Dale Carnegie’s “How to Win Friends & Influence People” Should Be Part of the Curriculum

This book has provided invaluable lessons to the human population since being published in 1936. I was given this book as a present by my family (or rather, Santa Claus) during Christmas in 2016. Initially, I simply passed it off as another “self-help”, “self-improvement” book. But, ever since reading it I’ve been glad I was given this book.

As soon as I began to read it, I realised it wasn’t a boring mainstream book as I’d thought it was. It provides interesting and engaging anecdotes that provide intriguing insights. The title of the book may sound like it’s a book for ‘loners’ (or whatever), but I’d rather call it the Bible for every human planning to step into an environment that contains other humans.

My favourite lesson from the book is to “be a good listener”. In the chapter that elucidates this principle, Carnegie recounts a party he was at. At the party, he struck a conversation with a botanist who went on and on about exotic plants. Sure, it may not have been the most interesting conversation he could have had. But Carnegie listened to the botanist’s passion till the end of the party. At the end of the party, Carnegie was named “most interesting conversationalist”, when in reality it was just the botanist doing all the talking. Carnegie only listened with great fascination for the botanist and his work.

This taught me that people really value time that you offer to them, and that people do appreciate good listeners. I really don’t mind listening to people talk for hours endlessly. I’ve incorporated this principle into my life, and I think its worked wonders. I don’t have to add to a conversation; all I do is listen intently.

I’ve met interesting people in various places. And I think the best way to get a person to appreciate you on your first meeting with them is to listen intently. You also get to understand them pretty well.

The Book

More than providing ‘hacks’ to get people to like you (as the title may suggest), the book’s lessons provide guidelines on being:

  1. A more effective leader.
  2. A cooperative and devoted team worker.
  3. A better reviewer.
  4. A great friend.
  5. Most importantly, a more empathetic human.

As we (youngsters) step into the real world of work and relationships, we are bound to be placed in one or more of the roles mentioned above.

As young adults, we’re generally somewhat sheltered from the real world in order to learn skills and gain knowledge about concepts we’ll be using out there. Sure, a lot of us probably don’t end up using knowledge we gained studying trigonometry or the features of the Indus Valley Civilisation, but we will step out of our homes and our schools as social beings. Social beings that will work with and interact with other social beings.

Why Mandate the Reading of this Book?

In the mayhem of teaching us Calculus and Literary Analysis, our schools tend to forget to teach us the very basics — being humans in today’s complicated world. We have ‘life skills’ classes in Indian curricula, but I believe they aren’t all that effective. I don’t know how effective mandating the reading of this book will be either. But I believe such an action (mandating the reading of this book) could promote empathy and positive social interactions. The anecdotes in the book may be taken more seriously than an adult teaching empathy.

I know that saying this is expecting too much, but I’m curious to know whether such an action could prevent bullying and other malices. Who knows?

I’m certain that the book could have some profound impact if read with the right frame of mind. I don’t think the book is designed to teach us to become people-pleasers, but rather cooperative human beings. I believe that the book provides invaluable lessons for all. And it is in our best interest to learn these lessons at an early stage of our lives.