How to Make Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie

Chapter 1: “If You Want to Gather Honey, Don’t Kick Over the Beehive”

Criticism is futile because it puts a person on the defense and usually makes him strive to justify himself…. It wound a person’ precious pride.

In “If You Want to Gather Honey, Don’t Kick Over the Beehive,” Carnegie attempts to share the lessons  he learned from research as well as from personal experience on criticizing and complaining to change behavior. He begins the chapter with examples of infamous individuals: Al Capone and Two Gun Crowley as well as scandals such the Tea Dome Oil to show that is it rare for individuals to consider their own actions as wrong or unfair. Carnegie writes, “ninety-nine times out of a hundred, people don’t criticize themselves.” If a wrongdoer feels an action was fair, imagine how he would feel if someone else criticized or condemn him? Seyle, a psychologist offers, “As much as we thirst for approval, we dread condemnation.”

Carnegie also includes examples of managers attempting to change workers’ behavior with threat and complaint to no avail. Yet, when the managers changed to provide encouragement, the employees responded by implementing the manager’s request. Carnegie suggests that criticism does not make “lasting changes,” in contrast; it often results in long-term resentment. This leads to …

Principle 1: Don’t criticize, condemn, or complain

Realize that the person we are going to correct and condemn will probably justify himself or herself, and condemn us in return.

Carnegie points out, we as human, may not feel that we have done anything wrong. He even suggests that many wrongdoers “blam[e] everybody but themselves.”

How Can You Apply it in Your Life?

Carnegie offers, “Instead of condemning people, let’s try to understand them. Let’s try to figure out why they do what they do.”

In one of the workshops I attended, my trainer made a comment that has remained with me since that class: “Each person makes the best choice at the time.” At first, I wanted to challenge this, but then I thought about it and applied the concept to some of my choices, some which were not so great.  At the time, it was the best choice for what I wanted. Once I realized that some of my actions I thought were good choices could have been criticized, I started applying this concept to those around me. You can too: Take the approach that “the person made the best choice at the time” is a step in trying to understand them instead of simply condemning them.

Another suggestion

“Don’t complain about the snow on your neighbor’s roof,” said Confucius, “When you own doorstep is unclean.”

Carnegie suggests that before trying to change someone, we should begin with ourselves:  “it is much more profitable…and a lot less dangerous.”

Final Quote

Any fool can criticize, condemn, and complain – and most fools do.

But it takes character and self-control to be understanding and forgiving

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