I was really embarrassed about buying How to Win Friends and Influence People. I couldn’t even bring myself to buy the book. It’s stashed away on my ipad in Kindle format instead. Since then I’ve bought two copies of the book, but they were for other people, which was far less embarrassing. Don’t think I don’t know how little sense this makes. As if the people at Amazon know the whole backstory to each purchase? Or more to the point, as if they give a vague shit? In fact, if they weren’t so incredibly over-worked I’d wager they’d be taking cheeky peeks at it as they pick and pack, hoping to snatch a sneaky pearl of wisdom.
The point is I felt like a loser for needing to read this book. I must be socially defunct, right? Doesn’t everybody else know this stuff already and are happily fluttering around like born social butterflies? Well, possibly not, in retrospect.
Reading the book has been somewhat of a revelation. I’ve spotted the behaviour of many a friend, family member and colleague (ah, yes, and myself) amongst the examples of what not to do. Perhaps it’s not so unusual to get this stuff wrong, after all…? I’m starting to feel a bit better about this.
Most of the principles in the book seem quite obvious when you think about them (smile, compliment people, listen, ask them about themselves) but I know I’ve been guilty of neglecting to do quite a few of them, and I’m not nearly alone in that respect as I’d feared.
I also love that this book was written in 1937, which a) makes it a damn good read, littered with lovely anecdotes of various 1920’s and 30’s businessmen and presidents – I found myself reading it in an old Hollywood film voice – and b) really quite enlightening in that each principal is still absolutely relevant here in 2014. Nearly a millennium later, all that advice still holds. It seems that being genuinely interested in people and making them feel important is the Little Black Dress of social interaction. It never dates.