How to Win Friends and Influence People

How to Win Friends and Influence People

Dale Carnegie’s How to Win Friends and Influence People is a one of the best books I’ve read on communication and relationships.  Dealing with people is one of the most difficult challenges in life.  Carnegie summed up years of research both thoroughly and succinctly to help you navigate your own relationships, whether they are professional or personal.

Over 30 million copies of this book have been sold worldwide.  I actually brought this book with to Puerto Rico.  When the flight took off, my seatmate saw me reading it, and we talked the entire hour about a seminar her work had just put on related to the talk.  Understanding and using the principles can make a big difference in how people perceive you, and in how effective you can be.

An overview of each section:

Part One: Fundamental Techniques in Handling People

Principle 1: Don’t criticize, condemn, or complain.  Write it in a letter and put it aside.  Being critical of others won’t sway them to your side.  Instead, it will make them defensive.  Try to understand them and practice sympathy, tolerance and kindness.

Principle 2: Give honest and sincere appreciation.  The only way to get someone to do something is by making them want to do it.  The deepest human urge is “the desire to be important” and the “craving to be appreciated.”  Honest and sincere appreciation will bring out the best, and will make people feel appreciated and important.

Principle 3: Arouse in the other person an eager want.  You have to see things from the other person’s perspectives.  When you are able to put yourself in someone else’s shoes, you can see what they want and align your goal to theirs.  Once you make them really want something, they will be happy to do it.

Part Two: Six Ways to Make People Like You

Principle 1: Become genuinely interested in other people.  “A dog is the only animal that doesn’t have to work for a living… a dog makes his living by giving you nothing but love” (51).  Show real interest in and affection for other people.

Principle 2: Smile.  Give a real, heartwarming, and genuine smile.

Principle 3: Remember that a person’s name is, to that person, the sweetest and most important sound in any language. When you use someone’s name, even if it’s just on their name tag, they will always notice.  People will feel important if you remember their name.

Principle 4: Be a good listener. Encourage others to talk about themselves.  People are far more interested in talking about themselves and their own problems than they are in anything else.  They just want someone to listen.

Principle 5: Talk in terms of the other person’s interest.  When you talk about something the other person likes, you make yourself seem agreeable.

Principle 6: Make the other person feel important – and do it sincerely.  Show them appreciation for their thoughts and time.

Part Three: How to Win People to Your Way of Thinking

Principle 1: The only way to get the best of an argument is to avoid it.  You can’t win an argument.  If you lose it, you lose it.  If you win it, you still lose it, because you’ve made the other person feel inferior, hurt their pride, led them to resent your triumph, and ultimately you still haven’t changed their opinion.

Principle 2: Show respect for the other person’s opinions. Never say “You’re wrong.”  You would be stripping them of their dignity and damaging their pride.

Principle 3: If you’re wrong, admit it quickly and emphatically.  When you condemn yourself, the only thing the other person can do for their own self-esteem is to be merciful.  In this case, they will likely take your side and become sympathetic.

Principle 4: Begin in a friendly way.  It will help win people over because they will be more receptive.

Principle 5: Start with questions to which the other person will answer yes.  When you can get them to agree with you on one thing, they are more likely to agree on the next, and then you can walk them toward your line of thinking.

Principle 6: Let the other person do a great deal of the talking.  They know more about their problems than you do, and it sounds better the them coming out of their own mouth.

Principle 7: Let the other person feel the idea is his or hers.  Just make suggestions, and guide them to the idea.

Principle 8: Try honestly to see things from the other person’s point of view.  Don’t condemn them for it.

Principle 9: Be sympathetic with the other person’s ideas and desires.  One of the most useful phrases you can use is “I don’t blame you for feeling that way, and if I were you, I would feel that way, too.”  Humans crave sympathy.

Principle 10: Appeal to the nobler motives.  Everyone likes to think of themselves in high regard and as honest and fair.

Principle 11: Dramatize your ideas. Sometimes you need to get creative in order to get attention.

Principle 12: Throw down a challenge.  Competition can push people and give them an incentive.

Part Four: Be a Leader: How to Change People Without Giving Offense or Arousing Resentment

Principle 1: Begin with praise and honest appreciation.  It makes it easier to hear the bad things.

Principle 2: Call attention to people’s mistakes indirectly.  Don’t use the word “but” following the initial honest praise.  Instead, use “and” and turn the negative into a positive action item so that the other person doesn’t feel like the first portion of your statement was erased.

Principle 3: Talk about your own mistakes before criticizing the other person.  It’s far easier to hear your own mistakes if the other person shows they make mistakes, too.

Principle 4: Ask questions instead of giving direct orders.  People are more likely to accept an order if they feel like they had a part in the decision.

Principle 5: Let the other person save face.  You should avoid injuring someone’s pride.

Principle 6: Praise every improvement.  It will inspire the other person to keep going.  “Abilities wither under criticism; they blossom under encouragement” (220).

Principle 7: Give the other person a fine reputation to live up to.  What else can they do then, except keep up the same high quality of work?

Principle 8: Use encouragement. Make the fault seem easy to correct.  You can try telling the other person that it’s easy, and that they’ve already got the basics or they’ve clearly got a knack for it.  They might be more motivated if they think the fix is easy.

Principle 9: Make the other person happy about doing what you suggest.  Don’t give someone time to feel unhappy if you refuse something.  Instead, get them to focus on the positives of your suggestion.

In Summary…

This book is well worth taking the time to study and learn from.  My copy is highlighted, underlined, and bookmarked throughout.  The overall takeaway is to be positive in your interactions with others.  Humans are messy, and feelings are messy, but Carnegie has great ideas and tips for navigating the waters.

2 Replies to “How to Win Friends and Influence People”

    1. Agreed! I can’t talk it up enough. It was written back in the 30s, so the fact that it’s still relevant really is impressive considering our ever-changing culture. 🙂

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