Dale Carnegie describes how to make a lasting impression on people in his book ‘How to Win Friends and Influence People’. The book is not about manipulating people in order to achieve personal goals but to practise constructive criticism and help others.
Carnegie’s first advice is to not criticise people at all in a manner that people usually do. He claims that ‘normal’ criticism hardly sees any success or change in behaviour. Criticising others usually serves to make oneself feel better, however, Carnegie says that even this goal is not reached in most cases. This is due to negativity, many times the other person is hurt or feels attacked.
Carnegie’s strategy to sustainably alter the behaviour of others is incentives. He says that people need to feel good about themselves in order to achieve long-lasting change. Incentives that could work in order to change the behaviour around other people are for example appreciation. It is important that the person thinks they changed their behaviour on their own account.
According to Carnegie, the highest chances of success are when people are made aware of their mistakes indirectly. Direct criticism often does not work. Furthermore, it helps to admit to some own mistake since this normalizes mistakes and can help to make the other person feel better.
Carnegie provides several strategies to make people like you more. For example, it is advisable to show genuine interest in people and use their name in conversations. Furthermore, listening skills are important as is sincerity.
What I liked about Carnegie’s book was that he offers a lot of different strategies to deal with people and all of them are very positive. I fully agree that openly criticising people can lead to resentment and often ends in one person getting hurt. However, I disagree that it is always the best way to passively make people aware of their mistakes. Sometimes, a honest and open approach works very well, however, it should be noted that this always needs to be very respectful. Constructive criticism is not necessarily a bad thing and it can help people to see results much faster than passively hoping the other person picks up subtle clues, so they change their behaviour. Providing incentives is a good strategy and I think this can be very helpful. Positivity is always desired and much more effective than negativity.
Furthermore, I think the strategies Carnegie provides to help people like an individual more are quite obvious and not very innovative. Everything he mentions is something that most people would know about already, even if implementation might be difficult for some. One should be careful not to overuse these strategies as well, this could be very unnatural, thus making people like an individual less.
What people should always consider when reading this book is that Carnegie basically gives advice on manipulating others. Everyone should be careful not to use these tactics to further their own agenda. Manipulation is an aspect of social interactions that is extremely common and normal to a certain extent, however too much of it is unhealthy and can damage relationships.
However, considering that the book was released in 1936, it is still relevant today and can be applied to many social interactions. Carnegie truly managed to inspire generations of people and I find it sad that not everyone uses the positivity that is described in the book today. Many managers could surely improve employee relations by using some of the strategies in the book, thus improving morale and productivity. Having profound respect for each other is something that can be applied throughout time and Carnegie’s book surely contains a lot of wise statements.