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Dale keeps bugging me to be his Facebook friend
October 11, 2011 4:49 AM   Subscribe

How to Win Friends and Influence People, published in 1936, (now in PDF!) is one of the top 10 best selling self-help books of all time. But some of the advice - Smile! Remember the person's name! - doesn't translate to modern social-networking times. The new version has been updated for the digital age, but may have lost some of its homespun virtue.

The original 1936 edition was also updated in 1981; it was condensed and vaguely racist language (like this) was removed.
posted by twoleftfeet (27 comments total) 11 users marked this as a favorite

 
The authors look to place Carnegie’s advice in new contexts. They hold up Tiger Woods as an example of how not to behave when caught in an embarrassing situation.

Tiger Woods is a better example of how not to behave so that you get caught in an embarrassing situation.

As a particular example for how not to behave when caught in an embarrassing situation, Bill Clinton still owns that title.
posted by three blind mice at 5:10 AM on October 11, 2011


As I remember it, one of the somewhat cynical bits of advice he gives is to find the important people in the organization (often what were then called secretaries) and make friends with them. How do you "win" friends? Well, because people like talking about themselves, ask them a lot of friendly questions and appear to be very interested in their answers. Of course, I'm sure the advice sounded a lot friendlier than I spun it.
posted by kozad at 5:11 AM on October 11, 2011


Smile! Remember the person's name! - doesn't translate to modern social-networking times.

Ummm...yes it does. For one thing, we still interact with humans a fair bit. For another, that advice is not literally about curling your lips upwards and remembering the person's actual name. It's about being cheerful and remembering THE PERSON. Which can include their interests, their pets' names, something that they like, the nickname they prefer to their real name, etc.
posted by DU at 5:27 AM on October 11, 2011 [2 favorites]


The book works for salesmen, shy people and the anempathic alike: a set of fairly simple instructions on how to connect socially with others. Some people for whatever reason have a hate-on for this kind of "ABCs of social interaction" material but believe me there are people (like me) who need it to be this simply explained or we just won't get it.
posted by seanmpuckett at 5:29 AM on October 11, 2011 [9 favorites]


It's all perfectly good advice as long as you know when to take it with a grain of salt. Make the friends you want with your personality alone, but if you want to know how to schmooze as well, check out Carnegie's advice.

I also find that much of the Pick Up Artist crap from a few years back was basically a reheated version of Dale Carnegie's material, with some warmed-over evo-psych and goofy jargon.
posted by Sticherbeast at 5:33 AM on October 11, 2011 [1 favorite]


Also, How To Win Friends and Influence People was long on my amorphous "read someday" list. I listened to several chapters of the audiobook and was like "this is just stupid self-help junk". At that moment, I realized that Dale Carnegie is not Andrew Carnegie. I thought it was something from an actual successful (if possibly evil) person.
posted by DU at 5:46 AM on October 11, 2011 [2 favorites]


DU, from Wikipedia: "Perhaps one of Carnegie’s most successful marketing moves was to change the spelling of his last name from “Carnagey” to Carnegie, at a time when Andrew Carnegie (unrelated) was a widely revered and recognized name."
posted by octothorpe at 5:56 AM on October 11, 2011 [3 favorites]


I question the value of this book. This in particular stood out for me:

It’s hard to indicate a smile in an e-mail or an instant message unless you are willing to go the emoticon route, and then all is lost either way.

So there is no Emily Post / Dale Carnegie / Miss Manners definitive guideline on whether and when to use smileys? I believe that is true, and the absence of such a basic item means I cannot rely on such a book the way I could rely on Carnegie's original book.

Also: does anybody know if they cover "flag it and move on"?
posted by bukvich at 5:58 AM on October 11, 2011


Perhaps one of Carnegie’s most successful marketing moves was to change the spelling of his last name from “Carnagey” to Carnegie...

Oh, shit! A character on Boardwalk Empire was reading a Carnegie book with his name in the old spelling and I was wondering what was up with that (although, clearly not enough to actually look it up.)
posted by griphus at 6:21 AM on October 11, 2011 [1 favorite]


My favourite part of the book is the footnote where it says everything is exactly the opposite in England.
posted by srboisvert at 6:32 AM on October 11, 2011 [1 favorite]


I will use this opportunity to once again recommend William Gaddis' The Recognitions, which makes of Dale Carnegie's work a running & often poignant joke.
posted by chavenet at 6:44 AM on October 11, 2011


So there is no Emily Post / Dale Carnegie / Miss Manners definitive guideline on whether and when to use smileys?

Yes. emoticons are inappropriate for anything more formal than an off-the-cuff email or text to a friend. If dotting an i with a ♥ seems like a weird idea in a setting, avoid emoticons.

Glad we got that out of the way.
posted by GenjiandProust at 7:29 AM on October 11, 2011


If dotting an i with a ♥ seems like a weird idea in a setting, avoid emoticons.

Clearly you've never had to sign a contract with Cuddlestein, Fluffberg & Sparklemeyer.
posted by griphus at 7:34 AM on October 11, 2011 [11 favorites]


Yes. emoticons are inappropriate for anything more formal than an off-the-cuff email or text to a friend.

:C
posted by drezdn at 8:08 AM on October 11, 2011


GenjiandProust I agree with you totally and I never use an emoticon except in a friendly e-mail addressed to only one single recipient. They are quite common in my inbox, however. I believe you and I are in a distinct minority.

I once got an e-mail notice about somebody's death in my job e-mail in microsoft office where the sender had used their default font of comic sans. The person who sent me that was above my pay grade. The idea of a reliable modern communications etiquette guide seems almost impossible to me.
posted by bukvich at 8:30 AM on October 11, 2011 [1 favorite]


I just wanted to say I really like the OP's phrase 'homespun virtue'. What an excellent combination of words. If it's a cliche then I'm unfamiliar with it.
Also I just wanted to brag that I have a self-help book from the same golden era with the wonderful title 'Enjoy Work and Get Fun out of Life'.
And thanks for the link btw - interesting stuff! :)
posted by Monkeymoo at 8:44 AM on October 11, 2011


Clearly you've never had to sign a contract with Cuddlestein, Fluffberg & Sparklemeyer.

I really hated interning there summer 2L year. The associate I was under flipped out because I lost the standard rainbow sparkle gel pen we ask clients to use and look, I'm sorry, but the printer didn't have enough scented lavender paper, and in any case refused to cover it in glitter no matter what color it was. We had a deadline.
posted by Sangermaine at 8:53 AM on October 11, 2011 [3 favorites]


> Yes. emoticons are inappropriate for anything more formal than an off-the-cuff email or text to a friend. If dotting an i with a ♥ seems like a weird idea in a setting, avoid emoticons.

Some people find it inappropriate to send HTML (“rich text”) e-mails. Some will look down on you if you append a full quote of the original message when you respond. There are people campaigning for and against conciseness in online communication. This rule of yours is at least as arbitrary. It’s perfectly alright to have some arbitrary stylistic rules, but your “Glad we got that out of the way.” makes it seem like you think it is more than that.

I myself try to avoid emoticons, mainly because it kind of feels like I lost the game of language when I have to resort to extralinguistic means in order not to sound like an asshole. (Sadly, this covers most of the situations where I feel tempted to end a sentence with “:-)”.)
posted by wachhundfisch at 8:57 AM on October 11, 2011 [1 favorite]


Did you know that Radioshack used to require its salespeople to read How To Win Friends and Influence People as a part of training? Well I do, because I was once an employee of RadioShack in Bismarck, ND and Dilworth, MN.

I read this piece-of-shit book, and I hate it, and I hate recommendations for it showing up in threads here. Surely, there is a better option.
posted by fake at 9:35 AM on October 11, 2011 [1 favorite]


What i find inappropriate is the sanitizing of older books which used the (correct at the time) terms for persons of color, other races, and even our then enemies IIRC there was some outrage when they did this to Huck Finn.
posted by Gungho at 9:36 AM on October 11, 2011 [2 favorites]


We had a deadline.

I call shenanigans. Even I know that Cuddlestein, Fluffberg & Sparklemeyer call them "livelines," since "deadlines" are a downer. And use up to much black ink in the printer.
posted by GenjiandProust at 9:37 AM on October 11, 2011


Also the last time I got an e-mail death notice the sender had a meta-tag on the sucker "important mainly because of the people involved in the conversation" and it had been forwarded thoughtlessly from one guy to a second to a third to a fourth to me so I don't know who was the clueless fuckwit that tagged it like that, but I have a suspicion who it was as I have observed this person doing other clueless fuckwit things but I do not know. That would be the third, so even if the person who forwarded me the e-mail didn't tag it like that they thoughtlessly forwarded the piece of crap.

Emily Post would roll over in her grave.
posted by bukvich at 9:41 AM on October 11, 2011


This rule of yours is at least as arbitrary. It’s perfectly alright to have some arbitrary stylistic rules, but your “Glad we got that out of the way.” makes it seem like you think it is more than that.

This rule on mine is Holy Writ! I have spoken! Let it be done!

OK, no, obviously, it's all social agreement. However, as I painstakingly point out to my students every semester, everything in a communication is information, from your email address to your spelling the name of the person you are contacting, to how you structure the body of your message. If you need emoticons in formal writing to get your point across, you are going to fail the "must be able to communicate in spoken and written English" point in the requirements of the job posting. Or have the person who received your email not take it seriously.

I guess we have not gotten it out of the way, but I don't think "do not use emoticons in any kind of formal writing (and most writing you do to people you do not know well is formal writing)" is controversial. Although I am no Miss Manners.
posted by GenjiandProust at 9:43 AM on October 11, 2011


> Clearly you've never had to sign a contract with Cuddlestein, Fluffberg & Sparklemeyer

I've done business via e-mail with I Can Has Cheezburger, and they really did use LOLspeak during contract negotiations.
posted by The corpse in the library at 10:57 AM on October 11, 2011 [3 favorites]



The authors look to place Carnegie’s advice in new contexts. They hold up Tiger Woods as an example of how not to behave when caught in an embarrassing situation.

Tiger Woods is a better example of how not to behave so that you get caught in an embarrassing situation.


Having the world find out that you keep having sex with gorgeous women is embarrassing?

And is there some sort of Enhanced Reality app that you can point at someone's face and it tells you which Facebook friend they are? Facebook already knows my friends' faces, but I don't.
posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn at 3:44 PM on October 11, 2011


I myself try to avoid emoticons, mainly because it kind of feels like I lost the game of language when I have to resort to extralinguistic means in order not to sound like an asshole.

There's a time and a place for emoticons, but I wouldn't go so far as to make the claim that using non-verbal communication is an automatic fail.

I've heard this argument before: "Don't use emoticons! Or italics! Find the words for what you want to use, and use them!" But when we speak, we smile, or frown, or change posture, or wave our arms, or move our eyes, or raise our voices, or use any of an almost infinite number of non-verbal expressions to communicate what we're saying. Sometimes we don't use words at all.

Seems to me emoticons are a substitute for these very important forms of communication. Sometimes words alone are not enough. I've often responded to an emailed or texted remark with a simple :-) and I think that conveyed my response in a much more nuanced, thoughtful and personable manner than writing, "What you just wrote made me happy."
posted by paleyellowwithorange at 2:58 PM on October 12, 2011


I read this piece-of-shit book, and I hate it, and I hate recommendations for it showing up in threads here. Surely, there is a better option.

Say what you will about How to Win Friends and Influence People, but at least the behaviours it advocates are net-positives for everyone involved. Most of the tips are the kinds of things that a lot of genuinely good people do naturally.

Over the last 25 years self help books of the "social skills for businessmen" type have become increasingly violent and devious. The more warlike the association you can make, the better the book will sell. Mention Sun Tzu, von Clausewitz, or Machiavelli and you have a best-seller on your hands.

Any day now, I expect Stalin's Secrets: How to Win in Business and Life Through a Campaign of Brutal Terror to be published to rave reviews.
posted by atrazine at 3:39 AM on October 16, 2011


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