Thinking Parallel

A Blog on Parallel Programming and Concurrency by Michael Suess


This article is different. If you have read my post on new years resolutions, you know why. In Germany, we have a saying that (roughly translated) says: “to look over the edge of your plate”. My dictionary tells me to translate it into: “to think out of the box” – which basically means to look beyond your usual horizon and think about different fields than you usually do. I want to do just that by talking about a book I recently read here. It has nothing to do with parallelism, optimization or even software development. But before I try convincing you that it’s topic is important anyways, I will try to let it’s author, Dale Carnegie, speak for himself:

These investigations revealed that even in such technical lines as engineering, about 15 percent of one’s financial success is due to one’s technical knowledge and about 85 percent is due to skill in human engineering – to personality and the ability to lead people.

The book I would like to talk about today is about just that – human interactions and how to master them. It is called How to Win Friends & Influence People.

Thats an amazing figure, isn’t it? We are so used to thinking in terms of solving technical problems, yet it seems this is not what makes people successful. We spend so much time reading or talking technical issues that it’s sometimes very easy to forget how important the people we work with, negotiate with, meet or even love everyday are. I would like to change that for me, personally, and therefore I am using this post as my personal reminder of what valuable lessons on how to improve my interactions with other people this very special book by Dale Carnegie has to tell.

This is not a book-review. I am not going to tell you anything about the author or that the book is basically a collection of mostly funny little stories to bring the main points across (ups, I guess I already did :P). Instead, I am going to take the easy route and just put down the most important points Carnegie makes in the book for you to enjoy and for me to remember them better. So here they go:

Fundamental Techniques in Handling People

  • Don’t criticize, condemn or complain.
  • Give honest and sincere appreciation.
  • Arouse in the other person an eager want.

Six Ways to Make People Like You

  • Become genuinely interested in other people.
  • Smile.
  • Remember that a person’s name is to that person the sweetest and most important sound in any language.
  • Be a good listener. Encourage others to talk about themselves.
  • Talk in terms of the other person’s interest.
  • Make the other person feel important – and do it sincerely.

How to Win People to Your Way of Thinking

  • The only way to get the best of an argument is to avoid it.
  • Show respect for the other person’s opinions. Never say, “You are wrong.”
  • If you are wrong, admit it quickly and emphatically.
  • Begin in a friendly way.
  • Get the other person saying “yes, yes” immediately.
  • Let the other person do a great deal of the talking.
  • Let the other person feel that the idea is his or hers.
  • Try honestly to see things from the other person’s point of view.
  • Be sympathetic with the other person’s ideas and desires.
  • Appeal to the nobler motives.
  • Dramatize your ideas.
  • Throw down a challenge.

Be a leader

  • Begin with praise and honest appreciation.
  • Call attention to the people’s mistakes indirectly.
  • Talk about your own mistakes before criticizing the other person.
  • Ask questions instead of giving direct orders.
  • Let the other person save face.
  • Praise the slightest improvement and praise every improvement. Be “hearty in your approbation and lavish in your praise.”
  • Give the other person a fine reputation to live up to.
  • Use encouragement. Make the fault seem easy to correct.
  • Make the other person happy about doing the thing you suggest.

Some of these were no news to me, since I have been influenced by Tom DeMarco’s and Timothy Listers books on project management for quite some time (especially Peopleware, which I finished reading a second time a little while ago). But others I had not taken to my heart, yet. Of course I cannot judge how much they make sense to you without knowing the book, but since its not that expensive I have no problem recommending everyone to go get yourself a copy. It will be time and money well spent.

Want to read more “out of the box”? Or would you rather like me to stick to the stuff I have written about before? Have anything to add to this article? Or maybe you think all this is useless and will only keep you from doing the technical things you like most? Don’t hesitate to tell me and leave a comment!

5 Responses to Softskills


  1. Comment by Philippe Chaintreuil | 2007/02/27 at 15:26:45

    The past tense of “to read” (verb) is “read”, not “red” as I’ve seen you use in a couple posts.

    It’s pronouncedly “reed” when in present tense, but “red” in past tense. It’s spelled the same either way though.

  2. Comment by Michael Suess | 2007/02/27 at 15:39:03

    Philippe: these are the most embarrassing errors to fix *blush*. Thanks for catching them, very much appreciated!

  3. Comment by Paul | 2007/02/27 at 20:09:14

    I’ve never noticed and spelling mistakes, but how ’bout some more of everyones favorite(sic): OpenMP!!! 🙂

    OpenMP vs. UPC?

  4. Comment by Michael Suess | 2007/02/28 at 11:22:27

    Paul, don’t worry, my next article will be about OpenMP again. I am not forgetting the roots of this blog 🙂

  5. Comment by Martin | 2007/03/13 at 18:48:42

    It is a interesting article.

Comments are closed