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How to win friends and influence people: a disappointing reading

If human relationships are more important than technical methods and tools in our jobs, can I learn something from a book like How to win friends and influence people? This one was published in 1936 and written by Dale Carnegie. It is a self-help book.

Many principles are included in the book

Dale Carnegie advises about how to handle people, win friends, influence people, and become a leader.

The overall idea is to avoid arguments and criticize people. Instead of that, try to understand them. Make an effort towards them. Encourage them to speak. Be a deep listener. Smile. Show respect. Admit your errors. Never say to someone that he is wrong. Don’t lose your temper.

This is what you will find in this book. I found the reading interesting but also terribly disappointing.

Why is this reading interesting?

I enjoyed several ideas that were reported.

  • People want to be viewed as important.

They want to be recognized. This is the assumption of the book. By helping people to feel important, you help yourself.

  • Recognize your mistakes. You will be wrong more often than you think. That’s not a big deal to recognize it.

  • Make people think your idea is theirs Before, I used to be depressed when an idea I have repeated for months suddenly became the idea of someone else in the team. I was upset that nobody remembered it was MY idea at the beginning. It’s an egotistic opinion. More than that, the most important is that the idea is finally considered.

Why is this reading not enough?

The idea of the book is to avoid conflicts and arguments. You must not complain. From a psychological point of view, it’s hard. It leads to the idea that you must never lose your temper, be sad or angry. You must not fail and stay in a perfectly happy mood. Of course, no one likes arguing or complaining. However, complaints are sometimes important. If you never say that you don’t like something in your team and want to improve it, you will never make progress.

More than that, you must not talk and let others express themselves. I think it’s important that everyone, including you, expresses oneself.

The second problem I have is when facing sexism, homophobia, or racism in your job. When you’re not able to make an impact because of outside facts like that, putting in the shoes of the other person and be kind don’t help. Sadly, it happens more often than I would like.

Finally, the book seems a bit manipulative. One chapter is about influencing people without them noticing it.


If human relationships are more important than technical methods and tools in our jobs, it might be useful to start looking for some new inspirations. But, I don’t know if I would recommend this reading.