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Dale Carnegie: The King of Self Help

Some book titles become clichés.  So it is with ‘How to Win Friends and Influence People’.  We use this as a turn of phrase from time to time – often without having read the book.

A Confession

I confess: I wrote my own book on influence, without reading it. And the most shameful part is that it had been on my shelf for several years.  I pulled it down this week to take a look.

Who was Dale Carnegie?

Dale Breckenridge CarnegieDale Carnegie came from Missouri and was the son of poor farmers.  After college, he tried a number of careers, including sales, acting and writing novels.  As a salesman, he was extraordinarily successful.

But real success began when he started giving night-school courses in public speaking at the YMCA schools in New York.  He was not paid, but instead was able to keep a portion of the admission fees.  Before long, he was earning a very handsome income.

He changed the spelling of his family name from Carnagey to Carnegie, to link him to the wholly related, highly successful business man, Andrew Carnegie and, when his talks became exceedingly popular , even hired and sold out Carnegie Hall.

His first book, a text about public speaking and influence was followed, in 1936 by the book that was to make his name and his fortune.

How to Win Friends and Influence People

In How to Win Friends and Influence People, Carnegie tells you how to do just that, in four parts.  It remains in print and the latest UK edition, at time of writing, is ranked 187 in Amazon’s UK list of all books.  The four parts give you:

  1. Three principles for handling people
  2. Six ways to make people like you
  3. Twelve principles for winning people over to your way of thinking
  4. Nine principles for how to be a leader

There is far too much to summarise here, so I will pick on his six ways to make people like you, as perhaps the most fundamental human skill.

Six ways to make people like you

Dale Carnegie: Six ways to make people like you

So here’s the deal

Robert Cialdini, in another Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion, describes ‘liking’ as one of the six ‘weapons’ of influence.  And being liked requires no magic.  Yet, just because it’s easy, it doesn’t mean we all do it.

I am off to chat in the kitchen while my wife watches Come Dine with Me and we cook supper.  On past form, at least one of the contestants will fail on at least three of the above.

For you though, treat Carnegie’s list as a simple model for how to be liked, and therefore, how to increase your influence.

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