One of the keys to getting out of my rut has been a rejuvenation of my reading habits. It’s ridiculous how much you can pull from a $15 book (confession: I rarely spend that much on a book, but the point stands).
I was inspired by The Optimistic Child, an incredible book about how to teach your kids to identify the good in situations. If you’re like me and have a kid who tends to be a little pessimist (something he learned from his dad, sadly), then you really should check it out.
It hit that if Dr. Seligman has good information to pass along, others might as well.
I finally let down my guard and decided that maybe I don’t know every damn thing there is to know about the world of business.
After some brief research, I began with the OG of personal development books: How to Win Friends and Influence People.
Everything steals from this book, you guys.
HTWFAIP (yes I’m using that to refer to the book) was written in 1936. Humanity was basically compromised of cavemen and snake oil salesmen at the time.
That’s an exaggeration. But Carnegie was traveling the country doing perhaps the earliest form of self-help. His courses taught people how to be convincing, how to make new friends, and so on.”
A publisher caught one of these seminars and thought it would make for a nice book.
80 years later, that book is still being repurposed, copied, and rebranded. Any book you’ve picked up about gratitude, influence, sales, management is at least borrowing from HTWFAIP.
Try saying that out loud. It’s quite entertaining.
That piece I wrote a couple of weeks back about losing arguments? I thought that was a pretty unique perspective. Carnegie devotes a section to seeing things from others’ perspectives, and assume that they have informed, well-thought reasons for believing the things they do.
My piece about not talking about yourself? Yeah, Carnegie breaks that down as well.
Neither of those are new concepts, but he illuminates them and so many others in one book. It’s like nailing the quad lutz in your first week of skating.
Some of it is not really reasonable.
You can’t avoid all arguments, as he suggests. And you shouldn’t constantly blow smoke up people’s asses just so they’ll like you. Nor can every direction be posed in the form of a question.
It’s not that important. Like every personal development book, it’s not going to be 100% spot on. Use your own sense of discernment.
Most of this book is incredible wisdom that more of us should be putting to use.
How I use HTWFAIP
HTWFAIP is divided into several categories, such as “How to Make People Like You,” and “Be a Leader.” Within those sections are basically 30 principles.
I keep a copy of these principles near my desk. I don’t always practice all of them. As I mentioned, some of them are probably wrong. But taken as a whole they’re a good reminder of some very important concepts:
BECOME A FRIENDLIER PERSON
1. Don’t criticize, condemn or complain.
2. Give honest, sincere appreciation.
3. Arouse in the other person an eager want.
4. Become genuinely interested in other people.
6. Remember that a person’s name is to that person the most important sound in any language.
7. Be a good listener. Encourage others to talk about themselves.
8. Talk in terms of the other person’s interest.
9. Make the other person feel important – and do so sincerely.
10 The only way to get the best of an argument is to avoid it.
WIN PEOPLE TO YOUR WAY OF THINKING
11. Show respect for the other person’s opinions. Never say, “You’re wrong.”
12. If you are wrong, admit it quickly and emphatically.
13. Begin in a friendly way.
14. Get the other person saying, “Yes, yes” immediately.
15. Let the other person do a great deal of the talking.
16. Let the other person feel that the idea is his or hers.
17. Try honestly to see things from the other person’s point of view.
18. Be sympathetic with the other person’s ideas and desires.
19. Appeal to the nobler motives.
20. Dramatize your ideas.
BE A LEADER
21. Throw down a challenge.
22. Begin with praise and honest appreciation.
23. Call attention to people’s mistakes indirectly.
24. Talk about your own mistakes before criticizing the other person.
25. Ask questions instead of giving direct orders.
26. Let the other person save face.
27. Praise the slightest and every improvement. Be “lavish in your praise.”
28. Give the other person a fine reputation to live up to.
29. Use encouragement. Make the fault seem easy to correct.
30. Make the other person happy about doing the thing you suggest.
(Credit to Howie Reith on Quora for this particular phrasing of the concepts)
The book is a quick read, and well worth your time. Grab it at the Amazon link below if you feel like being generous to me, or just pick it up for free at Google Books.