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How do you interact with "normal" people in everyday life?

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This is an issue that's been bothering me for a while. I'm in high school, where literally everyone is caught up in others' opinions and either fitting in or standing out. I didn't really get into individualism at all until last year, and I have no feelings toward many of the people I considered great friends when I was younger. It doesn't really bother me that there aren't any individualistic people at school since i can't control it and it doesn't exactly affect me, but I'm unsure of how to exist at school and home. I'm sure everyone here has had this type of experience, so I'm wondering how you handle it. I have to be there for 7 hours a day, but I'm not really sure what to do. The work is boring and the people are just a swarm of Keatings. I'm going on a foreign exchange after this school year, so it's not a real pressing issue atm, but it's something I expect to be dealing with for the rest of my life.

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Your situation is indeed a common one. Socializing at any stage of life is a challenge for the true individual. My recommendation is likely one that you have already arrived at, that is, immerse yourself in your studies independent of outside influences. You have the opportunity to become whomever you decide to be, provided you stay the course. Foreign exchange? Sounds fantastic. Enjoy all that it and all of the other learning experiences that you can encounter.

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My recommendation is likely one that you have already arrived at, that is, immerse yourself in your studies independent of outside influences.

No, that isn't a way of handling it, that just pushes the issue back and hides it. What to do? Talk to some people, go to places you like that have multiple people. How do you know if someone is really a Keating, anyway? You have to talk to them.

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Most people are boring, but not everyone is, and that doesn't mean they aren't individualists. Learn how to communicate and befriend such people while seeking out those who can really challenge and inspire you intellectually. I recommend How to Win Friends and Influence People as a good primer.

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Personally, when people ask me to help them in some classes in school I tell them:

 

"So, you are asking for my help in order to complete something you have to do yourself, what do I earn in this deal? I gain nothing from your looting of my effort, and you earn nothing for being a parasite, Stop Being a Parasite"

 

I give advice for a few of my friends who are victims of Bullying, I tell them to be more selfish and that sort of thing and I justify it, and I go into debates with my professors in defence of Capitalism and so on. It can be boring to deal with people, I must admit, but it is interesting to study their philosophies.

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Leandro Tomas Cuadra,

Your approach has my full approval.

 

No, that isn't a way of handling it, that just pushes the issue back and hides it. What to do? Talk to some people, go to places you like that have multiple people. How do you know if someone is really a Keating, anyway? You have to talk to them.

Why does Alex have to talk to them? It doesn't sound as if it's a problem, (or "issue") for him. At no point would I even advise against talking to people as a casual practice for practical reasons. But if Alex doesn't really recognize anything in common with his peers, he may as well spend his time developing his mind to the best possible results.

 

Most people are boring, but not everyone is, and that doesn't mean they aren't individualists. Learn how to communicate and befriend such people while seeking out those who can really challenge and inspire you intellectually. I recommend How to Win Friends and Influence People as a good primer.

 

I've read the Dale Carnegie "classic." Twice, in fact. It is for sales-reps and promotes an American-Machiavellian approach to philosophy. If you're running for political office or need to manipulate people, it is must-read material. If you're goal is to maintain your individualism through early adulthood, master the skills of your chosen profession, and the second-handers will come to you like metal shavings to a magnet.

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Personally, when people ask me to help them in some classes in school I tell them:

 

"So, you are asking for my help in order to complete something you have to do yourself, what do I earn in this deal? I gain nothing from your looting of my effort, and you earn nothing for being a parasite, Stop Being a Parasite"

 

This is so silly.

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Why does Alex have to talk to them? It doesn't sound as if it's a problem, (or "issue") for him. At no point would I even advise against talking to people as a casual practice for practical reasons. But if Alex doesn't really recognize anything in common with his peers, he may as well spend his time developing his mind to the best possible results.

Have to? No, but it isn't wise to assume people are Keatings as a reason to not speak to them. They might not be. It's fine to not be interested, but whether or not the reasons are good is a separate issue. The choice is for attaining value, social interaction doesn't mean any loss to bettering yourself, so "developing one's mind" is actually not mutually exclusive. If you don't like a person, it's just a drain. If a person ends up valuable to you, it isn't a value drain or even preventing development of your mind.

 

Mere immersion in other interests can sometimes be rationalizing being anti-social, and ends up only exacerbating isolation. Calling people Keatings can be a form of rationalization too, but it might also be correct. For me, I cope with intellectual differences by not worrying about it, while talking to people if they seem interesting. I don't have prejudice towards how they might be. Still, I don't talk a lot since I am introverted, so I do my own thing anyway, but it's not because I think all/most people are second-handers.

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Focus on the good in people and shared values.

 

Some of them may be good to have as drinking buddies, or for talking sports. Others may offer a more interesting intellectual exchange.  If you're lucky you'll find a few that are exceptionally good within their chosen field (those people are worth their weight in gold almost no matter what).

 

Next, you should lead by example and promote your values (note, promoting your values does not mean showing Atlas down their throats). Ask yourself how you like to interact with people and what kind of social environment you like to be in. Show that to the people around you and guide them towards that. Show them whats important to you, what makes you tick, your passion and enthusiasm for whatever excites you.

 

Those who share something in common with you will gravitate towards you

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I've read the Dale Carnegie "classic." Twice, in fact. It is for sales-reps and promotes an American-Machiavellian approach to philosophy. If you're running for political office or need to manipulate people, it is must-read material. If you're goal is to maintain your individualism through early adulthood, master the skills of your chosen profession, and the second-handers will come to you like metal shavings to a magnet.

 

What is the evidence behind your assertion that HTWFAIP is "for sales-reps"? I don't remember seeing that anywhere in the book or in Carnegie's other writings. On what do you base your assertion that it "promotes an American-Machiavellian approach"? What does that even mean?

 

I guess if you consider not being a douche to people or taking an interest in them (Carnegie goes so far as to say "genuine interest") to be manipulation, as opposed to blurting out your true feelings to everyone in every situation, then yes, the book recommends "manipulation." I'd call it learning productive social behaviors.

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In the end, every person discovers who they are, and how much socializing achieves the best state of mind for them. Friends are a value, a value one earns, and on occasion may wish to keep. Most friendly relations are fleeting. If one is the type that needs less human interaction than intellectual stimulation, that person should not have to feel pressured into "being one of the cool people," or anything like that. Indeed, one, two, or a few choice friends makes life more worth live for, but for less sociable people, I want you to know that it's just as cool to be on your own. It is much better to be right and alone, than to be everyone's buddy. There are some people who have both great social skills and exceptional technical skills. We can't all be one of those people.

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I guess if you consider not being a douche to people or taking an interest in them (Carnegie goes so far as to say "genuine interest") to be manipulation, as opposed to blurting out your true feelings to everyone in every situation, then yes, the book recommends "manipulation." I'd call it learning productive social behaviors.

It looks to me as if you've answered your own question. The book offer very little on the fundamentals of right and wrong. Most of us know better than to "blurt out" our true feelings, but if it's a matter of speaking truth to power, some times it's better to loose some of those friends.

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It looks to me as if you've answered your own question. The book offer very little on the fundamentals of right and wrong. Most of us know better than to "blurt out" our true feelings, but if it's a matter of speaking truth to power, some times it's better to loose some of those friends.

 

The book was never intended to be a moral treatise, so knocking it for not living up to that standard is really silly. It's a practical guide to reducing conflict, seeking mutually beneficial outcomes, and being socially successful. That's it. It is also not meant to be a book about "speaking truth to power," although the book does make the point that there are ways to do so while maximizing one's chances for having a successful impact instead of only hardening positions.

 

Most people, in fact, don't know how to productively resolve social conflicts, and they do blurt out what's on their minds too often for their own good. Worse, most people who have this problem don't realize they have it. This is why personality conflicts consistently rank as one of the top problems businesses have with their employees. I see people counterproductively complaining and criticizing each other nearly every day.

 

Neither of my questions has been answered, so I repeat, what is your evidence for claiming the book is "for sales-reps" or that it "promotes an American-Machiavellian approach"? Please be specific.

Edited by Robert Baratheon

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 yes, the book recommends "manipulation." I'd call it learning productive social behaviors.

The book recommends manipulation. Period. You answered your own question. Call it managing people's expectations, or some other euphemism for manipulation; it's still manipulation. Manipulation is perfectly reasonable advise for the ambitious businessman, or a slick politician. And when honesty gets in the way, To Hell with It!

 

Here lies the body of William Jay,

Who died defending his right of way,

He was dead, dead right as he sped along,

But he's dead, just as dead, as if he were wrong.

-Dale Carnegie, from How to Win Friends and Influence People

 

It's silly that people should think that principles don't matter. No one wants to wind up as a dead hero. But usually people don't get killed for telling the truth, although they may get fired. Principles are so skewered in our places of business, that it has a chilling effect. Everyone's doing it, so it must be alright. It's the same kind of peer-pressure that distracts young people from accomplishments through virtue of their integrity and better judgement. You may wonder why America has such a convoluted sense of morality. Well, I don't; I'm quite sure it has to do with the "win-at-all-costs"* approach to everything from athletics and accounting, all the way to the White House. And while all of those "self-help" books that used to have titles, such as Leadership Principles of Attila the Hun, were popular and arguably entertained some people, reading a book is hardly a way to actually get out and meet people. As for individuals who risk their social status with outbursts of emotion, that is not the same as expressing a well-thought-through responds to some of the short-sighted policies that pass for leadership these days. The heroes in Rand's stories didn't give a rat's ass about social status. And they didn't have emotional outbursts, they allow the fraud of cronyism to expose itself.

 

*You may apply this as the "American-Machiavellian" approach.

Edited by Repairman

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The book recommends manipulation. Period. You answered your own question. Call it managing people's expectations, or some other euphemism for manipulation; it's still manipulation. Manipulation is perfectly reasonable advise for the ambitious businessman, or a slick politician. And when honesty gets in the way, To Hell with It!

 

You're playing word games by parroting the cop-out "you answered your own question." Please don't do it again.

 

I do not agree that the book recommends "manipulation" as most commonly understand the term. For example, dictionary.com defines manipulation as "to manage or influence skillfully, especially in an unfair manner." The book teaches social skills, including the skill of influencing others, but nothing in the book recommends behaving toward others unfairly or deviously. In fact, the book recommends seeking areas of mutual gain.

 

I'm asking you to answer two very straightforward and specific questions about your claims, so please answer them or admit that you cannot because you're talking nonsense.

 

Repeated now for the third time, the questions are:

 

1) What is your evidence for claiming the book is "for sales-reps"?

2) What is your evidence for claiming the book "promotes an American-Machiavellian approach?

 

I dispute much in the rest of your post, but since you repeatedly seize upon every tangent and opportunity to evade my request, I'm not going to pursue any other lines of inquiry until you give something resembling a response.

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OK,

Question 1) You'll find it as #16 on this sight. I'm sure I could find more, I suppose:

 

http://saleshq.monster.com/training/articles/2426-20-best-business-and-sales-books

 

2) The idea,  that of  "Winning Friends and Influencing People" is in itself a process of gaining power. Power-for-the-sake-of-power is generally thought of as an over-simplification for Machiavellian methods.

I suppose you want something more specific than this, or maybe...

Oh! Robert, you are so right.
Forgive my expressions of independent thought. It was so brutish of me. Will you be my friend now?

Edited by Repairman

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OK,

Question 1) You'll find it as #16 on this sight. I'm sure I could find more, I suppose:

 

http://saleshq.monster.com/training/articles/2426-20-best-business-and-sales-books

 

2) The idea,  that of  "Winning Friends and Influencing People" is in itself a process of gaining power. Power-for-the-sake-of-power is generally thought of as an over-simplification for Machiavellian methods.

I suppose you want something more specific than this, or maybe...

Oh! Robert, you are so right.

Forgive my expressions of independent thought. It was so brutish of me. Will you be my friend now?

 

What a load of crap. The same list contains "The Art of War" by Sun Tzu, a book about cult leader Jim Jones, and "The Game" by Neil Strauss. These books were in no way written "for sales-reps" just because they have business applications, which I never denied. The site author even states, "More than 70 years later it is still the go-to-guide for developing advanced 'people skills.'" Note: not "business skills" and not "manipulation."

 

The book doesn't promote "power for the sake of power." I don't even know where you are getting this stuff - it sure doesn't originate from between the two covers, as evidenced by your total lack of examples or text support. The point is to improve the quality of one's life by gaining valuable skills, not seizing power.

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2) The idea,  that of  "Winning Friends and Influencing People" is in itself a process of gaining power. Power-for-the-sake-of-power is generally thought of as an over-simplification for Machiavellian methods.

I'm more inclined to listen to Robert on this one. I never read the book, so what is Machiavellian about it? I'm interested because it is pretty common from my experience with others for kindness/benevolence to be treated as a sacrifice of self to others. It might not be a virtue, but usually it is good to be open to talking to others. Effective communication isn't about saying the "right things", it's about seeking to be understood. It's a skill to be direct yet also fair and just. That's as opposed to "social manipulation" to get what you want at any cost.

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Robert and Eioul,

While I'd admit that it is a subjective response to reviewing this famous book, it is my opinion. I provided the evidence of which I was challenged for the first question. And Niccolo Machiavelli was not at all a bad guy. The implication that his advise was evil, or devious, is as much a matter of abuse by other authors. Dale Carnegie's advise is quite popular with many salespersons today, as it has been for as many years as it was originally published. Robert, you are not even disputing that fact. You want some sort of retraction for offending your preferences in popular culture. I'm merely pointing out that that which is popular is not necessarily beneficial for everyone, nor is it popular with everyone. The topic of the OP relates to one young man's angst over being more outgoing. I made several statements clarifying my position on this matter, and now you want to turn it into the "stop denigrating Dale Carnegie, or I'll bash you like like the anti-social curmudgeon that you are!" Well, Robert, if this is your idea of "winning friends and influencing people", I can only imagine what the people in your work-place are saying about you.

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I couldn't care less what your opinion of Carnegie is or whether you bash his work. What I can't stand is misrepresentation of others, such as claiming HTWFAIP recommends "manipulation" or "power for the sake of power." This is absolute nonsense, illustrated by your complete lack of examples and horrendous reasoning (e.g., the Art of War being a book for salespeople, apparently).

Please don't equate what I do online anonymously with what I do in my professional or social life. Totally different environments. There is a time, a place, and a manner for all things.

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Chill out, Robert,

The book hasn't got any much more than advising about remembering peoples' names and nodding your head in agreement to whatever they say, regardless of how wrong they are. I'm sure I do that to people quite often in real life as well. But you're taking a tone as if you think there is something deeply disturbing about one man's interpretation of a self-help book. It is an opinion that should be stated, as such self-help books are very important to some people, but hardly the solution for others. If one wants to learn how to be everyone's buddy, fine. Some would read it, and behave as they always do. Some simple go somewhere and get some real experience. Do you think Dale Carnegie, or his followers really care anymore than you do about my opinion. People have opinions. I provided plenty of examples in rebuttal to your claims with little effort. Maybe they don't prove my case to you, but then, I don't really care about your opinion either. As a matter of conflict resolution, what's say we just let it go.

Edited by Repairman

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I've read How To Win Friends..., The Art of War, and The Prince. I don't remember a great lot of detail about any of them, to be honest (though I seem to recall that there was a mystical element to the Carnegie that didn't thrill me).

One thing I've kept from Machiavelli is that when you have a bunch of bad news to deliver, it's best to deliver it all at once (whereas good news will keep, and can be spread out over time to good effect). I've put that into occasional practice.

I think sometimes that "honesty" is put opposed to other virtues that I believe in, and attempt to incorporate into my life (with varying success), such as civility, tact, and diplomacy. I'm not making any particular claims here about Carnegie, Tzu or Machiavelli -- I really don't remember the specifics well enough to do that -- but just as a general point, I don't believe that honesty demands that we say anything and everything that crosses our minds, the moment it occurs to us to say. I think we're allowed (morally) to take the context of the situation into consideration, and to tailor our communications accordingly.

As an example so this isn't just some untethered helium discursive balloon...

When I attended college and sat through lectures, many things crossed my mind. Far from raising my hand at every opportunity (or even just shouting things out loud in a disruptive manner), I left many things unsaid; I kept many of my opinions to myself. I think that if I had construed "honesty" as to require me to tell my professors that I thought they were full of shit -- as I often believed was the case -- I would not have been able to complete my education.

Perhaps someone believes that I had some moral duty to martyr myself in this manner, in the name of "honesty"? Or maybe they believe that my life would have been superior in the long run by not gaining my degree... somehow. But for myself, I chose to refrain from saying things that I judged would harm my life and my future. This is also my current policy, though I'm sorry to say that I practice it imperfectly.

As for how I interact with "normal" people in everyday life? I believe that I interact with them normally.

Whatever else is true about bad philosophy and the current culture, most people manage to live lives of at least some quality. I believe that they are at least rational to a degree. I endeavor to find the good where I can -- among people, and within them -- deal with people on that level, and leave the rest. It doesn't always work out, but neither have I found the need to seclude myself from the world.

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DonAthos,

Cooler heads are prevailing, thank you. If my comments are still taken as a cold affront to rational and practical approaches, please let me clarify:

 

We are rational people. If it helps to placate or abate a potential confrontation, by all means appease the unstable parties. But one does not have to compromise one's integrity simply because the popular majority has a flawed set of norms. In the work place, sure, can't we all just get along. Don, as far as getting through school, you are right, and perhaps it was a bit hasty of me to agree with Leondro Tomas Cuadra, in regard to his belligerent class room tactics. (Leondro, I'm still with you in spirit, but you'll catch hell if you don't get that degree.) Actually, I can recall a time when I corrected a college instructor in his classroom, and he and I got along just fine and with a sense of mutual respect. But one does have to learn to control one's self; I do take issue with the idea of controlling others, not that that is an explicit method advised in most self-help books. But when so many self-help books are devoid of fundamental principles, I find traces of these methods in the stories of the downfalls of once-great leaders. My personal favorite for many years was, The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People-S. Covey. Covey emphasized principles before stepping in to the first of the seven habits. As to what those principles were, well, that was for the read to decide as a subjective matter. It was Ayn Rand that turned the change in my perspective. When someone understands the very source of morality, and is exposed to the contradictions of our popular norms, only then did I see a truly constructive self-help method. And I did not have to become popular to take advantage of it.

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The Carnegie book isn't that cynical. I don't think its particularly profound though. Dr. Hsieh has a review of it on her podcasts. But from what I recall, it claimed that the ability to sincerely listen to people and show that they are being heard is a decent way to get people to like you. Its a mostly true idea and the one valuable thing I remember from the book. I don't  recall it reaching "Pick up Artist" levels of self-delusion and dishonesty though. 

 

Alex, you sound well adjusted. There will be a lot of fakers in your life. Don't ever feel bad about distancing yourself from toxic people. Remember that a lot of people conform not out of character weakness but out of fear, often of actual harm. Abuse, either from peers, faculty, or guardians happens at your age and many of these people are wearing masks to protect themselves. Some of these people do have authentic aspects of their personality that they most likely won't share with others until they feel safe to do so. The best thing you can do is demonstrate that your aren't going to hurt them. This is done by keeping promises and reciprocating values. Maybe they aren't worth the effort at this point in your life, which is fine because that means you can focus on acquiring the skills and resources necessary to open up new social venues for yourself. 

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My problem isn't that I don't talk to people or I'm antisocial and I don't know how to get to know people, it's that I'm one of the more popular people in my class and it seems very empty. I have a lot of friends that I talk about sports with or just do nothing with, but I don't enjoy having to spend 7 hours a day with them. My problem is that I'm stuck at school learning things I already know with people that aren't exactly intellectually stimulating. There are definitely those who are enjoyable to be around and great people, but I don't get to see them often with school and preparations for the exchange. I'm asking about what you guys do at work or school when the people you are around 30-40 hours a week don't provide you with anything but small talk. I can't really quit school (I turned 16 last week), but I can't imagine spending another year there. Knowing I and a few others are light-years ahead of the rest of the class but still having to sit through useless lectures all day isn't a good feeling.

I'll also take a look at the book, but it doesn't seem like it fits my situation.

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