends or influence people while being oblivious to how badly they are apply “common sense”, I think the book is worth recommending to everyone. We all have blind spots.
Another reason to read this book on common sense instead of some other book filled with its own common sense is that this book separates the wheat from the chaff. You don’t need 100 ways to make people like you. These couple dozen (I think) are some of the best. Focus on them instead.
Don’t just skip to the summary. Yes, you can quickly read all the book’s principles here on wikipedia. But you’ll get far more from reading the book because speaks about these ideas in a way that makes you believe them more deeply. And I think when you believe in something more deeply it’s easier to find yourself taking action on it.