Sunday, December 29, 2013

Character or personality?

Calculated manipulation is incompatible with genuine friendship. From a review of the new biography of Dale Carnegie, author of the enormously influential How to Win Friends and Influence People, the text for an amoral approach to relationship and success.
.... Carnegie was born in 1888, and through his early life the nation experienced, in Watts's words, "not only massive industrialization, mass immigration, and the closing of the frontier but the rapid growth of a modern consumer economy." With economic and demographic transformation came an attendant shift in cultural values, as strict Victorian moral codes lost ground and "character" came to be seen as less important than "personality." ....

... Carnegie and the instructors he trained stressed positive thinking, pop psychology, and salesmanship, teaching that the key to success lay in knowing how to "handle" people properly.

.... Though panned by critics, who saw its worldview as cynical and manipulative, How to Win Friends and Influence People was an immediate sensation.... In chapters like "Fundamental Techniques in Handling People," "Six Ways to Make People Like You," and "Making People Glad to Do What You Want," Carnegie offered concrete advice in brisk, folksy, and inspirational prose. .... [more]