Essential Career Book: How to Win Friends and Influence People

With hundreds of business books published every year, it’s easy to get overwhelmed by the latest and greatest book that might just hold the key to your career success. But what if the onslaught of new releases is distracting you from a classic career book you’re missing out on?

In an effort to make sure our younger readers don’t miss out on famous and life-changing reads from “before your time,” we’d like to share some essential career books you can’t afford to miss. Over the next few months we’ll introduce the titles that established the industry of personal growth and career success. 

The first book we’ll read is Dale Carnegie’s How to Win Friends and Influence People, first published in 1936. While written in an old fashioned voice, this classic self-help book provides incredible insight into understanding other people and creating long-lasting, mutually-beneficial relationships with them.

As you read the book (or to inspire you to read the book), consider these three important lessons from Carnegie that can help you win friends and influence people:

People are important, so make them feel that way.

In a digital, virtual and email-heavy kind of world, it’s easy to forget how important people are for your personal growth. However, whom you meet and whom you befriend has a huge effect on your career and earning power over your lifetime.

As you gain proficiency in your field and take on new jobs you’ll meet a wide range of people, Carnegie emphasizes that the key to all human relationships is understanding that we all want to feel important, remembered and helpful. We all also play an important role in helping others feel that way so what you do and say early on in a conversation and in a relationship matters a great deal.

Career Tip #1: The people in your life and in your workplace now are very important. Think of what you can do to help others feel important.

People like people who appreciate their interests.

When you start a relationship you’re a blank slate meeting a blank slate. The best way to get started is to focus on what the person you’re speaking with finds interesting and agreeable. Once you get to this common ground or get to this, “Yes,” you’ll find that the other person’s interest will help them be interested in you. From this mutual place of agreement, a real relationship can grow.

The common holdback at this point in a relationship is to be too consumed with your own opinion, your own interests or your desire to correct someone or win them to your side without hearing them out first. It’s important to understand that until someone feels that you truly understand them or are willing to consider their side, they will never be moved to hear you out or consider your side.

Career Tip #2: Start with the other person’s interests and build familiarity from there. Don’t start with your own agenda in mind; seek first to understand.

Never argue, always discuss.

We like to think that the most convincing or detailed argument wins and that there is a clear “right” and “wrong” answer, and anyone with the wrong answer should admit it. However, Carnegie provides a lot of anecdotes that show how argument never successfully changes anyone’s mind. In fact, he coined the phrase, “A man convinced against his will is of the same opinion still.”

Arguments and disagreements are bound to come up. However, the most successful communicator will approach these differences from a friendly, discussion-focused position rather than an argumentative one. It’s only patient, friendly discussion that allows people to put their walls down and truly consider a different viewpoint.

Career Tip #3: If you start at two opposite positions, you’ll end there, too. Get them saying “Yes” as soon as possible to find common ground.

These are only three great points from a book bursting with insights and examples. Have you read this classic book? Share with us your favorite quotes and thoughts on how this book can change your career!