Gerald Weinberg On How To Win Friends And Influence People

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There was a copy of the book in our house when I was ten years old. At that age, I read everything in the house, so I read it. I wasn't impressed. Not only wasn't I impressed, but I was utterly disgusted. For forty years, I gratuitously expressed my contempt when anyone even mentioned DaleCarnegie or his book.

A few years ago, while holed up in a hunting lodge near the Rawah Wilderness of Colorado, waiting out a three-day rainstorm, I found a battered copy of HowToWinFriendsAndInfluencePeople. I decided it would be amusing to read it as a measure of how I had changed in forty years.

Eager for some quick results, I turned immediately to the lists of principles that summarize sections of the book. When I saw rules such as "Smile" or "Make the other person feel important -- and do it sincerely," I became violently angry.

Why become angry? Those rules reminded me of a rule I was supposed to learn from the greatest hypocrite I've ever known:

Always be sincere (whether you mean it or not).

To me, people who learn to win friends or influence other people through memorized rules are practicing the lowest form of hypocritical deception, and I want nothing to do with them. The second worst thing in the world for me was to read a book that taught such rules. The worst thing, of course, would be to write such a book.

Survival Rules

I was so angry, I almost put the book down for another forty years; but since it was the only book in the lodge, I persisted. I'm glad I did.

What changed my mind was reading the book from the front, as the author has intended. The first thing I noticed was that regardless of the motives of his 15,000,000 readers, Carnegie himself was obviously sincere. Even though he never met me, he gave me the feeling that he really did want to help me win friends and influence people.

Apparently something in me had changed in forty years, because I didn't feel that way when I was ten years old.


Thus, it's easy to understand why I had another rule that said,

Beware of anybody who tries to teach you universal truths.

This rule was the source of much of the anger that interfered with my acceptance of DaleCarnegie's leadership.



Certain rules are doubly important, like my rule that says to beware of anybody who tries to teach you universal truths. It's doubly important because it is a rule about rules, or a meta-rule. Meta-rules control the flow of ideas about rules, and thus determine how readily we can learn new rules, or unlearn old ones. Therefore, the meta-rules determine how easily we can change the way we interact with others.

By age ten, I was already in the grips of my meta-rule, so I never took well to DaleCarnegie's book, or his workshops, or to anybody else's books or workshops that deal with human interaction. Before I could change the way I interacted with other people, I had to learn how to unearth my survival rules and my meta-rules, and how to transform them -- if I wanted to.

From ''BecomingaTechnicalLeader by GeraldWeinberg''

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