Winning friends and influencing people. The Authors Collection.
November 19, 2014
[Third in a series of articles answering the question, “How did that book get into your top ten list?”]
IN EARLY DECEMBER 1983, I made a career choice to leave middle management with Eckerd Drugs and pursue sales. An ad with this headline had grabbed my attention: “Wanted – high energy person for sales and training with Dale Carnegie.”
My adventures with Eckerd had begun in December of 1977 in Bunkie, LA. After just a few months with Eckerd, word came to me that every member of middle management in Louisiana had taken the Dale Carnegie Course. I had heard of it and was aware that How to Win Friends and Influence People was an international best seller. Carnegie had written it to use in classes he taught at the YMCA in New York City. His class was designed to teach people skills in communication that would bolster their self confidence and lead to success in business.
I enrolled in the course in the summer of 1979. My copy of Carnegie’s famous book still has a place of prominence on my desk.
Something happens every day and I deal with the event habitually. As I relive the incident later there’s always a Carnegie principle to which I can point. Today in church, I brought the message as the pastor was scheduled for surgery. The reader read the wrong scripture. He read from the Gospel of John rather than 1 John. When I rose to deliver the sermon, I took credit for the mistake, read the correct scripture and never said a word to my friend. “Let the other person save face.” I didn’t think twice. My response was one born of habit.
Where do habits like that originate?
Carnegie’s principles begin with nine principles designed to “Become a friendlier person.” Rule one, “Don’t criticize, condemn, or complain.” Over the many years, numerous students asked me (while I was teaching), “If we can’t do those three things, what do we do?”
The answer is easy—any of the next eight. A few of my favorites from the next eight include, show honest sincere appreciation, smile, and be a good listener.
After reading and studying this book, I adopted the title of an important section as my personal definition of leadership. It served me well in all my years of management: “Changing peoples’ attitudes without giving offense or arousing resentment.” Not an easy task and certainly one that doesn’t happen overnight.
How to Win Friends and Influence People and the associated course changed my life. When I became an instructor and taught several classes, it cemented the principles and made lifelong habits. After more than thirty years I’ve come to realize that the most important person to befriend and influence is the one I see every morning when I shave.
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