In this day of self-help books for just about everything it’s easy to forget that there was once a time when ‘self-help’ wasn’t even in the dictionary. Before self-help came along if you needed help with something you usually figured it out on your own or possibly asked your clergyman for help, as asking for help was seen as a sign of weakness.
That’s why, in 1936, the revolutionary new book How to Win Friends and Influence People was such an incredible success, because no one had ever seen a self-help book before and this one had some great ideas and tips for getting ahead in life. In fact, the term self-help was coined due to this very book. The fact that the original sold 15 million copies during a time before computers, before TV, heck even before air-travel became routine is a testament to its author, Dale Carnegie.
In 1981 a revised edition was released that streamlined the book, eliminating sections on effective business letters and improving your marriage. I suppose that, by 1981, there were enough self-help books around that they felt they should concentrate on business answers and leave the marriage counseling to professionals like Jerry Springer.
Now, some may think that because the book was written almost 80 years ago that it would have little relevance today but the exact opposite is true. Some of the lessons that can be learned from this excellent tome are still being taught today in business schools and boardrooms all over the world.
For example, in the section on handling people the book advises to never criticize or complain, to give honest and sincere appreciation for work well done, and to never show that you’re not interested in what someone else has to say. Wise words indeed if you want to get ahead in today’s business world.
Want to make people like you? Smile more, remember people’s names (and use them often) and be a good listener. By talking in terms of the other person’s interest and making them feel important you will win them over every time. Sounds like good advice for a wide variety of careers.
The fact is, this book is so stuffed with great info for today’s businessperson that it should be required reading on college campuses and in organizations everywhere. Mr. Carnegie was really onto something when he wrote the book, and that’s probably why they named a Hall after him. Get the book and read it. You’ll be glad you did.