Manners maketh man. We all know that. And yet in the hurly-burly of everyday life we forget, somehow. Dale Carnegie, author of How to Win Friends and Influence People, knew that good manners, courtesy and tact are all vital lubricants in civilised life. More than this: they could hold the key to your fortune.
Carnegie's book, based on a personal development course he used to offer in the 1930s, became a massive bestseller. It is founded on a very simple idea - the benefits of reciprocity and kindness. Don't transmit, receive. Don't impose yourself on others, listen to them first. Leave people feeling better for having met you, and so on.
Indeed, in one section headed 'Six ways to make people like you', Carnegie boiled his message down to a few simple tips: 'Remember a person's name is, to that person, the sweetest and most important sound in any language.'
'Become genuinely interested in other people.'
'Make the other person feel important - and do it sincerely.'
'Be a good listener. Encourage others to talk about themselves.'
'Talk in terms of the other person's interest.'
And, never forget: 'Smile.'
There must be something to it. Warren Buffett completed Carnegie's course when he was 20, and he didn't turn out too badly, did he?
How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie, published by Simon and Schuster, 1936
Stefan Stern is visiting professor at Cass Business School. Follow him on Twitter: @StefanStern