How to win friends and then piss them off

Mr F (my 17-year old son and hero) is reading How To Win Friends and Influence People. That alone shows he’s a chip off the old block in that it’s totally uncool to read a self-help book written, what, 80 years ago? But he seems to be lapping it all up and good on him, there wouldn’t be a 17 year old boy alive who wouldn’t be improved by taking on some of Mr Carnegie’s maxims.

For instance, this one (as paraphrased by me):

“Nobody is interested in YOU.  They’re interested in themselves. So to make people like you, YOU have to be interested in THEM.’

So that’s why I’m so popular (see I know these things instinctively).  No really, that’s so true, and many an internet dater would do well to remember it (only, then you can get those awkward situations, you know “So what are YOU interested in?” , “Oh me! Let’s not talk about that, you tell me what YOU’RE interested in!”.  Alright WTF let’s talk about me then.

UNTIL I get to the point where I don’t want the person to like me.  Say, I don’t particularly like THEM, or, I get bored, or other things seem more important, like spending time with ME.  The thing is,well-balanced people don’t always want to be popular, with everyone, all the time.  Sometimes we’re happy to be unpopular.

Still…when you’re a nerdy teenager you generally DO want to be more popular and I just wish I’d read that book THEN, when I was nice.

The most important word in anyone’s life is THEIR NAME

Good point. I forget names. I forget faces. Last weekend I called Neighbour 1 (who I’ve known for 2 years) by Neighbour 2’s name. She was gracious about it (she pretended she didn’t hear).  I also tried to remember my work colleagues’ names by giving them little adjectives ‘Nearly Pregnant Nina’, ‘Knitting Belinda’.  Only problem – when Belinda (who inexplicably seemed to spend hours at work sitting in the tea room making blankets) put down her needles, I didn’t have a clue who she was. No no, you’re Knitting Belinda – go back and Knit!

The funny thing (well one of them) about DC’s seminal tome is that he keeps referring to people by name and location, as in ‘Mrs Elsie P. Higginbottom of Hicksville, Carolina, related the following story..’.  Sweet!  Hardly anyone wants to be named and shamed in a self-help book these days – obviously there are easier ways to get famous, like botoxing your eight year old.



  1. God! I have had a fairly high profile business for the last 26 years (don’t get too excited, think medium-large fish in a small pond!) and I keep having people come up to me and say “remember when I used to work for you?” and I wanna say “Remember when you used to work for me? Hell no I don’t remember when you used to work for me! Who the f*%k are you anyway?!!!!!” But I don’t, cuz I’m nice…but remember their name, that is so effing important…..nawwwwww!

    1. Don’t get excited? I’m already thrilled! Businesspeople of any kind thrill me, cause I’m not brave enough or extrovert enough. It would be nice if I could remember people AND their names – but it’s not going to happen I guess.

  2. Do a lot of people have trouble remembering names? I thought I was the odd one for a long time and totally self conscious about it. I *really* hate not remembering someone’s name. It sticks with me way too long. Argh.

    1. Just about everyone has trouble remembering them. You know the ones who don’t because they say things like ‘Hi ROSE, how are you doing today, ROSE’. I also have a bit of face blindness (or maybe I’m just dopey) – I don’t remember one person from another that well either, if they don’t stick out – ie have pink hair or something. Woe betide me if a pink haired person changes her hair colour.

  3. i prefer friends coming to me and then i try to keep that friendship alive if i think that we have chances of staying friends for long time. 🙂

    i was never too eager to have large number of friends or adorers.

    1. Me neither really. I value my own time a lot – that’s being an introvert – and I don’t like it if I have to see people all the time and then I can’t do stuff I like – reading, writing, just hanging out with me. But ideally I’d like lots of adorers who would just adore from afar,quietly.

  4. I enjoyed that book as a teenager too. It’s good to know what to do to make friends. And when you need people to go away you just reverse engineer it. 😉

    I am horrible with names. Faces I always remember. But names. Ugh. If I write a name down though, I usually remember it. But then I look like a reporter at parties. 😉

  5. At the risk of sounding like a spammer, this post struck a chord with me at almost every point. I’m going to reply point by point because I’m organized like that. (Not really.)
    – This is the second time within the past five days that somebody has mentioned How to Win Friends and Influence People, so I may have to listen to what the universe is trying to tell me and grab a copy.
    – People really do get touchy over names. I was directing a play with a Kristin and a Trystan in the cast, and I kept getting their names mixed up. I also did the same thing with my wife’s girlfriends Jordan and Morgan, especially after a few drinks. They would all get so mad at me for mixing up their names, but I get it honest. My Oma still calls me by my dad or my uncle’s name every time she sees me. (Might be the Alzheimer’s though.)
    – One of my friends says she uses descriptors to remember who people are, but she forgets their names, so she toyed with the idea of calling by their descriptors. I was more than a little scared to hear how she labeled me.
    Okay, that’s all I’ve got. Thanks for a stimulating post, and I loved the video.

    1. So how DID she label you? I bet if people are going round with descriptors of me it’s things like ‘chick who goes round like her head’s in the clouds’ and ‘dopey looking woman with weird shoes’.

  6. OK, LAUGHING. I liked the video too. Actually, the foundation of what i do for work is based on the interests, rights power model. We are mediators. Interests is the the core of our work … so as silly as it seems, to help folks get along in the workplace (Unions and Employers) we teach these principles. Somehow, playing to one’s interests has the after-effect, or benefit of feeling, or becoming more natural. Most disputes come out of ME ME ME thinking. So, if for just a moment these guys and gals can think about someone ELSE for one second, they often have better work relationships and less grievances filed. Amen. End of sermon here.

    in my personal life, I cannot remember names either. In fact i have sometimes called people by the names i make up for them. The chick with all the fed ex post-its on her mail box. I don’t actually CALL her that … i simply say, “hi, are the chick with all the post-its on your mail box? Why don’t you go pick up your packages.” See, i’ve engaged AND pissed her off in one fell swoop! Principles my dear, Principles.

    Interests: ME! 😉

    1. A mediator’s such a great thing to be! Yeah you’re right. Sometimes in discussions with friends about what to do about, say, a difficult ex or something, I say ‘think of it from their perspective, think what THEY want’ – it could be sort of manipulative but if you want access to your kids, or to be treated decently, or whatever, that’s how you’ve got to think – how does ‘what I want’ fit into ‘what they want’. Of course, I’m not good at doing this in my OWN life. Anyway, pissing people off is an important part of life, you wouldn’t want your epitaph to be ‘pissed NO ONE off, EVER’ now would you! Love the story about the fed-ex girl.

      1. In Union business. the INTEREST-based negotiations are key, or you’re stuck with a bunch of whining wankers!!!!!

  7. I think they showed us that video in high school and we were supposed to learn something from it… end of thought. Which was often the result of much of what I was supposed to learn in high school, and I tend to think of that time in my life as my “end of thought” era.

    Except for our gym teacher Mr. Walsh, who taught us that we were supposed to laugh like wild hyenas whenever anybody got hurt. I know that I had some thoughts about that, as I thought ‘this is really effed up!’ but still laughing anyway, cause the other guys were, and so who was I to get all self righteous and go promoting compassion on their asses?

    Besides, look what happened to Jesus after going around and going on about that sort of thing! And yes, kids used to get crucified at my high school frequently, so I was just showing some street smarts on that one.

      1. Lol. I’d only say that to you, Chris – in my world (Fairyland) people are executed for less. No really, dumb stuff just rolls off the top of my head. Probably that trepanning-gone-wrong incident in my childhood.

    1. Bet they didn’t show you THAT one though – it’s a spoof. We had some very enlightened teachers at high school too – some of them thought the best way to be popular with the kids was to get down and bully with them, others’d lecture us on whatever they believed in and then get indignant if anyone disagreed. And yeah, Jesus is a lesson to all of us – hanging round with prossies and bogans probably didn’t help either. But my son tends to be a bit Attila-ish, so any addition to his social skills is welcome.

      1. What? Are you trying to show me up now? I say I wouldn’t know how to reply… and you have to just jump right in there and make it look as easy as can be! Well I just hope you’re happy now, Rose, making me feel so inept and insecure!

        After this crushing blow to my self esteem, I probably won’t the confidence to reply again for many seconds! Or even several minutes!!!


      2. No worries cause I’m over it now. And hey, don’t feel bad, cause my trepanning didn’t go well either. They kept breaking their trephines trying to make the hole, and finally just gave up – so I’ve just had to deal with life as best I can, without a hole in my head.

      3. You said “bogans”! 🙂 This makes me happy because it’s my new Aussie word of the week and I got to see you use it in a sentence. Last week’s new Aussie word was “feral women”, which I liked even better, and yes I know that’s two words, but I already knew the second one. But “feral women” seems really cool, cause I can just picture them running around in animal skins and acting really wild and very undomesticated.

  8. So glad I’m not the only one ignorant of neighbors’ names. I know I should be better about these things, but there is always so much else to do…

      1. Well, you’re ahead of me then. At least you know the names. And put them together, you get Ann Margaret. Sorry, that wasn’t even funny, but sometimes my fingers type before my brain thinks… 🙂

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