Nine Suggestions on How to Get the Most Out of This Book

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1. If you wish to get the most out of this book, there is one indispensable requirement, one essential infinitely more important than any rule or technique. Unless you have this one fundamental requisite, a thousand rules on how to study will avail little. And if you do have this cardinal endowment, then you can achieve wonders without reading any suggestions for getting the most out of a book.

What is this magic requirement? Just this: a deep, driving desire to learn, a vigorous determination to increase your ability to deal with people.

How can you develop such an urge? By constantly reminding yourself of how important these principles are to you. Picture to yourself how their mastery will aid you in your race for leading a richer social and financial rewards. Say to yourself over and over: “My popularity, my happiness, and my income depend to no small extent upon my skill in dealing with people.”

2. Read each chapter rapidly at first to get a bird’s-eye view of it. You will probably be tempted then to rush on to the next one. But don’t. Unless you are reading merely for entertainment. But if you are reading because you want to increase your skill in human relations, then go back and re-read each chapter thoroughly. In the long run, this will mean saving time and getting results.

3. Stop frequently in your reading to think over what you are reading. Ask yourself just how and when you can apply each suggestion. This kind of reading will aid you far more than racing ahead like a whippet chasing a rabbit.

4. Read with a red crayon, pencil,  or fountain pen in your hand; and when you come across a suggestion that you feel you can use, draw a line beside it. If it is a four-star suggestion, then underscore every sentence, or mark it with “XXXX”. Marking and underscoring a book make it more interesting and far easier to review rapidly.

5. I know a man who has been office manager for a large insurance concern for fifteen years. He reads every month all the insurance contracts his company issues. Yes, he reads the same contracts over month after month, year after year. Why? Because experience has taught him that is the only way he can keep their provisions clearly in mind.

I once spent almost two years writing a book on public speaking; and yet I find I have to keep going back over it from time to time in order to remember what I wrote in my own book. The rapidity with which we forget is astonishing.

So, if you want to get real, lasting benefit out of this book, don’t imagine that skimming through it once will suffice. After reading it thoroughly, you ought to spend a few hours reviewing it every month. Keep it on your desk in front of you every day. Glance through it often. Keep constantly impressing yourself with the rich possibilities for improvement that still lie in the offing. Remember that the use of these principles can be made habitual and unconscious only by a constant and vigorous campaign of review and application. There is no other way.

6. Bernard Shaw once remarked: “If you teach a man anything, he will never learn.” Shaw was right. Learning is an active process. We learn by doing. So, if you desire to master the principles you are studying in this book, do something about them. Apply these rules at every opportunity. If you don’t, you will forget them quickly. Only knowledge that is used sticks in your mind.

You will probably find it difficult to apply these suggestions all the time. I know because I wrote the book, and yet I find it difficult to apply everything I have advocated. For example, when you are displeased, it is much easier to criticize and condemn than it is to try to understand the other person’s viewpoint. It is frequently easier to find fault than to find praise. It is more natural to talk about what you want than to talk about what the other person wants. And so on, So, as you read this book, remember that you are not merely trying to acquire information. You are attempting to form new habits. Ah yes, you are attempting a new way of life. That will require time and persistence and daily application.

So refer to these pages often. Regard this as a working handbook on human relations; and whenever you are confronted with some specific problem – such as handling a child, winning a wife to your way of thinking, or satisfying an irritated customer – hesitate about doing the natural thing, the impulsive thing. This is usually wrong. Instead, turn to these pages and review the paragraphs you have underscored. Then try these new ways and watch them achieve magic for you.

7. Offer your spouse, your son, or some business associate a dime or a dollar every time he or she catches you violating a certain principle. Make a lively game out of mastering these rules.

8. The president of an important Wall Street bank once described, in a talk before one of my classes, a highly efficient system he used for self-improvement. This man had little formal schooling, yet he is now one of the most important financiers in America, and he confessed that he owed most of his success to the constant application of his home-made system. This is what he does. I’ll put it in his own words as accurately as I can remember.

“For years I have kept an engagement book showing all the appointments I have during the day. My family never makes any plans for me on Saturday night, for the family knows that I devote a part of each Saturday evening to the illuminating process of self-examination and review and appraisal. After dinner I go off by myself, open my engagement book, and think over all the interviews, discussions and meetings that have taken place during the week. I ask myself:

“What mistakes did I make that time?”

“What did I do that was right – and in what way could I have improved my performance?”

“What lessons can I learn from that experience?”

“I often find that this weekly review makes me very unhappy. I am frequently astonished at my own blunders. Of course, as the years have gone by, these blunders have become less frequent. Sometimes now I am inclined to pat myself on the back a little after one of these sessions. This system of self-analysis, self-education, continued year after year, has done more for me than any other one thing I have ever attempted.

“It has helped me improve my ability to make decisions – and it has aided me enormously in all my contacts with people. I cannot recommend it too highly.”

Why not use a similar system to check up on your application of the principles discussed in this book? If you do, two things will result.

First, you will find yourself engaged in an educational process that is both intriguing and priceless.

Second, you will find that your ability to meet and deal with people will grow and spread like a green bay tree.

9. Keep a diary in which to record your triumphs in the application of these principles. Be specific. Give names, dates, results. Keeping such a record will inspire you to greater efforts; and how fascinating these entries will be when you chance upon them some evening years from now!

In order to get the most out of this book:

  1. Develop a deep, driving desire to master the principles of human relations
  2. Read each chapter twice before going on to the next one.
  3. As you read, stop frequently to ask yourself how you can apply each suggestion.
  4. Underscore each important idea.
  5. Review this book each month.
  6. Apply these principles at every opportunity. Use this volume as a working handbook to help you solve your daily problems.
  7. Make a lively game out of your learning by offering some friend a dime or a dollar every time he catches you violating one of these principles.
  8. Check up each week on the progress you are making. Ask yourself what mistakes you have made, what improvement, what lessons you have learned for the future.
  9. Keep a diary showing how and when you have applied these principles.