New: Book Report: How to Win Friends and Influence People

This is a popular book about how to be well-liked. The good news is that there's some good advice in here. E.g., try to see things from the other person's point of view. The bad news is that some of this good advice is hard to follow. Sometimes you see things from the other person's point of view, and you realize that they must be some nutjob who will never come to their senses and we're all doomed. Then you realize you've gone to all this trouble to see things from their point of view and you still don't know how to influence this person.

The worse news is... This book has been out for a while. This book has been popular for a while. Many people already know its more straightforward advice. I suspect that so many people know about it that... the world has changed. This book's advice is now backfiring. I'm pretty sure it backfires when people try to use it on me. This book suggests addressing people by name—people tend to respond to their own name. The thing is... nowadays, I tend to respond to my name by flinching. I think Oh gee, someone is following this book's advice and is trying to turn on the charm. What are they up to?

You're also supposed to compliment people sincerely. Maybe that's how I picked up another tic—I flinch when people compliment me. Usually it means they're about to ask me for a favor. "Oh, gee, you're so much better at cleaning tile grout than I am... How would you feel about cleaning the shower?" According to this book's advice, you're also supposed to compliment people even when you don't especially want them to do something for you at the moment. But not many people do this, so I shy away when folks start dropping compliments. I don't think I'm the only one who does this.

You'd think that this book would just have me cringing. Actually, it was an interesting book. Ghe guy who wrote it had some good ideas about how to teach people. It does some interesting things with repetition. There's a summary at the end of each chapter. There was a blank page at the end of the book, and I was encouraged to note down how I'd applied the book's lessons. It was a library book, so I was tempted to make up some funny anecdotes for the amusement of the next person to check it out, but in the end I didn't think of any.

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Posted 2010-01-21