How to Win Friends and Influence People: Book Summary

It takes something extraordinary for a book to remain a best seller fully 80 years after it was first published. Dale Carnegie wrote How to Win Friends and Influence People in 1937, offering practical advice in how to get along with others, understand their point of view, and influence them to your own.

It is a testament to the importance of human relationships that even now, in fact ESPECIALLY now, in our internet age and when many of our interactions are via e-mail or text or social media, there continues to be a realisation of the importance of human to human contact and relationship.

Carnegie understood the basics of relationships and was particularly effective in expressing how the reader can improve his or her own abilities, in an understandable way, frequently using anecdotes or stories to illustrate key principles.

Just as he teaches the importance of listening, the book should be read in a thoughtful way and with time taken to really consider the points being made. Give them time to be fully absorbed, and use them in daily life.

Part One: The fundamental Techniques in Handling People.

  • Criticism is futile because it puts a person on the defensive and usually makes them strive to justify themselves.
  • Criticism is dangerous, because it wounds a person’s precious pride, hurts their sense of importance, and arouses resentment.
  • As much as we thirst for approval, we dread condemnation,
  • When dealing with people, let us remember we are not dealing with creatures of logic. We are dealing with creatures of emotion, creatures bristling with prejudices and motivated by pride and vanity.
  • Any fool can criticize, condemn and complain - and most fools do. But it takes character and self-control to be understanding and forgiving.
  • Instead of condemning people, let’s try to understand them. Let’s try to figure out why they do what they do.
  • As Dr. Johnson said: “God Himself, sir, does not propose to judge man until the end of his days.”

Principle 1: Don't criticize, condem or complain.

  • There is only one way under high heaven to get anybody to do anything. And that is by making the other person want to do it.
  • Sigmund Freud said that everything you and I do springs from two motives: the sex urge and the desire to be great.
  • William James said: "The deepest principle in human nature is the craving to be appreciated."
  • There is nothing else that so kills the ambitions of a person as criticisms from superiors.
  • In the long run, flattery will do more harm than good. Flattery is counterfeit, and like counterfeit money, it will eventually get you into trouble if you pass it to someone else.
  • Appreciation is sincere and it comes from our heart.
  • Flattery is telling the other person preceisely what they think about themselves.
  • Try leaving a friendly trail of little sparks of gratitude on your daily trips.
  • Hurting people not only does not change them, it is never called for.

Principle 2: Give honest and sincere appreciation

  • The only way on earth to influence other people is to talk about what they want and show them how to get it.
  • Every act you have ever performed since the day you were born was performed because you wanted something.
  • Action springs out of what we fundamentally desire
  • You may want to persuade somebody to do something. Before you speak, pause and ask yourself: “How can I make this person want to do it?”
  • If there is any one secret of success, it lies in the ability to get the other person's point of view and see things from that person’s angle as well as from your own.
  • People who can put themselves in the place of other people who can understand the workings of their minds, need never worry about what the future has in store for them.
  • Looking at the other person’s point of view and arousing in them an eager want for something is not to be construed as manipulating that person so that they will do something that is only for your benefit and their detriment.

Principle 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.
  • First, arouse in the other person an eager want. He who can do this has the whole world with him. He who cannot walks a lonely way.

Part Two: Ways to make people like you

  • You can make more friends in two months by becoming interested in other people than you can in two years by trying to get other people interested in you.
  • People are not interested in you. They are not interested in me. They are interested in themselves - morning, noon and after dinner.
  • If we merely try to impress people and get people interested in us, we will never have many true, sincere friends. Friends, real friends, are not made that way.
  • It is the individual who is not interested in his fellow men who has the greatest difficulties in life and provides the greatest injury to others. It is from among such individuals that all humun failures spring.
  • To be genuinely interested in other people is a most important quality for a sales-person to possess.
  • All of us, be we workers in a factory, clerks in an office or even a king upon his throne: all of us like people who admire us
  • If we want to make friends, let’s put ourselves out to do things for other people: things that require time, energy, unselfishness and thoughtfulness.
  • Greet all callers in a tone of voice that radiates interest and enthusiasm.

Principle 1 - Become genuinely interested in other people.

  • The expression one wears on one’s face is far more important than the clothes one wears on one’s back.
  • Actions speak louder than words, and a smile says, "I like you, You make me happy."
  • People who smile, tend to manage teach and sell more effectively, and to raise happier children.
  • People rarely succeed at anything unless they have fun doing it.
  • You must have a good time meeting people if you expect them to have a good time meeting you.
  • Happiness doesn’t depend on outward conditions. It depends on inner conditions.
  • Keep your mind on the great and splendid things you would like to do, and then, as the days go gliding away, you will find yourself unconsciously seizing upon the opportunities that are required for the fulfillment of your desire,
  • A Smile costs nothing, but creates much. It enriches those who receive, without impoverishing those who give.
  • Nobody needs a smile so much as those who have none left to give!

Principle 2 - Smile.

  • The average person is more interested in his or her own name than in all the other names on earth put together.
  • People are so proud of their names that they strive to perpetuate them at any cost.
  • One of the simplest, most obvious and most important ways of gaining good will was by remembering names and making people feel important

Principle 3 - Remeber that a person's name is to that person the sweetest and most important sound in any language.

  • Many people fail to make a favorable impression because they don’t listen attentively. “They have been so much concerned with what they are going to say next that they do not keep their ears open.
  • People who talk only of themselves think only of themselves.
  • So if you aspire to be a good conversationalist, be an attentive listener.
  • To be interesting, be interested.
  • Ask questions that other persons will enjoy answering.
  • Encourage them to talk about themselves and their accomplishments.
  • Remember that the people you are talking to are a hundred times more interested in themselves and their wants and problems than they are in you and your problems.

Principle 4: Be a good listener. Encourage others to talk about themselves.

  • Talking in terms of the other person’s interests pays off for both parties.

Principle 5: Talk in terms of the other person's interests.

  • Always make the other person feel important.
  • The deepest principle in human nature is the craving to be appreciated.
  • You want the approval of those with whom you come in contact.
  • You want the feeling that you are important in your little world.
  • You don't want to listen to cheap, insincere flattery, but you crave sincere appreciation.
  • The life of many a person could probably be changed if only someone would make him feel important.
  • Talk to people about themselves and they will listen for hours.

Principle 6: Make the other person feel important - and do it sincerely.

Part Three: How to win people to your way of thinking

  • Why prove to a man he is wrong? Is that going to make him like you? Why not let him save his face? He didn’t ask for your opinion. He didn’t want it. Why argue with him?
  • A man convinced against his will is of the same opinion still.
  • If you argue and rankle and contradict, you may achieve a victory sometimes; but it will be an empty victory because you will never get your opponent’s good will.
  • You may be right, dead right, as you speed along in your argument; but as far as changing another’s mind is concerned, you will probably be just as futile as if you were wrong.
  • Buddha said: “Hatred is never ended by hatred but by love," and a misunderstanding is never ended by an argument but by tact, diplomacy, conciliation and a sympathetic desire to see the other person’s viewpoint.
  • You can measure the size of a person by what makes him or her angry.

Principle 1: The only way to get the best of an argument is to avoid it.

  • Never begin by announcing "I am going to prove so-and-so to you.” That’s bad. That’s tantamount to saying: “I’m smarter than you are, I’m going to tell you a thing or two and make you change your mind.”
  • Men must be taught as if you taught them not and things unknown proposed as things forgot.
  • You cannot teach a man anything; you can only help him to find it within himself.
  • If a person makes a statement that you think is wrong - yes, even that you know is wrong - isn’t it better to begin by saying: “Well, now, look, I thought otherwise, but I may be wrong. I frequently am. And if I am wrong, I want to be put right. Let’s examine the facts.”
  • Few people are logical. Most of us are prejudiced and biased. Most of us are blighted with preconceived notions, with jealousy, suspicion, fear, envy and pride.
  • When we are wrong, we may admit it to ourselves. And if we are handled gently and tactfully, we may admit it to others and even take pride in our frankness and broad-mindedness.
  • I am convinced now that nothing good is accomplished and a lot of damage can be done if you tell a person straight out that he or she is wrong. You only succeed in stripping that person of self-dignity and making yourself an unwelcome part of any discussion.
  • In other words, don’t argue with your customer or your spouse or your adversary. Don’t tell them they are wrong, don’t get them stirred up. Use a little diplomacy.

Principle 2: Show respect for the other person's opinions. Never Say, "You're wrong."

  • There is a certain degree of satisfaction in having the courage to admit one’s errors. It not only clears the air of guilt and defensiveness, but often helps solve the problem created by the error.
  • Any fool can try to defend his or her mistakes - and most fools do - but it raises one above the herd and gives one a feeling of nobility and exultation to admit one’s mistakes.
  • "By fighting you never get enough, but by yielding you get more than you expected.”

Principle 3: If you are wrong, admit it quickly and empathically

  • If your temper is aroused and you tell'em a thing or two, you will have a fine time unloading your feelings. But what about the other person? Will he share your pleasure? Will your belligerent tones, your hostile attitude, make it easy for him to agree with you?
  • If a man's heart is rankling with discord and ill feeling toward you, you can’t win him to your way of thinking with all the logic in Christendom.
  • Scolding parents and domineering bosses and husbands and nagging wives ought to realize that people don’t want to change their minds. They can’t be forced or driven to agree with you or me. But they may possibly be led to, if we are gentle and friendly, ever so gentle and ever so friendly.
  • The sun can make you take off your coat more quickly than the wind; and kindliness, the friendly approach and appreciation can make people change their minds more readily than all the bluster and storming in the world.

Principle 4: Begin in a friendly way.

  • In talking with people, don’t begin by discussing the things on which you differ. Begin by emphasizing—and keep on emphasizing—the things on which you agree.
  • Keep emphasizing, if possible, that you are both striving for the same end and that your only difference is one of method and not of purpose.
  • Get the other person saying “Yes, yes” at the outset. Keep your opponent, if possible, from saying “No.” A “No” response, according to Professor Overstreet, is a most difficult handicap to overcome.
  • it doesn’t pay to argue, that it is much more profitable and much more interesting to look at things from the other person’s viewpoint and try to get that person saying ‘yes, yes.'
  • The “Socratic method,” is based upon getting a “yes, yes” response. You ask questions with which your opponent would have to agree. You keep on winning one admission after another until you have an armful of yeses. You keep on asking questions until finally, almost without realizing it, your opponents found themselves embracing a conclusion they would have bitterly denied a few minutes previously.
  • “He who treads softly goes far.” -- Chinese Proverb

Principle 5: Get the other person saying "yes, yes" immediately.

  • Must people trying to win others to their way of thinking do too much talking themselves. Let the other people talk themselves out.
  • If you want enemies, excel your friends; but if you want friends, let your friends excel you.
  • "I was good at my work and proud of it,” Henrietta told one of our classes. " But instead of my colleagues sharing my triumphs, they seemed to resent them."

Principle 6: Let the other person do a great deal of the talking.

  • It wiser to make suggestions - and let the other person think out the conclusion.
  • No one likes to feel that he or she is being sold something or told to do a thing. We much prefer to feel that we are buying of our own accord or acting on our own ideas.
  • Letting the other person feel that the idea is his or hers not only works in business and politics, it works in family life as well.
  • In every work of genius we recognise our own rejected thoughts; they come back to us with a certain alienated majesty.

Principle 7: Let the other person feel that the idea is his or hers.

  • Remember that other people may be totally wrong. But they don’t think so. Don’t condemn them. Any fool can do that. Try to understand them. Only wise, tolerant, exceptional people even try to do that.
  • There is a reason why the other man thinks and acts as he does. Ferret out that reason - and you have the key to his actions, perhaps to his personality
  • If you say to yourself, “How would I feel, how would I react if I were in his shoes?” you will save yourself time and irritation, for “by becoming interested in the cause, we are less likely to dislike the effect.”
  • Success in dealing with people depends on a sympathetic grasp of the other persons’ viewpoint.
  • Try to think the whole thing through from another person’s point of view? Ask yourself: “Why should he or she want to do it?”

PRINCIPLE 8 - Try honestly to see things from the other person’s point of view.

  • Three-fourths of the people you will ever meet are hungering and thirsting for sympathy. Give it to them, and they will love you.

PRINCIPLE 9 - Be sympathetic with the other person’s ideas and desires.

  • All people you meet have a high regard for themselves and like to be fine and unselfish in their own estimation.
  • J. Pierpont Morgan observed, in one of his analytical interludes, that a person usually has two reasons for doing a thing: one that sounds good and a real one.
  • In order to change people, appeal to the nobler motives.

Principle 10 - Appeal to the nobler motives

  • You can dramatize your ideas in business or in any other aspect of your life.

PRINCIPLE 11 - Dramatize your ideas.

  • “The way to get things done, is to stimulate competition. I do not mean in a sordid, money-getting way, but in the desire to excel.”
  • All men have fears, but the brave put down their fears and go forward, sometimes to death, but always to victory” was the motto of the King’s Guard in ancient Greece. What greater challenge can be offered than the opportunity to overcome those fears?
  • Every successful person loves: the game. The chance for self-expression. The chance to prove his or her worth, to excel, to win. That is what makes foot-races and hog-calling and pie-eating contests. The desire to excel. The desire for a feeling of importance.

PRINCIPLE 12 - Throw down a challenge.

PART FOUR: Be a Leader: How to Change People Without Giving Offense or Arousing Resentment

  • It is always easier to listen to unpleasant things after we have heard some praise of our good points.
  • Beginning with praise is like the dentist who begins his work with Novocain. The patient still gets a drilling, but the Novocain is pain-killing.

Principle 1: Begin with praise and honest appreciation

  • Many people begin their criticism with sincere praise followed by the word “but” and ending with a critical statement. This could be easily overcome by changing the word "but" to "and."
  • Calling attention to one’s mistakes indirectly works wonders with sensitive people who may resent bitterly any direct criticism.

PRINCIPLE 2 - Call attention to people’s mistakes indirectly.

  • If a few sentences humbling oneself and praising the other party can turn a haughty, insulted Kaiser into a staunch friend, imagine what humility and praise can do for you and me in our daily contacts.
  • Admitting one’s own mistakes—even when one hasn’t corrected them—can help convince somebody to change his behavior.

PRINCIPLE 3 - Talk about your own mistakes before criticizing the other person.

  • Resentment caused by a brash order may last a long time - even if the order was given to correct an obviously bad situation.
  • People are more likely to accept an order if they have had a part in the decision that caused the order to be issued.
  • Asking questions not only makes an order more palatable; it often stimulates the creativity of the persons whom you ask.

PRINCIPLE 4 - Ask questions instead of giving direct orders.

  • Even if we are right and the other person is definitely wrong, we only destroy ego by causing someone to lose face.
  • Antoine de Saint-Exupéry wrote: "I have no right to say or do anything that diminishes a man in his own eyes. What matters is not what I think of him, but what he thinks of himself. Hurting a man in his dignity is a crime.”

Principle 5 - Let the other person save face

  • Let us praise even the slightest improvement. That inspires the other person to keep on improving.
  • “Praise is like sunlight to the warm human spirit we cannot flower and grow without it. And yet, while most of us are only too ready to apply to others the cold wind of criticism, we are somehow reluctant to give our fellow the warm sunshine of praise.”
  • When criticism is minimized and praise emphasized, the good things people do will be reinforced and the poorer things will atrophy for lack of attention.
  • Everybody likes to be praised, but when praise is specific, it comes across as sincere - not something the other person may be saying just to make one feel good.
  • Remember, we all crave appreciation and recognition, and will do almost anything to get it. But nobody wants insincerity. Nobody wants flattery.
  • If you and I will inspire the people with whom we come in contact to a realization of the hidden treasures they possess, we can do far more than change people. We can literally transform them.

PRINCIPLE 6 - Praise the slightest improvement and praise every improvement. Be “hearty in your approbation and lavish in your praise.”

  • The average person, can be led readily if you have his or her respect and if you show that you respect that person for some kind of ability.
  • In short, if you want to improve a person in a certain aspect, act as though that particular trait were already one of his or her outstanding characteristics.
  • There is an old saying: “Give a dog a bad name and you may as well hang him.” But give him a good name - and see what happens!

PRINCIPLE 7 - Give the other person a fine reputation to live up to.

  • Tell your child, your spouse, or your employee that he or she is stupid or dumb at a certain thing, has no gift for it, and is doing it all wrong, and you have destroyed almost every incentive to try to improve.
  • Be liberal with your encouragement, make the thing seem easy to do, let the other person know that you have faith in his ability to do it, that he has an undeveloped flair for it—and he will practice until the dawn comes in the window in order to excel.

PRINCIPLE 8 - Use encouragement. Make the fault seem easy to correct.

  • The effective leader should keep the following guidelines in mind when it is necessary to change attitudes or behavior:
    1. Be sincere. Do not promise anything that you cannot deliver. Forget about the benefits to yourself and concentrate on the benefits to the other person.
    2. Know exactly what it is you want the other person to do.
    3. Be empathetic. Ask yourself what is it the other person really wants.
    4. Consider the benefits that person will receive from doing what you suggest.
    5. Match those benefits to the other person’s wants.
    6. When you make your request, put it in a form that will convey to the other person the idea that he personally will benefit.
  • It is naïve to believe you will always get a favorable reaction from other persons when you use these approaches, but the experience of most people shows that you are more likely to change attitudes this way than by not using these principles

PRINCIPLE 9 - Make the other person happy about doing the thing you suggest.