Q. I seem to have difficulty relating successfully with other people. Someone suggested I read Dale Carnegie's book, How to Win Friends and Influence People. I did but it seems a bit dated. Do you have anything more current to suggest?

A. To paraphrase Amazon.com, this grandfather of all people-skills books was first published in 1937. It has been reprinted several times because Carnegie had an understanding of human nature and an effective way of explaining his perspective. For example, he believed that financial success is 15% professional knowledge and 85% related to an ability to express ideas, to assume leadership, and to arouse enthusiasm among people. That's relatively timeless.

As far as something a bit more current, the concept of emotional intelligence wraps up much of what Carnegie tried to teach, just in slightly different language. It can help to focus your attention on becoming more actualized, differentiated, and functional; and on understanding, managing, and appropriately using the information provided to you by your emotions. Because what you say and do comes out of the fountain of who you are innately. You can learn from either resource, but put the two together and you likely get the best of both worlds. One caveat: it doesn't matter how good something is and how clearly it offers "tools" for you to use unless you do the work. It take practice and more practice to make those tools work for you hand-in-glove. As grandpa used to say: "Just sittin' on the bank won't put a fish on your hook. It takes a pile of castin' using worms you got up early to dig up." 

 

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