This book is a good source of guidance to those who use a “hard-line” approach when interacting with other people. I wouldn’t recommend it to people who aready have a soft approach or to those who want a balanced guide to human nature. The book suggests that to be liked you should be a good listener. But in truth, some times you need to be heard; you are entitled to be heard. To be liked you cannot let people push you around too much. Let’s face it, some people are bullies. Some times you need to speak loudly to be heard. Again, it’s about finding balance.
To get ahead, some times you need to show that you are worthy of respect. People may like you, but if they do not respect you, they will not follow you. The book recommends to always smile. But in truth, some times it pays to show disapproval. Some times it’s better to honestly show your emotions. Because hey, some times you are entitled to express anger and sadness. It can be downright frustrating when someone will not own up to how they are feeling.
Finally, this book teaches the art of manipulation. It doesn’t always own up to it, and it doesn’t explore the ethical implications. Yes, what you want may have benefits to another person, but perhaps there is another course of action which would better benefit them. There are occasions where it will be morally dubious to manipulate someone into doing something you want when there is an alternative option which better suits them. If another person discovers there were better alternative options, or even if they discover you have guided them to their decision without them being aware of it, this is likely to build resentment. People hate being used, manipulated and conned. People hate looking and feeling like a fool.
How To Win Friends attempts to provide an easy-fix to a complex array of human relationships. It provides many useful tips about how to influence with a “soft approach”, but I wouldn’t recommend following it word-for-word. Some times you need to be tough and some times gently manipulating people in unethical. Use your own judgment to decide when one of the tips will be helpful and ethical or whether you should try a different approach.