An image showing a book cover for 'How to win friends and influence people'.


The allure of influence. The possibility that we can become someone important, someone with the power to impact others in a real and tangible way. The now-complicated concept of friendship- ever-changing in a digital landscape where connection seems more about internet, and social media doesn’t feel so social. Originally published in 1936, Dale Carnegie’s How to Win Friends and Influence People is still revered as a key part of the self-development literature canon, but does it still stand up?

To play fair, let’s consider the re-hash of Carnegie’s original, in the form of How to Win Friends & Influence People in the Digital Age.

Key Points: A Breakdown:

“You must become genuinely interested in others before you can ever expect anyone to be interested in you.” This concept of mutual respect, and of genuine interest in others, is a theme throughout Carnegie’s book. It is a concept strewn throughout major belief systems, religions, and, to some degree, marketing schemes.

“[Treat] someone like the person you want him to become.” A bold idea, this element of interpersonal relationships can be hard to grasp- to have the evolved perception to be able to look at what people could be, and to wish the best for others, no matter your personal and immediate views of those people.

” ‘I do not like that man,’ Abraham Lincoln once said. ‘I must get to know him better.’ “ So we land upon problem- the concept that we must befriend our enemies, and get close to those who are not always good for us. In self-development, boundaries are one of the most important factors in maintaining emotional wellbeing. It’s not about putting up a wall, it’s about allowing yourself to step away from those who are a pervasive negative force in your life.

“There are no neutral exchanges. You leave someone either a little better or a little worse.” This is one of the brilliant and hidden gems of the book. We walk through life seeing so many of our everyday exchanges as ‘neutral’- the conversation with the cashier, the glance at the passer by. This concept of no neutral exchange offers us the rare opportunity to find power in everyday moments, and to use that power to create positive experiences, leaving people better than we found them.

“You must value interdependence higher than independence.”

In many ways, Carnegie’s essential ideas still stand up in the present day. Luckily, there is space for us to interpret these ideas and apply them to our individual circumstances. To reflect on the most relevant aspects of Carnegie’s arguments, and to challenge ourselves to change the ways we relate to others.

Have you read Carnegie’s book? How have self-development books impacted your experience?

Dale Carnegie – How to Win Friends & Influence People
Dale Carnegie & Associates – How to Win Friends & Influence People in the Digital Age

Featured image: Creative Commons Usage Applies.

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