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Updated: Nov 5, 2021

Winning friends begins with friendliness. Dale Carnegie

The principles in this book are fairly simple but I don’t want to rush them so I’m splitting it over two episodes. In the previous show I said that there are no secrets to success, but Dale Carnegie’s book will certainly give you a few nudges in the right direction, at least in terms of dealing with people.

This classic self-help book was first published in 1936 and in 2011, it was still listed as number 19 on Time Magazine's list of the 100 most influential books of all time. BTW, the author Dale Carnegie was not related to Andrew Carnegie whom I talk about in my LAW OF SUCCESS series. I often wondered that so thought I’d let you know.

Anyway I’m doing this wee series on it as although I think you can pick and choose from the advice it offers in today's world, I do believe that it holds some strong truths and points of interest for us.

Reviews online range from high praise for the words within its pages to corny rubbish. Some feel that it is a manual in manipulation, whilst others preach that it is the most useful book they have ever read. I’ll leave the decision up to you. Despite some criticism though, sales have soared in the years since it was published and it’s possibly now the most famous self help book ever written.

It aims to give easy to follow advice for building and improving positive and successful relationships with people in all areas of your life. It’s not necessarily a book for making friends, although it could be used that way but more directly it promotes good communication, kindness, and the social skills to adopt if you’d like to foster healthy and productive working relationships.

I’m by no means covering all of the lessons from the book in this two parter as there’s a lot to it. It has sections on Fundamental Techniques in Handling People, Ways to Make People Like You, Ways to Win People to Your Way of Thinking and on How to Change People Without Giving Offense or Arousing Resentment. This is just a taster of the book, detailing 5 main lessons in this episode and another 5 in the next.

The first principle which I have taken from Carnegie’s book is to BE A GOOD LISTENER & ENCOURAGE OTHERS TO TALK ABOUT THEMSELVES. This is really two lessons but I’ll treat it as one as they are connected

The author demonstrates this with a story of how he attended a dinner party in New York where he met a botanist. Having never met one before, the author listened to him for hours, riveted by the descriptions of exotic plants and experiments. Later, the botanist remarked to the host what an “interesting conversationalist” the Carnegie was.

But the thing is, he had barely said anything at all. He had merely been a good, interested listener. Even the most ill-tempered person or the most violent critic, will often be subdued in the presence of a patient, sympathetic listener, he says. Most of us are so concerned with what we are going to say next that we don’t truly listen when someone else is speaking. Yet, most people would prefer a good listener to a good talker. On the other hand, talking about yourself a lot, failing to listen to others and constantly interrupting them will make you instantly dislike-able because these traits signal that you’re self-cantered and egotistical. Many of you have likely already learned this lesson in life, but I thought it would be a good place to start.

The next principle is DON’T CRITICIZE, CONDEMN OR COMPLAIN which may be a hard one to swallow in today’s day and age when, as Ricky Gervais has pointed out, it is widely accepted that some people’s opinion’s are occasionally recognized as more valuable than another person’s fact. These are crazy days indeed, but CARNEGIE says that in terms of winning friends, that criticism is futile because it puts the person you are trying to win over on the defensive and makes them strive to justify themselves. It’s important to remember, he has famously said, that when dealing with people, we’re dealing not with creatures of logic, but with creatures of emotion, who are motivated by pride and ego. I can certainly talk for the don’t complain part of this. There are certain people I see every day on social media, moaning about this that or the next thing that I just want to block. Politeness stops me from doing so, but it’s a hard won battle with some people just seem to endlessly, neverendingly moan and complain.

The third principle for today’s episode is to GIVE HONEST AND SINCERE APPRECIATION. WILLIAM JAMES said The deepest principle in human nature is the craving to be appreciated, and that is what Carnegie is riffing off here. We tend to take the people in our lives for granted so often that we neglect to let them know that we appreciate them. Of course we must be careful to keep in mind the difference between appreciation and flattery, which seldom works with discerning people, as it is shallow, selfish and insincere. With words of true appreciation, however, we have the power to completely change another person’s perception of themselves, improve their motivation, and be a driving force behind their success. When you think about it like that - when we have nothing to lose and only positive outcomes to gain - why wouldn’t we offer genuine appreciation more often?

His next principle is that THE ONLY WAY TO GET THE BEST OF AN ARGUMENT IS TO AVOID IT. Carnegie believes that arguing with another person does not really make much sense. If you lose, you lose the argument. If you win, the other person will resent you for having hurt their pride, so you still will not have truly won them over. Nine times out of ten, the argument will only make the other person more entrenched in their stance than they were before. I think this one is fairly self-explanatory. If you are trying to make a good impression, arguing with them is a bad idea.

I can win an argument on any topic, against any opponent. People know this, and steer clear of me at parties. Often, as a sign of their great respect, they don't even invite me. Dave Barry UNQUOTE

Carnegie postulates that instead of arguing with someone, we should admit their importance through appreciation. This may expand the other’s ego so they can then become sympathetic. To do this he suggests that we:

  • Welcome the disagreement. If the other person is raising a point we haven’t considered, we can be thankful it’s brought to our attention as it may save us from making a mistake.

  • That we Distrust our first instinctive impression. Our natural reaction to a disagreeable situation is to become defensive. We should keep calm and be careful of how we first react.

  • Control our temper. Only negative outcomes result from a bad temper.

  • Listen first. We should give our opponents a chance to talk without interrupting, and let them finish without resisting, defending, or debating.

  • Look for areas of agreement. And raise those first.

  • Be honest. Look for areas where we can admit error and apologize for our mistakes. This helps reduce defensiveness.

  • Promise to think over our opponents’ ideas and study them carefully. And mean it. Thank our opponents sincerely for their interest. If they’re taking the time to argue with us, they’re interested in the same things we are.

  • Postpone action to give both sides time to think through the problem. In the meantime, ask ourselves honestly if our opponents might be right, or partly right.

I’ve never thought in these terms myself, or if I have I haven’t been aware of it. A good wee call to action today might be - next time you find yourself in a disagreement with someone, don’t respond with criticism or a negative email. Instead, sleep on it and see how much perspective you can gain by giving yourself a bit of time to think the situation over. That is a lesson I have learned over the years. Instant reactions to things are all too often misjudged and can get us into trouble.

The final principle for today is one I have really tried to adopt, but I find it pretty difficult sometimes. It is that A PERSONS NAME IS THE SWEETEST SOUND THEY EVER HEARD. Carnegie believed that a person's name is a very powerful thing - it's an embodiment of that person's identity. It's a reference to them. So remembering and using someone's name is a great way to make that person feel important.

Calling someone by their name is like paying them a very subtle compliment. Conversely, forgetting or misspelling someone's name can have the opposite effect and make it feel as though we are distant and disinterested in them. Remembering and using people's names is also a critical component of good leadership. He believes that the executive who can't remember his employees' names can't remember a significant part of his business, and is operating on quicksand.

Yet, most people don't remember names for the simple reason that they don't put in the effort. We are introduced to a stranger only to forget his or her name only a few minutes later. I am terrible for this. I work hard to get round it by perusing call sheets the day before I get in and learning the names of the director, the key actors and DOP, script supervisor, armorer etc even before I get there.

I’ll link to an article about name learning in the show notes.

Summing up.


Next time:

Thanks for joining me here today and investing in yourself here once again. If you have enjoyed the show I‘d be very grateful if you would take the time to leave a rating or a review perhaps on whatever app you use to listen to your podcasts on. It makes a huge difference to the show because it bumps it up in the rankings and attracts more listeners. I really appreciate your time here whether you are a long time follower of the podcast or this is your first time hearing what I have to say. Next week’s episode is part two of this two part series on How To Win Friends And Influence People.

I’ll end with a quote from Benjamin Franklin Any fool can criticize, condemn and complain - and most fools do.

Now take control of your own destiny, keep on shootin’ and join me next time on FILM PRO PRODUCTIVITY AND SUCCESS!

The music you can hear right now is Adventures by A Himitsu

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References: How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie.

Thanks: A Himitsu Music: Adventures by A Himitsu

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