Book Review: How to Win Friends and Influence People

Originally published in 1936, How to Win Friends and Influence People continues to teach us important lessons in human relations. After reading the book it was clear to me not only why it stands the test of time, but also that the book provides the building blocks upon which most every customer service manual and program is based.

The book is an essential read for anyone who works with people (that includes just about everybody) and wishes to get along better in a social setting.

The book is divided into four parts: Fundamental techniques in handling people, six ways to make people like you, how to win people to your way of thinking, and be a leader: How to change people without giving offense or arousing resentment. In each section, Carnegie explains each lesson using engaging anecdotes and easy explanations. At the end of each section he breaks down the key lessons, “In a Nutshell”.

In addition to the newest version of the original, the Dale Carnegie institute produced an updated version of How to Win Friends and Influence People for the “digital age”. I read this version as well and find it to be timely and current and would recommend it as a suitable modern substitute for the original.

As I mentioned, if customer service was a house and the cool rooms in it were Disney, Starbucks, The Ritz-Carlton, and Chick-fil-a, How to Win Friends and Influence People is the foundation where that house rests. All of those successful customer service cultures teach many of Carnegie’s lessons to their team.

In one of many examples, all those companies emphasize using the customers name throughout their interaction. In the section, “Six ways to make people like you”, principle number 3 reads, “Remember that a person’s name is to that person the sweetest and most important sound in any language”.

Starbucks is well known for always taking the customer’s name (although not always correctly) and writing it on their coffee cup. That communicates to the customer that the particular cup of coffee they are holding was made especially for them.

At The Ritz-Carlton, using the customers name is emphasized twice in their, “three steps of service”. Chick-fil-a training also emphasizes using the customers name whenever possible.

Carnegie weaves developing empathy throughout the lessons of the book, including being empathetic in a genuine way. He talks about the importance of listening and letting other people tell their stories, not just listening to respond but truly listening to understand.

I recommend this book to everyone I work with and meet. In the future, I could see everyone in my organization reading it. If we all lived by Carnegie’s lessons, not only would customer service improve, but society in general would improve as well.

We share this earth with 7.6 billion other people. We need to treat other people with respect and dignity if we are to accomplish anything, if we want to live better lives or even more fundamentally, if we want to survive.

KEY TAKEAWAY: How to Win Friends and Influence People is a must read. It not only describes the fundamentals of human relations, but is used as the bedrock to delivering exceptional customer service experiences for many successful companies. Even if you are not in the service business, you should read this book and embrace its lessons of being genuine, empathetic, and listening well.

How to Win Friends and Influence People is available for purchase on Amazon for $16 (does not include Prime discount)

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