Last month I read… (May 2018)

This month’s read list is definitely larger that the last month, but couple of these books I was already reading at some capacity. Obligation to write a list every month seems to be working though—I spent more time reading last month, no doubt.

When reading, I like to save some quotes or ideas that I find interesting. I thought I would share a couple of them after each book.

Without further ado, here’s my books list of last month:

How to Win Friends and Influence People in the Digital Age by Dale Carnegie

I believe in re-reading good books once in a while, and this book is one of them. Originally published in 1936, How to Win Friends and Influence People became one of the most successful books in American History. It’s a great handbook how to improve your relationships with other people, increase your influence and avoid arguments. It also has helpful advice for business—how to win new customers and become a better leader. The original book was written before computers era, but this specific edition takes Carnegies’s ideas and puts them in today’s—phone, email and social networks—context, which makes this book even more useful.

[…] the moment you use a medium to criticize, the subject of your criticism is compelled to defend. And when another is defensive, there is little you can say to break through the barriers he has raised. Everything you say is then filtered through skepticism, or worse, complete incredulity. In this way critical comments act like invisible boomerangs. They return on the thrower’s head.

If a person is important to you in some way, every second you spend trying to better understand his perspective is a second well spent.

Many people begin their criticism with sincere praise followed by the word “but”, which signals that the criticism is about to begin. This way make the listener question the sincerity of the praise. Use “and” instead, and provide constructive advice rather than criticism. This is possible the most effective way to address an issue in written form without seeming false in your praise.

Getting to Yes by Roger Fisher and William Ury

This is my first book on negotiation, so all concepts on that topic were new to me. “Hard on the problem, soft on the people” is a mantra of this book—how to separate people from the problem, focus on interests and look for mutual gain. It also introduces to an idea of BATNA (Best Alternative to a Negotiated Agreement), which gives negotiator a better metric to compare offers against, rather than rounding everything to a monetary value. While it’s not a single answer how to become a skilful negotiator, it is a good introductory piece which will give useful ideas how to improve your chances of reaching an agreement in any situation.

[…] use questions instead of statements. Statements generate resistance, whereas questions generate answers.

People generally assume that differences between two partials create the problem. Yet differences can also lead to a solution.

You should not give in for the purpose of trying to improve a relationship.

[on alternatives if job negotiation fails] In your mind you are likely to find the sum of these alternatives more attractive than working for a specific salary in a particular job. The difficulty is that you cannot have the sum total of all those other alternatives; if you fail to reach agreement, you will have to choose just one.

Letters from a Stoic by Seneca

Seneca was (and probably is) one of the most recognisable Roman Stoic philosophers in the world. At his retirement he wrote a number of letters to Lucilius, who at that time was the procurator of Sicily.

Selection of those letters were combined into this book, where Seneca shares his knowledge about life problems—the same problems that people struggle with even today: How to live a happy and tranquil life? How to deal with mean people? How to perceive fortune and wealth? Teachings about life, death, wealth, wisdom, fortune and order of mind—this book is full of practical advice, approachable by everyone.

Nothing, to my way of thinking, is a better proof of a well ordered mind than a man’s ability to stop just where he is and pass some time in his own company.

Misdeeds are greatly diminished if a witness is always standing near intending doers.

[on wealth] I want to ensure that you possess them without tremors; and this you will only achieve in one way, by convincing yourself that you can live a happy life even without them, and by always regarding them as being on the point of vanishing.

Truth lies open to everyone.

Suppose he has a beautiful home and a handsome collection of servants, a lot of land under cultivation and a lot of money out at interest; not one of these things can be said to be in him—they are just things around him. Praise in him what can neither be given nor snatched away, what is peculiarity a man’s.

Your face will cease to be its present picture of sadness as soon as you take your eyes off yourself.

The man who spends his time choosing one resort after another in a hunt for peace and quiet, will in every place he visits find something to prevent him from relaxing.

It is in no man’s power to have whatever he wants; but he has it in his power not to wish for what he hasn’t got, ant cheerfully make the most of the things that do come his way.

Rolandas Barysas
Hello, my name is Rolandas Barysas. I write software for a living, splitting my time between freelancing and personal projects.