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Sunday, May 20, 2012

"How to Win Friends and Influence People in the Digital Age"

TITLE: How to Win Friends and Influence People in the Digital Age
AUTHOR: Dale Cargenie & Associates with Brent Cole
PUBLISHER: New York, NY: Simon & Schuster, 2011, (250 pages).
ISBN: 978-1-4516-1257-8

This book updates the 1936 classic, How to Win Friends and Influence People, which has since launched many self-help companies and revolutionized the motivational industry. It maintains the same 4-part emphasis. Part One comprises three essentials prior to engaging anybody. Part Two lists 6 ways in which one can make a lasting impression. Part Three gives us 10 ways to merit and maintain the trust of others. Part Four contains 8 ways to lead change with minimal resistance.

I was hoping for a readable version just like the original. Boy was I disappointed. While there are vivid stories and bullet points, the book looks rather disjointed. One literally has to keep the table of contents open frequently as a self-reminder of where the book is going.

The Plus Points

The preface is promising. It tells us that the world we live in now is technologically much different than Dale Cargenie's days. Messaging is speedier. Strategies have become more complex. The tools we have are non-existent in the 30s. Yet, the common skills are even more necessary.

  • Need to communicate well;
  • Selflessness is a virtue;
  • Learning to share with people, rather than becoming self-absorbed in one's needs
  • People follow us when they know we have done something for them
  • People follow us for who we really are.
  • Every medium matters
  • Good 'soft skills' are still needed
One important point is this:

"By relying so heavily on digital communication, we lose a critical aspect of human interactions: nonverbal cues. When delivering bad news, it is difficult to show compassion and support without putting your hand on another's shoulder. When exploring a new idea, it is difficult to convey the same level of enthusiasm through a phone call as you would if standing before your audience in person. How many times have you sent an email and had the recipient call you to clear the air when the air was already clear?" (xx)

The key to understanding this update is this: "In general, the best practice is a judicious blend of personal touch and digital presence." (xx)

My Thoughts

This book is not easy to summarize. It has too many pointers all over the place which makes me suspect that it has been rushed to print. Moreover, trying to stick to the original framework literally, it has done itself a disservice. What is more helpful is to redesign the entire concept with the digital era as the driving context. For instance, have a section that specifically deals with the instantaneous nature of digital communications. Dedicate chapters to deal with specific social media platforms. Like having one chapter solely on applying the principles to Facebook. Unfortunately, the book looks more like an old convertible simply repainted with a fresh coat of paint. It needs to be redesigned with new engines, new electronics, and new looks.

What I find most helpful is the back cover which provides 6 helpful ways to communicate in a digital era.
  1. Communicate tactfully: discover nuances on online mediums
  2. Be Likeable: Capitalize on social networks
  3. Be Persuasive in Speech: Project oneself widely and clearly
  4. Leading More Effectively: Convey competence in the new media
  5. Increase Ability to Get Things Done: Optimize the power of digital tools
I suppose this ups my rating from 2 to 3.

Ratings: 3 stars of 5


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