The eternal pessimist has reared its ugly head. Many people may accuse me of projecting my failures in the social sphere on parties that have little or no impact. My derision spans from many types of people including automatons, undiagnosed people on the spectrum, rednecks, and idiots. But the people I prefer to focus on lately are those that give bad advice. Of these “bad advice givers” are Dale Carnegie.
I have every reason to believe that Dale Carnegie meant well. He saw great things in people of lesser and great means. He brought up actionable things that would make sense, but this is where my praise stops. A large portion of what he prescribes no longer is tangible, it even has negative results in our current time in the western world.
I had originally wanted to title this piece of work: “The Folly of the Friendly Way and Offering A Smile”. This is mostly from the two sections of his book; “Begin In A Friendly Way” and “Smile”.
I believe that these two pieces of advice are no longer helpful. Many “Appalachian-Americans”, coming from an engrained belief of pride, coupled with those southerners that were brainwashed by westerns, hold a great amount of distrust in those that present “friendly”.
With this lens, one has to find the folly of Dale Carnegie’s ideas that you can win friends and influence people. His fourth principle: “Being In A Friendly Way” can steer you into oblivion. His example was Rockefeller’s warm speech to the representatives of a miners strike at many of Colorado Fuel and Iron Company’s operations. His supposed warm speech is what earned their respect. I have no doubt that a good speech can soften a hard heart, but the truth lies in that Rockefeller was a titan and the men knew it. He had the resources to have people killed as he had already had troops do so. (If you need a reference, read about the Ludlow Massacre, part of the Colorado Coalfield War).
This wasn’t out of mutual respect. Rockefeller was a bigwig in the company that cut their checks, these people knew that he also didn’t mind that private security and the National Guard “handled business”. Without offense, this was about money.
This is especially true in our time and place in this universe. You don’t make friends with the boss. You respect his ability to have you fired (or wiped off the planet).
Somewhat related, many people I have worked with think suspiciously when you remember things that they said to you. Not their sexual mores but simple things like remembering when they were looking for (x) product. I made this error, bringing up that I had seen something for sale that they had been interested in or trying to buy for a loved one for a birthday. I received the same slack jawed, blank look I often get. If the positions were switched, I would have said “thanks” at least.
One could argue that my brute strength or angry machinations had made them scared previously but my simple considerate talk should be able to punch through. (If one uses Carnegie’s logic).
Back up and punt when it comes to Carnegie’s advice.
The second part “Smile” should be relatively evident. You should smile to try to defuse uneasiness and show people you are pleasant. I found this to be somewhat true. People treat you like you are up to something if you smile. Like you are sending a weighted gesture. Think “used car salesman”. Many of the people among me would grimace or stare when presented with people smiling. A level of automatic distrust. I am unsure of how this became a thing, but someone told me that it had to be something about the remnants of “low trust” cultures of the past converging with changing social issues from the technological world.
In the past, everyone loved seeing a happy face. Tons of songs had been made, highlighted in movies and musicals. I love a beautiful smile on a woman. Most people did in Carnegie’s days. But people don’t feel the same way today. There is something behind a smile that is troubling.
To keep me from typing 1000 words and destroying your day; I know that people crow on and on about How To Win Friends & Influence People. It is always brought up as some ultimate example of how a man is supposed to win but I find it to be broken. We need a deeper and updated version of how a person can be better and professional. It hasn’t been written yet.