Johanna's spent the week finding out how to win friends and influence people – by being nice.
Johanna Basford is on a four-month sabbatical from paid work to concentrate on making herself a better artist, illustrator and all-round creative person.
Every week Johanna aims to publish a diary entry, which we'll be running on Digital Arts so you can follow the ups and downs – hopefully mainly ups – as she pushes her creativity and vision into new areas.
Without the constant distraction of a Kickstarter campaign to monitor, I managed to get a little reading done this week.
Dale Carnegie’s How to Win Friends and Influence People has a bit of a cult status amongst businessy types. Think of it as the Donnie Darko of the Self Help section.
First published in 1936, it reads like a kindly letter of advice from your Granda. The anecdotes and language set it firmly in a bygone era of gentile politeness and top hats. It’s less Steve Jobs, more President Lincoln.
Don’t let the somewhat sinister sounding title put you off though, it’s not an instruction manual on manipulation and deviousness. In fact, a far better title would have been How to be a Good Human.
Carnegie’s wise words on how to be approachable, how to handle confrontation, about diffusing situations and making the people who surround you happy, all effortlessly span the generation gap – as long as you think of it in a slightly different context: think letters and engagements instead of emails and tweets.
Put simply, if we all read his book and did as it said, I’m sure the world would be a much nicer place.
I wondered what a 21st Century version of his book would look like: what words of wisdom Carnegie would have on the perils of the hastily sent email, those anonymous blog comments and the havoc that can be wreaked with just 140 misjudged characters.
There’s a blossoming genre of books and blogs on the subject of online etiquette: how to tweet, when to LOL and whether it’s ever ok to poke a friend of a friend…
Personally, I’ve always thought it was simple: don’t say anything online you wouldn’t say in person. I’m going to be bold and say I think Carnegie would be with me on that one.
I think we should all read this book at least once. It would definitely make the world (and the Internet!) a better place. And who doesn’t want that?
You can keep your cut throat business tactics and your controversy, I think there’s value in being warm, polite, likeable and genuine.
The news of the death of ‘Nice’ has been greatly exaggerated.