How To Win Friends and Influence People

Author: Dale Carnegie

Genre: Self-Help

How To Win Friends and Influence People, written over 80 years ago, literally started the entire genre of self-help books in the world. Legend has it that a senior executive of publisher, Simon and Schuster, attended Dale Carnegie’s personality development class and persuaded Dale to allow taking notes from the course that later became the book. One of the world’s largest best selling books of all time, it has sold more than 15 million copies and been translated in almost every written language.

Carnegie’s advice has stood the test of time and tells us how to make friends quickly and easily; win people over to our way of thinking; improve our conversational skills and become more interesting; and overall acquire new clients and customers. At its heart is the realization that “dealing with people is probably the biggest problem” we face. “Investigations revealed that even in such technical lines as engineering…, about 85% (of success) is due to skill in human engineering – to personality and the ability to lead people.” So, Carnegie goes on to teach 6 ways to make people like us and 9 ways to help us change people to our way of thinking.

The Fundamental Techniques in Handling People

  1. Don’t criticize, condemn or complain: “Criticism is futile because it puts a person on the defensive and usually makes him strive to justify himself. Criticism is dangerous, because it wounds a person’s precious pride, hurts his sense of importance, and arouses resentment.”
  2. Give honest and sincere appreciation: “The difference between appreciation and flattery? That is simple. One is sincere, and the other is insincere.
  3. Arouse in the other person an eager want: “When we have a brilliant idea, instead of making others think it is ours, why not let them cook and stir the idea themselves. They will then regard it as their own.”

Six Ways To Make People Like You

    1. Become Genuinely Interested In Other People: “Let’s greet people with animation and energy.”
    2. Smile: “Actions speak louder than words, and a smile says, ‘I like you. You make me happy. I am glad to see you.’”
    3. Remember a person’s name: “It is the sweetest and most important sound in any language.”
    4. Be a good listener: “Encourage others to talk about themselves.”
    5. Talk in terms of the other person’s interests: “Whenever Roosevelt expected a visitor, he sat up late the night before, reading up on the subject in which he knew his guest was particularly interested.”
    6. Make the other person feel important – and do it sincerely: “The desire to be important is the deepest urge in human nature…the craving to be appreciated.”

How To Win People To Your Way Of Thinking

    1. Begin with praise and honest appreciation
    2. Call attention to people’s mistakes indirectly: “especially to the sensitive ones”
    3. Talk about your own mistakes before criticizing the other person
    4. Ask questions instead of giving direct orders: It “not only makes an order more palatable; it often stimulates creativity… it encourages cooperation instead of rebellion.”
    5. Let the other person save face: “Even if we are right and the other person is definitely wrong, we only destroy ego by causing someone to lose face.”
    6. Praise the slightest improvement: “Be hearty in your approbation and lavish in your praise.”
    7. Give the other person a fine reputation to live up to: “Act as though that particular trait (that you are trying to improve in others) was already one of his or her outstanding characteristics.”
    8. Use encouragement: “Make the fault seem easy to correct.”
    9. Make the other person happy about doing the thing you suggest: There is an example of a President declining his secretary of state to go for an important mission, but by telling him “he was too important for the job”.

While the overall book is common sense (unfortunately what is common sense is often not common practice, hence the need for self-help books!), at times it appears to focus too much on making the other side simply “feel important”. Carnegie was a salesman and sometimes the book appears more a selling pitch than a real desire to change an individual. Some scholarly articles even chided Carnegie for bring insincere and manipulative. Also, since the time he wrote this book, thousands of books have been written on this very subject, often with much more science behind them (Carnegie’s books could be criticized for oversimplifying the subtle art of influencing). So, while reading the book today, it may appear to be old wine. But I still think it is an effective summary of all that is important to win friends and influence people, and written in a very simple style. There are lots of anecdotes in each chapter of famous and everyday people applying these learnings in real life. No wonder, the book continues to be in the Top 20 non-fiction book list of Amazon even today!

Why should you read this book: In the words of the author himself, “Compared to what we ought to be, we are only half awake. We are making use of only a small part of our physical and mental resources.” This book then will help us “discover, develop and profit by those dormant and unused assets.” Millions of people bought the book and became ardent fans. What’s the harm in trying?

Goodreads Link: How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie | Goodreads