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post #1 of 4 (permalink) Old 08-27-2006, 07:19 AM Thread Starter
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Handbook of influence

Second helpings
Richard Morrison

Seventy years after it first appeared, Dale Carnegie’s classic self-help manual How to Win Friends and Influence People is being republished in a new edition. Is it still relevant?

The very title has a creepy feel. How to win friends and influence people? Surely you don’t win friends, you make them. Friends aren’t supposed to be trophies. And though many of us would like to influence people, I would feel very sheepish if I were caught reading a book that was so obviously telling me how to go about the task. Not only would it make me look even more shifty than I am, it would also suggest that I am too stupid or lazy to devise my own strategies for manipulating those around me.

You agree, of course? Well, that’s a pity — because I have just influenced you into dismissing arguably the most successful self-help manual of all time. Dale Carnegie wrote How to Win Friends and Influence People exactly 70 years ago. He had a nerve, since his own early life — failed Missouri farmer, failed teacher, failed journalist, failed actor, failed novelist, failed husband and, most spectacularly, failed investor (he lost his shirt in the Wall Street Crash) — was not exactly a compelling advertisement for self-help.

But he turned the wreckage of serial disaster into the pillar of lasting success. “The reason I wrote the book was because I have blundered so often myself,” he admitted candidly. He believed that there was a market for a “practical working handbook on human relations” — and boy, was he proved right. How to Win Friends went on to acquire 16 million readers and be published in 36 languages. Carnegie’s homely aphorisms — “If you want to gather honey, don’t kick over the beehive” — were digested throughout the corporate world by ambitious men and women intent on climbing their respective greasy poles. His rules for massaging the thoughts and desires of colleagues and business contacts became fundamental laws in the black arts of public relations, spindoctoring, salesmanship and office politics.

And although there are a thousand tomes around today that purport to deliver more sophisticated versions of what Carnegie wrote, the fact that he was the first gave him a tremendous advantage in shaping the corporate mindset. To take an obvious example, you can trace a direct line from his blunt instruction — “Force yourself to smile!” — to the mandatory “Have a nice day!” greeting that 21st-century America demands from every worker who comes into contact with the public.

So what was his recipe for success in 1936, and would it still work in 2006? Rather as Jean-Paul Sartre was to do a few years later in Being and Nothingness (but in less pretentious prose), Carnegie put forward the thesis that we can all choose to control our lives if we wish, rather than being buffeted around by the blustery winds of fortune. He believed that most of us utilise only a tenth of our potential, and that the key to unlocking the rest is to develop our skill at dealing with other people.

How do we do that? Well, Carnegie had a brutally mechanistic view of human nature. He believed that words and deeds are largely shaped by genes, upbringing and circumstance. “You deserve very little credit for being what you are,” he tells the reader. “And remember, the people who come to you irritated, bigoted, unreasoning, deserve very little discredit for being what they are.”

This apparent denial of free will may seem chilling. But Carnegie thought it could be turned to advantage. If you know the right levers to pull in other people’s psyches, he argues, you can make them respond in an entirely predictable way, like puppets. Which, of course, is the fundamental principle upon which all cunning salesmen base their techniques — whether they are marketing soap powder to housewives or (at the time when Carnegie was writing) the concept of Aryan supremacy to Germans.

So how do you know which levers to pull? First, says Carnegie, by working out what makes your clients or customers tick. “Think always in terms of the other person’s point of view,” he advises. Rather than talking about yourself, listen patiently to them talking about themselves. Butter them up by lavishing appreciation on their work. Ferret out every personal detail you can about them, then drop this knowledge casually into the conversation; it will show them that you care. (Carnegie commends the American politician who could recall the first names of 50,000 people.)

Above all, never get drawn into confrontations. “There’s only one way under high heaven to get the best of an argument — and that’s to avoid it,” Carnegie says. If you lose the argument, he says, your credibility will be dented. But if you win the argument, you may lose the deal anyway, because the other person feels aggrieved.

Instead, he advocates “the Socratic yes-yes method”, whereby you advance your cause by making a series of small propositions that each seem irrefutable — but which imperceptibly lead the other person farther and farther away from his entrenched resistance to your argument. It’s the old Machiavellian trick: persuasion by stealth. If it works well, Carnegie claims, you may not even need to make your clinching argument. Your client will already have leapt to the conclusion that you want. Or as Alexander Pope put it, a couple of centuries earlier:

Men must be taught as if you taught them not
And things unknown proposed as things forgot.

Finally, says Carnegie, take a leaf out of J. Pierpont Morgan’s book. The mighty banker once cynically observed that people generally have two reasons for doing anything: the real reason, which is about self-gratification or self-advancement, and the reason that makes them look good in other people’s eyes. A good salesman knows how to appeal simultaneously (and surreptitiously) to both the base and noble instincts.

To read Carnegie’s book today is to step into a distant world. It is full of anecdotes about heroes and villains long departed, from Theodore Roosevelt to Al Capone. It was clearly written — as so much cod-psychology was in the 1920s and 1930s — under the illusion that Freud had revealed all there was to know about human behaviour. And it was written for more innocent, trusting times. That, I think, would be the stumbling-block if you tried to apply Carnegie’s methods in our cynical age. They would seem so crude, so obviously contrived. You would be marked down as a conniving fraud within seconds of opening your mouth.

Yet in one way Carnegie has never seemed so relevant. As much as ever, it seems, political leaders (both moderate and extreme) subscribe to his cynical view that you can make people or even whole populations support you if you pull the appropriate strings in their psyche. The result is chronic for political thought, or what passes for it. Chameleon-like, our leaders issue statements not to articulate their own deep-felt convictions but to “ring the right bells” with whichever audience they are addressing. And that’s a pity. Those who never utter a word without calculating its effect on the listener may indeed be good at schmoozing their way to positions of prestige. But our world also needs people, especially leaders, who aren’t afraid to blurt out the truth, no matter how uncomfortable.

Times (London)
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post #2 of 4 (permalink) Old 08-27-2006, 07:51 AM
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Originally Posted by Botnst
Second helpings
Richard Morrison

Seventy years after it first appeared, Dale Carnegie’s classic self-help manual How to Win Friends and Influence People is being republished in a new edition. Is it still relevant?

The very title has a creepy feel. How to win friends and influence people? Surely you don’t win friends, you make them. Friends aren’t supposed to be trophies. And though many of us would like to influence people, I would feel very sheepish if I were caught reading a book that was so obviously telling me how to go about the task. Not only would it make me look even more shifty than I am, it would also suggest that I am too stupid or lazy to devise my own strategies for manipulating those around me.

You agree, of course? Well, that’s a pity — because I have just influenced you into dismissing arguably the most successful self-help manual of all time. Dale Carnegie wrote How to Win Friends and Influence People exactly 70 years ago. He had a nerve, since his own early life — failed Missouri farmer, failed teacher, failed journalist, failed actor, failed novelist, failed husband and, most spectacularly, failed investor (he lost his shirt in the Wall Street Crash) — was not exactly a compelling advertisement for self-help.

But he turned the wreckage of serial disaster into the pillar of lasting success. “The reason I wrote the book was because I have blundered so often myself,” he admitted candidly. He believed that there was a market for a “practical working handbook on human relations” — and boy, was he proved right. How to Win Friends went on to acquire 16 million readers and be published in 36 languages. Carnegie’s homely aphorisms — “If you want to gather honey, don’t kick over the beehive” — were digested throughout the corporate world by ambitious men and women intent on climbing their respective greasy poles. His rules for massaging the thoughts and desires of colleagues and business contacts became fundamental laws in the black arts of public relations, spindoctoring, salesmanship and office politics.

And although there are a thousand tomes around today that purport to deliver more sophisticated versions of what Carnegie wrote, the fact that he was the first gave him a tremendous advantage in shaping the corporate mindset. To take an obvious example, you can trace a direct line from his blunt instruction — “Force yourself to smile!” — to the mandatory “Have a nice day!” greeting that 21st-century America demands from every worker who comes into contact with the public.

So what was his recipe for success in 1936, and would it still work in 2006? Rather as Jean-Paul Sartre was to do a few years later in Being and Nothingness (but in less pretentious prose), Carnegie put forward the thesis that we can all choose to control our lives if we wish, rather than being buffeted around by the blustery winds of fortune. He believed that most of us utilise only a tenth of our potential, and that the key to unlocking the rest is to develop our skill at dealing with other people.

How do we do that? Well, Carnegie had a brutally mechanistic view of human nature. He believed that words and deeds are largely shaped by genes, upbringing and circumstance. “You deserve very little credit for being what you are,” he tells the reader. “And remember, the people who come to you irritated, bigoted, unreasoning, deserve very little discredit for being what they are.”

This apparent denial of free will may seem chilling. But Carnegie thought it could be turned to advantage. If you know the right levers to pull in other people’s psyches, he argues, you can make them respond in an entirely predictable way, like puppets. Which, of course, is the fundamental principle upon which all cunning salesmen base their techniques — whether they are marketing soap powder to housewives or (at the time when Carnegie was writing) the concept of Aryan supremacy to Germans.

So how do you know which levers to pull? First, says Carnegie, by working out what makes your clients or customers tick. “Think always in terms of the other person’s point of view,” he advises. Rather than talking about yourself, listen patiently to them talking about themselves. Butter them up by lavishing appreciation on their work. Ferret out every personal detail you can about them, then drop this knowledge casually into the conversation; it will show them that you care. (Carnegie commends the American politician who could recall the first names of 50,000 people.)

Above all, never get drawn into confrontations. “There’s only one way under high heaven to get the best of an argument — and that’s to avoid it,” Carnegie says. If you lose the argument, he says, your credibility will be dented. But if you win the argument, you may lose the deal anyway, because the other person feels aggrieved.

Instead, he advocates “the Socratic yes-yes method”, whereby you advance your cause by making a series of small propositions that each seem irrefutable — but which imperceptibly lead the other person farther and farther away from his entrenched resistance to your argument. It’s the old Machiavellian trick: persuasion by stealth. If it works well, Carnegie claims, you may not even need to make your clinching argument. Your client will already have leapt to the conclusion that you want. Or as Alexander Pope put it, a couple of centuries earlier:

Men must be taught as if you taught them not
And things unknown proposed as things forgot.

Finally, says Carnegie, take a leaf out of J. Pierpont Morgan’s book. The mighty banker once cynically observed that people generally have two reasons for doing anything: the real reason, which is about self-gratification or self-advancement, and the reason that makes them look good in other people’s eyes. A good salesman knows how to appeal simultaneously (and surreptitiously) to both the base and noble instincts.

To read Carnegie’s book today is to step into a distant world. It is full of anecdotes about heroes and villains long departed, from Theodore Roosevelt to Al Capone. It was clearly written — as so much cod-psychology was in the 1920s and 1930s — under the illusion that Freud had revealed all there was to know about human behaviour. And it was written for more innocent, trusting times. That, I think, would be the stumbling-block if you tried to apply Carnegie’s methods in our cynical age. They would seem so crude, so obviously contrived. You would be marked down as a conniving fraud within seconds of opening your mouth.

Yet in one way Carnegie has never seemed so relevant. As much as ever, it seems, political leaders (both moderate and extreme) subscribe to his cynical view that you can make people or even whole populations support you if you pull the appropriate strings in their psyche. The result is chronic for political thought, or what passes for it. Chameleon-like, our leaders issue statements not to articulate their own deep-felt convictions but to “ring the right bells” with whichever audience they are addressing. And that’s a pity. Those who never utter a word without calculating its effect on the listener may indeed be good at schmoozing their way to positions of prestige. But our world also needs people, especially leaders, who aren’t afraid to blurt out the truth, no matter how uncomfortable.

Times (London)
Bot, I am glad that the article quotes from Alexander Pope.

I am also glad to see that there is at least a tacit acceptance of the principle that we are our biology. I think that the concept of freewill, while a nice idea, is highly overblown.

I was taught by my mentor that the most effective form of persuasion is to tug at your audience's heart strings, but to leave no fingerprints on the strings.

Last edited by 67_250SE; 08-27-2006 at 09:45 AM.
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post #3 of 4 (permalink) Old 08-27-2006, 08:37 AM
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I felt compelled to respond as I thought it said handful of flatulance, imagine my surprise when I saw all those words(some of them big).

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post #4 of 4 (permalink) Old 08-27-2006, 10:20 AM
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There's other people in this world to contemplate !!!! I thought you where all meeeee ???

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