November 15, 2018

Before the 7 Habits of Highly Effective People came

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Have you ever come across Dale Carnegie’s classic text ‘How to Win Friends & Influence People‘? Described by Warren Buffett as a ‘life-changing book’ Carnegie’s text is the precursor to Stephen R. Covey’s best-seller ‘The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People‘ and Robert Cialdini’s fascinating book on the darker side of the world of compliance ‘Influence: the Psychology of Persuasion‘.

Carnegie focusses on the techniques and values of positive feedback, sincerity, consideration and respect for others, the importance of active listening and wallowing. Indeed, Dale Carnegie also has some very good influencing advice for managers, which is worth reading.

Here are some tweetable quotes:

  • ‘Criticism is futile as it puts a person on the defensive and usually makes them strive to justify themselves.’
  • ‘You can make more friends in two months by being interested in people than you can in two years by trying to get other people interested in you.’
  • ‘Beginning with praise is like a dentist who begins his work with Novocain. The patient still gets a drilling but the Novocain kills the pain.’

Do these phrases ring any bells? Do you know of a manager who applied the Novocain before a drilling? Have you ever had one of your suggestions killed on the spot in a brainstorming session – a common practice?

We know how easy it is to destroy influence and a how difficult it is to build it or rebuild it; but Gavin Kennedy, Professor Emeritus at EBS and author of the EBS Influence course, and Dale Carnegie show how to avoid the former, and promote the latter.

‘How to Win Friends & Influence People’ is not without its critics; after all, a book written as long ago as 1936 for an American audience is bound to present challenges to modern readers, and some of Dale’s behavioural advice – praising errors, for example – may seem nonsensical. Don’t let this put you off though.

If you have not read it, do seek it out. It is one of the pioneers of influencing texts after all.

Robert Hartnett, Senior Teaching Fellow About Robert Hartnett, Senior Teaching Fellow

Senior Teaching Fellow, examiner for Influence, Making Strategies Work and Strategic Negotiation. Part of the Strategic Planning teaching team.