Carnegie was a pioneer in the self-improvement movement
and became famous
for courses he developed that emphasized public speaking and
interpersonal skills. He was the author of the bestselling
book How to Win Friends and Influence People, first published
in 1937, which has sold over 10 million copies through many
editions and remains popular today. He also wrote a biography
of Abraham Lincoln titled Lincoln the Unknown and several
was an early proponent of what is now called responsibility
assumption. One of the core ideas in his books is that it
is possible to change other people's behavior by changing
one's reaction to them.
The Dale Carnegie Course
The Dale Carnegie Course is a self-improvement program conducted
using a standardized curriculum by franchised trainers throughout
the world. Several variations on the course exist, including
a sales course and a course intended for people about to become
managers for the first time.
course consists of twelve evening sessions lasting three hours
each. Courses are scheduled in the evening, one night per
week. Typically there are 10-30 attendees in a course. Unpaid
assistants, who are "graduates" of the course seeking
to meet the experience requirement for becoming an instructor,
are on hand to assist with logistics and work with small groups.
are college graduates who have experience working as managers
in a business setting
deal of the time each evening is spent in short presentations
given by each of the participant to the rest of the attendees.
Though the format varies slightly from week to week, usually
about half of the available time is spent on presentations.
Presentations are always based on personal experience rather
than a topic that has been researched. This is a unique aspect
of the Dale Carnegie Course that sets it apart from otherwise
similar programs, and it is a core belief of the program that
ease and experience with public speaking produces a wide range
of secondary benefits.
of each session is spent in lecture and small group exercises.
Lecture topics cover memory techniques, the importance of
learning names, conversational techniques, and problem resolution
and small group skills.
Carnegie Course enjoys a positive
reputation among many business
people and, particularly, is seen as a powerful transitional
tool for shy people unaccustomed to working with others. Many
employers pay for their employees to take the course.
Criticisms of the Course
Most people who take the course have good things to say about
criticisms are in three major areas. First, a great deal of
time is spent listening to speeches given by other participants,
particularly in classes with larger numbers of participants.
Some critics state that this time is not well spent.
there is criticism
that some techniques taught are manipulative. In The Fountainhead,
Ayn Rand included a lengthy subplot where one character feigns
an interest in the hobby of another in an effort to become
a partner in an architectural firm. This is a direct attack
on Carnegie's techniques. The course teaches
that students should "take a genuine interest in other
people" (emphasis added), though some present-day critics
consider this a band-aid for a fundamentally manipulative