Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Book Project: How to Win Friends and Influence People

The third book I've finished as part of my book project is How to Win Friends and Influence People, by Dale Carnegie. I found this book very interesting, especially since I just read The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People. Though Covey and Carnegie use very different language, some of the practices they preach are very similar. However, Covey focuses much more on the private victory, and viewed his habits in light of helping you lead a more fulfilling, effective life. Carnegie focuses completely on the Public victory; and while the steps outlined in his book are geared to help you achieve results in your life that lead to greater prosperity and happiness, it is completely outward. There is no inward examination in his program. Nevertheless, I think his book can help one do exactly what it says--win friends and influence people.

He divides his book into four different parts: how to handle people, how to get people to like you, how to win people to your way of thinking, and how to be a leader. Each part outlines specific steps to help you achieve each ability. For example, the steps in part two consist of being genuinely interested in other people, smiling, learning to remember and use a person's name (I need help with that one!), being a good listener, talking about the other person's interests, and making the other person feel important. He supports each step with a great deal of empirical data and examples from history and from people who have taken his courses and implemented his suggestions.

Today, I'm just going to share a few brief quotes, representing some of the lessons that really struck me.

In chapter two of part one, he shares a quote from John Dewey which I really identified with: "The deepest urge in human nature is "the desire to be important."" Yes, the desire for importance plays a key role in the decisions we make every day. But is it really the "deepest urge"? Is there anything that goes deeper? One might say the desire to be loved is deeper, but it seems to be the same thing; we feel loved when we know that we matter, that we are important to that person, that it makes a difference when we aren't there. One might also submit that the desire to be happy is the deepest desire, but it is very hard, I think, to be happy without at least some feeling of importance.

Carnegie then goes a step further and says that without this desire to be important, civilization could not exist, and there would be nothing setting us apart from the animals. I don't know if I agree with this, either. Don't the animals have some sense of importance? Two males compete for a female in order to show which deserves to be her mate--isn't this a form of trying to be important? On the human side, I don't know if I can picture a civilization forming because people want to appear important; however, I can picture it forming out of a need for common necessities like food, clothing, order, justice, and protection. None of those seem to have very much to do with importance.

This is something that I'm still thinking through...if anyone has another view on this subject, I welcome your comments!

I'd like to share one more quote. Though Carnegie does not cite the source, I looked it up online and found it was from Stephen Grellet. It reads: "I shall pass this way but once; any good, therefore, that I can do or any kindness that I can show to any human being, let me do it now. Let me not defer nor neglect it, for I shall not pass this way again."

I loved this beautiful quote. It is a reminder that time is short. We cannot very often make up lost opportunities to make a positive difference. We must do it now. Like Jose Alonso, a member of the Quorum of the Seventy, counseled in the October 2011 General Conference, "Let us do the right thing, at the right time, without delay.

I really enjoyed this book! Thanks for reading!

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