How often have you heard somebody say that? Wearing, like a badge of honour, the fact that they have not read a book since leaving school. In all honesty, it’s a pretty sad statement.
Literature has become an overlooked and even disparaged medium for consuming information. Without even considering the joys of delving into another world and vicariously enjoying adventures through the mind of a hero, heroine or villain. As this powerful talk outlines, books are amazing learning tools that forge intelligence in young minds and expand horizons.
Whenever you want to learning a new subject, what better way than picking up an expert’s thoughts and feelings, condensed into just a few hundred pages? As the entrepreneur Alan Donegan explains, if you read the top 3-5 books in any space you instantly jump the knowledge queue in that area.
On his popular Radical Personal Finance podcast, narrator Joshua Sheats reads an excerpt outlining the power of the written word. Followed by podcaster Aaron Franz’s take on books.
Once upon a time, I came across a dog eared book in a thrift store and, with curiosity piqued, I picked it up and began to leaf through. I have never forgotten the title of the book because, when I first read it, the initial thoughts that sprung to mind could not have been more off the mark.
Ordinarily, How to win friends and influence people by Dale Carnegie is a book I would’ve pushed straight back on to the shelves and relegated to the scammy self help niche with little relevance to me or my life.
But I didn’t put it back. I picked it up, leafed through and decided to buy it. As I sit here today, in front of my laptop with coffee by my side, that same book is one of a select few that sits in a crate behind me. As a minimalist I don’t covet or collect possessions. However, no matter where I’ve travelled, How to win friendshas never left me.
Timeless principles for life
The principles shared in this book are timeless, so shockingly simple, yet so often underutilised by many of us. Remembering a person’s name for example. It’s one of the things we all love to hear. It shows that we care, that we take notice, that we are interested enough to recall someone’s name and show they are important to us.
Years ago I read an article in a newspaper by a man who had once suffered from depression and extreme suicidal thoughts. Thankfully, at the time of writing, he was doing much better. He recounted a story of how he was close to ending his life and while walking on the way to a bridge he intended to jump from he was met with the smile of a stranger that gave him second thoughts and literally saved his life.
Smiling at another person, or even talking to a person can have life-changing effects on their mood. Talking and conversing is a powerful way of getting to know another person. Listening can help you get to know them even more. Often we talk too much and listen nowhere near enough. Instead of actually taking in what a person is aying, we are merely waiting for them to finish talking as we eagerly stand by with our next point.
Everyone should read this book, it is very educational however the style in what it was written is a little bit out of date because the book was written in 1936. It gives you really good tips that you can use in your private life and in your work life as well.
In How to win friends Carnegie implores us to listen properly (a skill that can and should be learned) and encourage others to talk more about themselves. Find their interests and talk about them. You can see even the most lacklustre conversationalist open up whenever he/she is discussing their favourite topic(s). Sincerity is key. We must make others feel important and interesting.
This Medium blog post contains an engaging and concise compilation of Carnegie’s thoughts and ideas.
In a previous life I was a stubborn man. I could not admit to being wrong. Neither could my ex-partner which, as you can imagine, pretty quickly led to the “ex” part of our relationship! We would spend days not talking to one another, angry and feeling wronged when a simple apology and the ability to let it go could’ve fixed the whole problem instantaneously.
There are many other life lessons to take from this old favourite of mine, many of which are centred around making the other person feel comfortable, important, listened to. We must empathise and see the other person’s point of view. Humans are emotional creatures. We love and laugh, throwing logic out of the window.
Flatter, don’t deceive
There is an old saying “flattery will get you everywhere” and whilst this is a coy cliche it rings true in much of Carnegie’s approach. Ultimately, the way we treat people determines the strength of our relationships and enhances or decreases our levels of success.
The old copy of How to win friends still sits behind me as I write. The pages are a slight tinge of brown and some are starting to come loose as the glue dries up. But the principals and lessons remain as fresh and relevant as ever.
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