Last month, Sabrina and I went on a decluttering binge in preparation for the “Homes for the Holiday” tour.  While doing so, we ran across a copy of Dale Carnegie’s classic book, “How to Win Friends and Influence People”, which was first published in 1936.  Prior to the publishing of the book, Dale Carnegie developed a business training course, which has been a global standard for business and personal growth training to this day.  The subject matter the book is described in the titles of each part.

  1. Part One: Fundamental Techniques in Handling People
  2. Part Two: Six Ways to Make People Like You
  3. Part Three: How to Win People to Your Way of Thinking
  4. Part Four: Be a Leader – How to Change People Without Giving Offense or Arousing Resentment

I vaguely remember reading the book as a teenager and decided to read it again.  Having just finished it with wiser eyes, I believe that much of the material sunk in thirty years ago and made a positive impression on the younger James. 

Dale Carnegie’s advice on interpersonal communication may be even more relevant today than it was 80 years ago.  Eighty years ago much of our business was done face-to-face, so the number of times people would physically interact with each other was greater than it is now.  In that sense, interpersonal communication was more widespread making his training very relevant.  However, given that more communications are impersonal and digital in nature, people have less natural tendency to develop people skills.  We can buy tissue paper from Amazon rather than going to our local store and coming face-to-face with the cashier.  Last week I saw a demonstration of a fully-automated grocery store where customers would never interact with business employees.  Business is increasingly being conducted between interfaces and not between people.  Without daily practice in meeting people, how can we develop people skills? 

Call me old fashion, but even in the modern digital economy, knowing how to talk to people in a respectful, engaging, and constructive way is an increasingly vital and rare skill.  Going out of your way to visit business associates and customers leaves a greater positive impression than it used to.  Handwritten notes are far more impressive than sending emails or texts.  Becoming more personally engaging with, customers, business associates, acquaintances, and friends will lead to better understanding and greater and personal and professional growth.  Sounds like a great new year’s resolution in the making.