Sunday Salon 23 November 2008
It is strange how just a slight change in emphasis gives an entirely different impression. To my great surprise I liked 'How to Win Friends and Influence People' very much. I went through it quickly, but quite thoroughly, making notes after each chapter.
Because I have been on this planet quite a long time now I felt I had discovered some of these rules for myself already, but still it does no harm to have them reinforced, and also be reassured that these are the 'right' thing to do - and why exactly they are 'right'. Of course there are other rules which are new to me, and so feel I have learnt a lot too.
The main conceit of the older book was that if you please people, and make them feel happy and important - then both parties benefit. The more modern version said the same thing but in a more bullish and manipulative way. For instance it advocated paying compliments to people whose job is to provide a service, hinting that if they kept it up their boss would be informed - and have the requisite letter at the ready. Everything was constructed around this sort of rather calculating attitude.
As far as the research for my novel is concerned, I think I shall find both books of great use, and can think of ways of incorporating their ideas already. The older 'How to Win Friends...' has general guiding principles; whereas the 'How to Talk...' book has more specific examples. The 'How to Talk...' book is easier to read with modern examples; but the 'How to Win Friends...' is perhaps more witty and has a kinder overall philosophy.
Basically, I think, the message is that if you can somehow manage to make other people feel important, valued and respected then they will come to like you and respect you. These books go into the detail of how to accomplish this in everyday life.