Relationship building 101.

Author:Gable, Julie
Position:Winning With People - Book Review

TITLE: Winning With People AUTHOR: John C. Maxwell ISBN: 0-7852-6089-7 PUBLISHER: Nelson Books PUBLICATION DATE: 2004 LENGTH: 275 pages PRICE: $24.99 U.S. SOURCE:

John Maxwell's Winning With People is advertised as How to Win Friends and Influence People for the 21st century. Anyone who has read the 1936 Dale Carnegie classic will realize that the premises are similar, but the two works bear no more resemblance to each other than do third cousins.

Maxwell's book begins with a focus on self, an appropriate place to start for the so-called "me generation." His point in doing so is to introduce the first of the book's 25 principles, all of which have catchy names and advice that could be stitched in an old-fashioned embroidery sampler. "The Lens Principle," for example, tells us that "Who we are determines how we see others." The short sections that follow discuss how self-perception colors what we see, how we view life, what we do, and, of course, how we judge others. The chapter concludes with a five-point discussion of what determines self, including genetics, self-image, life experiences, attitudes, and friends. Birds of a feather, it seems, really do flock together, as the author points out that people choose friends whose self-esteem mirrors their own.

Maxwell is convinced that everything depends on relationships--not just business success, but satisfaction in all areas of life. He is persuasive in theorizing that improving existing relationships and nurturing new ones require internal change. His prose weaves from self-examination to understanding of human nature, to accepting that nothing important is accomplished alone. In short, people need people in business and elsewhere, too.

There are folksy rejoinders about humility, for example, "The entire population of the world--with one minor exception--is composed entirely of others"; but there are also nuggets of wisdom rendered in memorable phrases, "Hurting people hurt others and are easily hurt by them." Far from a Pollyanna, Maxwell tempers his optimism with the knowledge that some people are difficult, and while kindness is required for them, lasting friendship is not. He also does not back away from the uncomfortable theme of envy in friendships, challenging readers on whether they celebrate their friends'...

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