How to Lose Friends and Scare Away People

red stapler

Many people have read the popular book How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie.  This book came out way back in the 1930’s but is still read by many today.  This book can teach you how to effectively network and connect with people to form meaningful relationships, in both your personal and business interactions.

It’s one of those books that teach you new things every time you read it.

But this post is not about all that syrupy good stuff.  This post is about the exact opposite. I will share a guide that will make sure you stay unhappy and stuck in your dead end job for a very long time, or even lose your job altogether.

It outlines the steps you need to take to ensure that you can effectively alienate both your family and friends while being scorned by co-workers at the same time.  It’s a rare skill to be able to lose friends AND scare away people, but I’ll show you how it’s done.  (This is all sarcasm by the way. Well most of it)

1.  Be late.  For everything.  It is said that time stops for no one.  It’s time to prove them wrong.  There are many places and people that expect you to be on time.  Your boss and your clients.  Mom and dad.  Your spouse.  Even your kids may expect you to be on time so they’re not stranded in front of school in 20 degree weather.

What gives them the right?  Take your time wherever you go and in whatever you do.  Deadlines and panicked phone calls from your children can wait.  You have more important things to do.  Time is a limited resource, so keep as much of it for yourself as you can.  (Reality: Pick your kids up if needed.  Don’t make your wife wait.  Ever.)

2.  Networking is for dweebs.  Who has time to network when there are so many shows to watch on Netflix?  You love your current job, but not that much, so talking to others in your field and keeping current on your skills should be the last thing on your mind.

Besides, who wants to be one of those guys that’s always shaking hands with people and smiling?  Not this guy.  (Reality:  Yes, you should make sincere and strong relationships with those people in your industry who make more than you or know more than you.)

3.  ALWAYS pass the buck.  Don’t be the “go to” guy in your workplace.  People will be asking you to do all kinds of stuff that you frankly don’t feel like doing.

If a client asks you to do an urgent project, first try to convince them that it’s not really that urgent, and if that doesn’t work, ask them to give the project to what’s his name down the hall.  (Reality: Try to be indispensable to your clients and supervisors.  They’ll greatly appreciate it because they’ll have to do less work.)

4.  Read a lot less.  There is this perception out there that successful people read a lot.  While this may be true, it certainly doesn’t sound like fun.  Reading hundreds of pages of material relevant to your field will take the excitement out of everything else in life.

If you know so much about your area of expertise, where are you going to get the rush of possibly making a bad decision?  Leave the reading to the librarians.  (Reality: Keep current on your field by reading relevant blogs or journals.  You’ll at least know when your field will become obsolete.)

5.  React to EVERYTHING.  All those people you work with and those clients you serve are out to get you.  Whether it’s your bobbleheads, awesome desk chair or even your red Swingline stapler, the world wants to see you pay and take your things.

This is why it is very important to react to every little thing.  And react HARD.  Throw objects, swear loudly, storm out of the room and, ideally, all three at the same time.  Every little sideways glance and convoluted comment that could be about you needs to be addressed.  These people will not stop until you’re out on the street.  (Reality:  People don’t have time to worry about you so don’t go crazy about everything.  They’re too busy worrying about themselves.)

These are my top 5 ways of being an anti-Dale Carnegie.  I’m sure there are many, many other ways I could think of to lead you down the path of the social pariah, but all this typing is hurting my fingers.  If you would like to share your own ways of losing friends and scaring away people, please feel free to share in the comments.



  1. I would add “Talk badly about your co-workers and make sure it gets back to them” or “Broadcast that I got a 15% raise for doing sweet nothing while everyone else in my department got 1%”. Funny post Syed and unfortunately all too true!

    • Syed says

      Thanks! Yeah I agree the most absurd thing about this post is that many people do this stuff for real!

  2. I learned a lot at NASA, but the biggest lesson I learned was how to accept responsibility for something you don’t think you were responsible for. Now it grates me to hear anyone say “but I …”. No excuses. No passing the buck!

    I stink at networking so I should probably read this book – it’s been on my Kindle app forever!

    • Syed says

      Yeah most bosses and supervisors don’t really care who caused a problem (unless it’s a repeat offender) but they just care about getting it fixed. Who has time to assign blame for every little thing. Fix it and move on. Thanks for the comment.

  3. #1 really hurt to read, because my wife and I have trouble getting to places on time. With that being said, we are always at work on time and are not late to meetings. When it’s a large group or small group meeting that is a bit more casual, we are typically a bit late because we have long commutes home and work pretty late. But there’s no excuse for being late, really. It’s better to just be up-front and say you can’t make x time work but what about y? When it comes to work there really aren’t any excuses besides emergencies.

    • Syed says

      Yeah sometimes being late can become a habit! I actually used to do this for a while I always came to work right about 5 minutes late almost all the time, no matter where I was working. I decided I should stop this so now I try to arrive 5 min early. Thanks for the comment.

  4. I’d like to add, “throw your co-workers under the bus” to the list. When you’re getting in “trouble” about something you did wrong, feel free to mention how your co-worker did the same thing and shouldn’t they get “written up?” too? I mean if fair is fair, how come she didn’t get in trouble when she did the same thing last year? (yes I know a woman who actually did this during a disciplinary meeting). Just suck it up and move on, don’t throw your co-worker under the bus, lame!

    • Syed says

      That is really lame but I see it once in a while also. It seems people want to take others down with them.

  5. To be honest, I always thought it would be really fun to act in a scene where you get to swear at everyone and break things. My tips are: be a creeper and try and flirt with all of your coworkers (might as well take a shot, right?); beat up a fellow salesman when he steals a client, as you can’t have anyone encroaching on your territory (this happened); be so awesome that you can do something stupid, get sent to jail, and then have your bosses wait for you to return (this also happened).

    • Syed says

      These are all amazing suggestions, and it’s even more amazing that you got to experience them! A “Fight Club” mentality in the workplace could be interesting.

  6. I love number two. If you are unhappy, then do something about it and use those connections!

  7. If you’re a supervisor, make note of people’s mistakes without telling them what those problems are. At a new job, I accidentally forwarded the front phone to a specific person’s inbox instead of general voicemail. They told me this 10 days later when doing an overall review of my shortcomings. (And there were many.)

    • Syed says

      That’s terrible. Some workplaces seem so toxic. Thanks for the comment!

  8. Another one is don’t keep secrets to yourself. I learned the hard way that not every “friend” knows how to keep things to themselves. Finding true and loyal friends is hard but it’s worth letting go of people with the above qualities. There are better people out there!

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