Winning Friends and Influencing People

Dale Carnegie’s best-selling book “How to Win Friends and Influence People” turns 75 this year and its publisher – for better or for worse – is releasing an updated version that deals with the peculiarities of the digital age. Carnegie originally wrote this classic in an era where most communication was face-to-face, so it is understandable that those charged with stewarding his legacy are concerned to do what they can to maintain its relevance. The trouble with updating timeless favorites, however, is that they run the risk of blunting the original message.

Take for example these substitutions:

OLD Don’t criticize, condemn or complain.

NEW What will you do when the best road to business growth goes through someone with whom you have already burned the relational bridge?

Have we really evolved beyond the point where we can follow simple advice, without requiring an explanation? Must everything be sugar-coated in our era of political correctness? One of the mistakes many young parents make is that they feel the need to explain everything to the child in great detail, rather than simply expecting agreement and compliance. What this breeds is a child who does not know how to move easily with authority, an especially dangerous trait in emergency situations (e.g. Parent: “Get off of the road!” Child: “Why?”). While I do agree that every child must learn to weigh his or her options against a set of expected consequences, I also feel that at a certain level every child must possess a fundamental building block to character: obedience.

Another of the updates further illustrates the point, albeit in a less obvious way:

OLD “The only way to get the best of an argument is to avoid it.”

NEW “With so many opportunities to be heard, many seem keen on thrusting forth their right to speak when someone else is wrong, yet they just as quickly shrink into their right to remain silent when it is they who are wrong.”

The updated version is an excellent observation, but like the previous example, it dances around the core message rather than laying it on the table in plain sight. In my experience, when it is time to swallow a bitter pill you are wise to hurry up and swallow it. There is rarely any advantage gained by hemming and hawing, insisting that it be coated, packaged or delivered in a different way. If you are a male of the species, then man up; if you are a female of the species, then put on your big girl panties and deal with it. By all means, never delay the necessary!

The discomfort of a well-deserved lesson lasts only as long as you forestall the full acceptance of responsibility for misplaced orientation, unclear thinking and misguided action. Once you accept it and move forward, allowing for a permanent redirection, you realign yourself with the power of life that allows you to overcome with much less ado the next time the issue comes to point. Your reputation in the minds of others may take a while to catch up, but if you stay true to the truth that sits at the core of your new realization, you will reveal yourself to be a different person over time.

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8 Responses to Winning Friends and Influencing People

  1. Lady Leo says:

    Political correctness has become a weapon and the red herring for those that wish to keep the real issues cloaked. By casting blame, aspersions and accusation elsewhere they hope the facts about themselves won’t be discovered. This modus operandi depends on people falling for the “where there’s smoke there’s fire” deception.

  2. MMc says:

    I agree, when your wrong admit your mistake and move on. Life’s too short to wallow in regret or live as a prisoner of guilt. Everyone will miss the mark on occasion so learning to recover is a valuable life skill. This is also where forgiveness comes in. The updated version begs to forgive yourself. Forgive others and we’ll be practiced enough when it comes to ourselves.

  3. Kai Newell says:

    These are great points to change the course of off-centeredness. The choice is between using our life resources in synch with the greater purpose of our lives, or pouring our life resources into merely trying to off-set the discomfort of being off-center. To the former I say “Try it, you’ll like it!”

  4. Mark Miller says:

    I was planning to read this book. This post gears me up to analyze the updates. Thanks!

  5. Ricardo B. says:

    That’s one of those things in life, where if you expect or wish to inspire certain qualities from people around you, say friends, family memmbers and/or co-workers, then you best be revealing those very same qualities yourself or you are soon to find yourself alone and without audience. Nobody likes an arbitrary dictator and it takes a sort of strong warmth to kindle the fire of inspiration in people’s hearts.

    The strength to the warmth, I feel, has to do with a sense of obedience in yourself. You have to first be obedient yourself to something in order to inspire that same sense of conduct in those around you, and best to start doing it early on so that you set a precedent. However, not all is lost if you become aware of this principle later on. As you well mention, it may take awhile for others to catch on, but catch on it will as long as you remain consistent and avoid the frustrations that can set in. Just stick to what’s right in the new you and move forward, every single day. Those who refuse even then, well, they’ve got their own problems they’re going to have to deal with eventually. There really is no skirting around this issue.

    I remember my parents and grandparents well, and there was nothing indirect and over explanatory about their parenting. Straight and to the point, and if I didn’t like it, well tough cookie – I was forced to deal with these things I didn’t like, and luckily their instruction for the far greater part was not arbitrary; so I had to resolve these issues somehow at some point. If I was behaving unreasonably, it’s easy to see now that there was no sense for my elders to reason with me — I simply needed to obey at that point. This all works out well enough when there is good enough instruction.

    Anyhow, good points to think about here!

  6. Brenda Ruppright says:

    I just saw the updated version of this book advertised on line yesterday and I was wondering how they could really translate Dale Carnegie’s original message into today’s world. I think it is as simple as it was originally put by Mr. Carnegie even if we are in a less face to face world.

  7. Great authors like Carnegie, Earl Nighntigale and Napolean Hill have made a major contribution to our world with their words and their works, and the value and quality of their works have sustained themselves over time as being valuable and viable regardless of the world and its circumstances. I for one have been eternally grateful not only for the beauty of meaning, the sheer impact, of their words but also their ability to withstand the restraints of time. One of the common characteristics of their works is their directness. I guess that they all felt that the best way to go from point A to point B was a straight line. It seems to me that that advice would still hold and be viable today, at least the majority of the time.
    Certainly you create that in your posts Gregg, for which I am very grateful.

  8. Pingback: An Introduction to Nlp: Psychological Skills for Understanding and Influencing People « New NLP Technology

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