Over 80 years ago, successful business trainer, Dale Carnegie, felt that people needed training in ‘the fine art of getting along with others in everyday business and social contacts’. Writing in 1936, in a masterful bestseller (How to Win Friends and Influence People) that is still making waves today, Carnegie advocated three main bits of advice on how to make real friends. According to him:
1. Never criticise, condemn or complain.
2. Give honest and sincere appreciation (we all have a need to feel we matter).
3. Knowing a person’s name is to acknowledge an important part of them.
He quoted a survey from the University of Chicago that sought to find out what adults wanted to study: “The survey revealed that health is the prime interest of adults – and that their second interest is people; how to understand and get along with people; how to make people like you; and how to win others to your way of thinking.”
Yet, as Carnegie pointed out, the best intentions around winning friends and influencing others often fall by the wayside because, “When you are displeased, it is much easier to criticise and condemn than to try to understand the other person’s viewpoint. It is frequently easier to find fault than to find praise. It is more natural to talk about what you want than to ask about what the other person wants”.
Fast forward a few decades, and his observations apply even more now than they did then! The influence of his book has been so pervasive that, in 2011, How to Win Friends and Influence People was actually number 19 on Time Magazine ’s list of 100 most influential books, having sold over 30 million copies worldwide! Sadly, we are more self-centred than ever, while we become increasingly isolated and friendless, despite the numerous followers and ‘friends’ we might claim to have on social media. Most of us have few clues as to how we go about making friends, and keeping them as friends after we have made their acquaintance. This tends to create a continuous revolving door of acquaintances, and dates, without any long-term associations resulting from them. setting aside the different cultural expectations of the time this book was written, Carnegie gives some essential guidance to that dilemma.
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