Chapter 0 How This Book Was Written—and Why
During the first thirty-five years of the twentieth century, the publishing houses of America printed more than a fifth of a million different books. Most of them were deadly dull, and many were financial failures. “Many,” did I say? The president of one of the largest publishing houses in the world confessed to me that his company, after seventy-five years of publishing experience, still lost money on seven out of every eight books it published.
Why, then, did I have the temerity to write another book? And, after I had written it, why should you bother to read it?
Fair questions, both, and I’ll try to answer them.
I have, since 1912, been conducting educational courses for business and professional men and women in New York. At first, I conducted courses in public speaking only—courses designed to train adults, by actual experience, to think on their feet and express their ideas with more clarity, more effectiveness and more poise, both in business interviews and before groups.
But gradually, as the seasons passed, I realized that as sorely as these adults needed training in effective speaking, they needed still more training in the fine art of getting along with people in everyday business and social contacts.
I also gradually realized that I was sorely in need of such training myself. As I look back across the years, I am appalled at my own frequent lack of finesse and understanding. How I wish a book such as this had been placed in my hands twenty years ago! What a priceless boon it would have been.
Dealing with people is probably the biggest problem you face, especially if you are in business. Yes, and that is also true if you are a housewife, architect or engineer. Research done a few years ago under the auspices of the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching uncovered a most important and significant fact—a fact later confirmed by additional studies made at the Carnegie Institute of Technology. These investigations revealed that even in such technical lines as engineering, about 15 percent of one’s financial success is due to one’s technical knowledge and about 85 percent is due to skill in human engineering—to personality and the ability to lead people.
For many years, I conducted courses each season at the Engineers’ Club of Philadelphia, and also courses for the New York Chapter of the American Institute of Electrical Engineers. A total of probably more than fifteen hundred engineers have passed through my classes. They came to me because they had finally realized, after years of observation and experience, that the highest-paid personnel in engineering are frequently not those who know the most about engineering. One can for example, hire mere technical ability in engineering, accountancy, architecture or any other profession at nominal salaries. But the person who has technical knowledge plus the ability to express ideas, to assume leadership, and to arouse enthusiasm among people—that person is headed for higher earning power.
In the heyday of his activity, John D. Rockefeller said, “the ability to deal with people is as purchasable a commodity as sugar or coffee. And I will pay more for that ability than for any other under the sun.”
Wouldn’t you suppose that every college in the land would conduct courses to develop the highest-priced ability under the sun? But if there is just one practical, common sense course of that kind given for adults in even one college in the land, it has escaped my attention up to the present writing.
The University of Chicago and the United Y.M.C.A. Schools conducted a survey to determine what adults want to study.
That survey cost $25,000 and took two years. The last part of the survey was made in Meriden, Connecticut. It had been chosen as a typical American town. Every adult in Meriden was interviewed and requested to answer 156 questions—questions such as “What is your business or profession? Your education? How do you spend your spare time? What is your income? Your hobbies? Your ambitions? Your problems? What subjects are you most interested in studying?” And so on. That survey revealed that health is the prime interest of adults—and that their second interest is people; how to understand and get along with people; how to make people like you; and how to win others to your way of thinking.
So the committee conducting this survey resolved to conduct such a course for adults in Meriden. They searched diligently for a practical textbook on the subject and found—not one. Finally they approached one of the world’s outstanding authorities on adult education and asked him if he knew of any book that met the needs of this group. “No,” he replied, “I know what those adults want. But the book they need has never been written.”
I knew from experience that this statement was true, for I myself had been searching for years to discover a practical, working handbook on human relations.
Since no such book existed, I have tried to write one for use in my own courses. And here it is. I hope you like it.
In preparation for this book, I read everything that I could find on the subject—everything from newspaper columns, magazine articles, records of the family courts, the writings of the old philosophers and the new psychologists. In addition, I hired a trained researcher to spend one and a half years in various libraries reading everything I had missed, plowing through erudite tomes on psychology, poring over hundreds of magazine articles, searching through countless biographies, trying to ascertain how the great leaders of all ages had dealt with people. We read their biographies. We read the life stories of all great leaders from Julius Caesar to Thomas Edison. I recall that we read over one hundred biographies of Theodore Roosevelt alone. We were determined to spare no time, no expense, to discover every practical idea that anyone had ever used throughout the ages for winning friends and influencing people.
I personally interviewed scores of successful people, some of them world-famous—inventors like Marconi and Edison; political leaders like Franklin D. Roosevelt and James Farley; business leaders like Owen D. Young; movie stars like Clark Gable and Mary Pickford; and explorers like Martin Johnson—and tried to discover the techniques they used in human relations.
From all this material, I prepared a short talk. I called it “How to Win Friends and Influence People.” I say “short.” It was short in the beginning, but it soon expanded to a lecture that consumed one hour and thirty minutes. For years, I gave this talk each season to the adults in the Carnegie Institute courses in New York.
I gave the talk and urged the listeners to go out and test it in their business and social contacts, and then come back to class and speak about their experiences and the results they had achieved. What an interesting assignment! These men and women, hungry for self-improvement, were fascinated by the idea of working in a new kind of laboratory—the first and only laboratory of human relationships for adults that had ever existed.
This book wasn’t written in the usual sense of the word. It grew as a child grows. It grew and developed out of that laboratory, out of the experiences of thousands of adults.
Years ago, we started with a set of rules printed on a card no larger than a postcard. The next season we printed a larger card, then a leaflet, then a series of booklets, each one expanding in size and scope. After fifteen years of experiment and research came this book.
The rules we have set down here are not mere theories or guesswork. They work like magic. Incredible as it sounds, I have seen the application of these principles literally revolutionize the lives of many people.
To illustrate: A man with 314 employees joined one of these courses. For years, he had driven and criticized and condemned his employees without stint or discretion. Kindness, words of appreciation and encouragement were alien to his lips. After studying the principles discussed in this book, this employer sharply altered his philosophy of life. His organization is now inspired with a new loyalty, a new enthusiasm, and a new spirit of teamwork. Three hundred and fourteen enemies have been turned into 314 friends. As he proudly said in a speech before the class: “When I used to walk through my establishment, no one greeted me. My employees actually looked the other way when they saw me approaching. But now they are all my friends and even the janitor calls me by my first name.”
This employer gained more profit, more leisure and—what is infinitely more important—he found far more happiness in his business and in his home.
Countless numbers of salespeople have sharply increased their sales by the use of these principles. Many have opened up new accounts—accounts that they had formerly solicited in vain. Executives have been given increased authority, increased pay. One executive reported a large increase in salary because he applied these truths. Another, an executive in the Philadelphia Gas Works Company, was slated for demotion when he was sixty-five because of his belligerence, because of his inability to lead people skillfully. This training not only saved him from the demotion but also brought him a promotion with increased pay.
On innumerable occasions, spouses attending the banquet given at the end of the course have told me that their homes have been much happier since their husbands or wives started this training.
People are frequently astonished at the new results they achieve. It all seems like magic. In some cases, in their enthusiasm, they have telephoned me at my home on Sundays because they couldn’t wait forty-eight hours to report their achievements at the regular session of the course.
One man was so stirred by a talk on these principles that he sat far into the night discussing them with other members of the class. At three o’clock in the morning, the others went home. But he was so shaken by a realization of his own mistakes, so inspired by the vista of a new and richer world opening before him, that he was unable to sleep. He didn’t sleep that night or the next day or the next night.
Who was he? A naive, untrained individual ready to gush over any new theory that came along? No, far from it. He was a sophisticated, blasé dealer in art, very much the man about town, who spoke three languages fluently and was a graduate of two European universities.
While writing this chapter, I received a letter from a German of the old school, an aristocrat whose forebears had served for generations as professional army officers under the Hohenzollerns. His letter, written from a transatlantic steamer, telling about the application of these principles, rose almost to a religious fervor.
Another man, an old New Yorker, a Harvard graduate, a wealthy man, the owner of a large carpet factory, declared he had learned more in fourteen weeks through this system of training about the fine art of influencing people than he had learned about the same subject during his four years in college. Absurd? Laughable? Fantastic? Of course, you are privileged to dismiss this statement with whatever adjective you wish. I am merely reporting, without comment, a declaration made by a conservative and eminently successful Harvard graduate in a public address to approximately six hundred people at the Yale Club in New York on the evening of Thursday, February 23, 1933.
“Compared to what we ought to be,” said the famous Professor William James of Harvard, “compared to what we ought to be, we are only half awake. We are making use of only a small part of our physical and mental resources. Stating the thing broadly, the human individual thus lives far within his limits. He possesses powers of various sorts which he habitually fails to use.”
Those powers which you “habitually fail to use”! The sole purpose of this book is to help you discover, develop and profit by those dormant and unused assets.
“Education,” said Dr. John G. Hibben, former president of Princeton University, “is the ability to meet life’s situations.”
If by the time you have finished reading the first three chapters of this book—if you aren’t then a little better equipped to meet life’s situations, then I shall consider this book to be a total failure so far as you are concerned. For “the great aim of education,” said Herbert Spencer, “is not knowledge but action.”
And this is an action book.
—Dale Carnegie, 1936
Nine Suggestions on How to Get the Most Out of This Book
1. If you wish to get the most out of this book, there is one indispensable requirement, one essential infinitely more important than any rule or technique. Unless you have this one fundamental requisite, a thousand rules on how to study will avail little, and if you do have this cardinal endowment, then you can achieve wonders without reading any suggestions for getting the most out of a book.
What is this magic requirement? Just this: a deep, driving desire to learn, a vigorous determination to increase your ability to deal with people.
How can you develop such an urge? By constantly reminding yourself how important these principles are to you. Picture to yourself how their mastery will aid you in leading a richer, fuller, happier and more fulfilling life. Say to yourself over and over: “My popularity, my happiness and sense of worth depend to no small extent upon my skill in dealing with people.”
2. Read each chapter rapidly at first to get a bird’s-eye view of it. You will probably be tempted then to rush on to the next one. But don’t—unless you are reading merely for entertainment. But if you are reading because you want to increase your skill in human relations, then go back and reread each chapter thoroughly. In the long run, this will mean saving time and getting results.
3. Stop frequently in your reading to think over what you are reading. Ask yourself just how and when you can apply each suggestion.
4. Read with a crayon, pencil, pen, magic marker or highlighter in your hand. When you come across a suggestion that you feel you can use, draw a line beside it. If it is a four-star suggestion, then underscore every sentence or highlight it, or mark it with “****”. Marking and underscoring a book makes it more interesting, and far easier to review rapidly.
5. I knew a woman who had been office manager for a large insurance concern for fifteen years. Every month, she read all the insurance contracts her company had issued that month. Yes, she read many of the same contracts over month after month, year after year. Why? Because experience had taught her that that was the only way she could keep their provisions clearly in mind.
I once spent almost two years writing a book on public speaking and yet I found I had to keep going back over it from time to time in order to remember what I had written in my own book. The rapidity with which we forget is astonishing.
So, if you want to get a real, lasting benefit out of this book, don’t imagine that skimming through it once will suffice. After reading it thoroughly, you ought to spend a few hours reviewing it every month, keep it on your desk in front of you every day. Glance through it often. Keep constantly impressing yourself with the rich possibilities for improvement that still lie in the offing. Remember that the use of these principles can be made habitual only by a constant and vigorous campaign of review and application. There is no other way.
6. Bernard Shaw once remarked: “If you teach a man anything, he will never learn.” Shaw was right. Learning is an active process. We learn by doing. So, if you desire to master the principles you are studying in this book, do something about them. Apply these rules at every opportunity. If you don’t you will forget them quickly. Only knowledge that is used sticks in your mind.
You will probably find it difficult to apply these suggestions all the time. I know because I wrote the book, and yet frequently I found it difficult to apply everything I advocated. For example, when you are displeased, it is much easier to criticize and condemn than it is to try to understand the other person’s viewpoint. It is frequently easier to find fault than to find praise. It is more natural to talk about what you want than to talk about what the other person wants. And so on, so, as you read this book, remember that you are not merely trying to acquire information. You are attempting to form new habits. Ah yes, you are attempting a new way of life. That will require time and persistence and daily application.
So refer to these pages often. Regard this as a working handbook on human relations; and whenever you are confronted with some specific problem—such as handling a child, winning your spouse to your way of thinking, or satisfying an irritated customer—hesitate about doing the natural thing, the impulsive thing. This is usually wrong. Instead, turn to these pages and review the paragraphs you have underscored. Then try these new ways and watch them achieve magic for you.
7. Offer your spouse, your child or some business associate a dime or a dollar every time he or she catches you violating a certain principle. Make a lively game out of mastering these rules.
8. The president of an important Wall Street bank once described, in a talk before one of my classes, a highly efficient system he used for self-improvement. This man had little formal schooling; yet he had become one of the most important financiers in America, and he confessed that he owed most of his success to the constant application of his homemade system. This is what he does; I’ll put it in his own words as accurately as I can remember.
“For years I have kept an engagement book showing all the appointments I had during the day. My family never made any plans for me on Saturday night, for the family knew that I devoted a part of each Saturday evening to the illuminating process of self examination and review and appraisal. After dinner I went off by myself, opened my engagement book, and thought over all the interviews, discussions and meetings that had taken place during the week. I asked myself:
“‘What mistakes did I make that time?’
“‘What did I do that was right—and in what way could I have improved my performance?’
“‘What lessons can I learn from that experience?’
“I often found that this weekly review made me very unhappy. I was frequently astonished at my own blunders. Of course, as the years passed, these blunders became less frequent. Sometimes I was inclined to pat myself on the back a little after one of these sessions. This system of self-analysis, self-education, continued year after year, did more for me than any other one thing I have ever attempted.
“It helped me improve my ability to make decisions—and it aided me enormously in all my contacts with people. I cannot recommend it too highly.”
Why not use a similar system to check up on your application of the principles discussed in this book? If you do, two things will result.
First, you will find yourself engaged in an educational process that is both intriguing and priceless.
Second, you will find that your ability to meet and deal with people will grow enormously.
9. You will find at the end of this book several blank pages on which you should record your triumphs in the application of these principles. Be specific. Give names, dates, and results. Keeping such a record will inspire you to greater efforts; and how fascinating these entries will be when you chance upon them some evening years from now!