How to Win Friends and Influence People was written in 1937 by Dale Carnegia, a self-help book. The book was able to sell more than 30 million copies worldwide in its lifetime. Before writing this, Carnegie was teaching business courses in New York since 1912. That experience plays a significant role in what this book has to offer. In 1934, Leon Shimkin of Simon & Schuster convinced Carnegie to turn one of his courses on human relations and public speaking into a book. Not only did this best-seller succeed, but it took off, selling an astounding 5,000 copies and passing through 17 editions in its first year of release.
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Let’s now explore the key takeaways from Dale Carnegie’s well-known book, “How to Win Friends and Influence People.”
About The Author
American writer and lecturer Dale Carnegie (1888–1955), known as Carnagey until 1922, had a profound influence on the fields of interpersonal skills, corporate training, public speaking, salesmanship, and self-improvement. He grew up on a modest Missouri farm and conquered extreme poverty before becoming well-known for the timeless classic “How to Win Friends and Influence People,” published in 1937. More than 30 million copies of this timeless bestseller—a light of wisdom that still lights up hearts and minds today—have been embraced by readers worldwide, leaving an enduring legacy.
Evolution of How to Win Friends and Influence People Editions
When How to Win Friends and Influence People was initially published in 1937, only 5,000 copies were sold—the book shot to fame in an instant. In 1981, a revised edition with updated language and anecdotes was released. This edition reduced the number of sections from six to four and eliminated areas on effective business letters and improving marital satisfaction.
How to Win Friends and Influence People in 1981 edition:
- “Twelve Things This Book Will Do for You”
- “Fundamental Techniques in Handling People”
- “Twelve Ways to Win People to Your Way of Thinking”
- “Be a Leader: How to Change People Without Giving Offense or Arousing Resentment”
- “Letters That Produced Miraculous Results” (Included in the 1936 edition)
- “Seven Rules for Making Your Home Life Happier” (Included in the 1936 edition)
How to Win Friends and Influence People in Newer Editions:
- “Fundamental Techniques in Handling People”
- “Six Ways to Make People Like You”
- “How to Win People to Your Way of Thinking”
- “Be a Leader: How to Change People Without Giving Offense or Arousing Resentment”
In 1981, a revised edition reduced the number of sections from six to four. Each of the four sections has certain principles. Let’s discuss all that section and their principles.
Part 1: Fundamental Techniques in Handling People
In this part, Carnegie emphasizes three fundamental principles for effective communication.
Principle 1: Don’t criticize, condemn, or complain.
Most people don’t respond very well to criticism, condemnation, or complaint, so if you’re feeling such things about someone, bite your tongue and hold back. By doing this, you can avoid bringing up unneeded criticism in a conversation—criticism that can quickly backfire by devaluing you in the eyes of others.
“Criticism is futile because it puts a person on the defensive and usually makes them strive to justify themselves.”— DALE CARNEGIE
Principle 2: Give honest and sincere appreciation.
We can significantly change someone else’s self-perception, boost their motivation, and catalyze their achievement by expressing genuine gratitude. When you consider it that way, we stand to gain nothing negative and nothing at all.
“Flattery is from the teeth out. Sincere appreciation is from the heart out.”— DALE CARNEGIE
Principle 3: Arouse in the other person an eager want.
Lead with what will benefit the other person and increase their interest in you. For instance, in a cover letter, instead of starting with “I want this job,” state what makes you the most excellent candidate for the position.
“Of course, you are interested in what you want. But no one else is. The rest of us are just like you: we are interested in what we want.”— DALE CARNEGIE
When we try to understand how others see things and what matters to them, we can better convince them to support our ideas and goals.
Part 2: Six Ways to Make People Like You
This section provides six principles to help build rapport and foster positive relationships.
Principle 1: Become genuinely interested in other people.
Carnegie suggests developing a genuine interest in others, which is challenging for introverts. I’ve discovered a helpful approach: internalize their words—does it connect with my life? Then, I express my understanding, demonstrating my sincere interest in their thoughts.
Principle 2: Smile.
All you have to do is smile, but it’s more complicated than it sounds. If I greet people positively and visualize happiness, it’s much simpler to smile back at them.
Principle 3: Remember that a person’s name is to that person the sweetest and most important sound in any language.
I’m skilled at remembering names, but sometimes struggle to match faces with names. Carnegie advises improving this skill. When I need to recall a name and a face, especially before an event, I review their picture online regularly. This method helps imprint their image, making it easier to remember their name upon meeting.
“The average person is more interested in his or her own name than in all the other names on earth put together.”— DALE CARNEGIE
Principle 4: Be a good listener. Encourage others to talk about themselves.
Here, Carnegie asserts that listening to people with genuine interest is the most excellent approach to becoming a skilled speaker. I’ve always found this part to be easy – it’s the speaking part that I find challenging.
Principle 5: Talk in terms of the other person’s interests.
To connect effectively:
- Focus on their interests.
- Translate what you hear into topics they like.
- Listen for their passions that align with your knowledge.
- Follow that conversational thread instead of imposing your unrelated interests.
“The royal road to a person’s heart is to talk about the things he or she treasures most.”— THEODORE ROOSEVELT
Principle 6: Make the other person feel important – and do it sincerely.
To create a genuine connection, express their importance with sincerity. A practical method is introducing people you know, highlighting their mutual interests, and offering compliments to both. This approach fosters bonds and demonstrates your sincere appreciation for them.
Part 3: Win People to Your Way of Thinking
This part delves into strategies for influencing others positively.
Principle 1: The only way to get the best of an argument is to avoid it.
Arguments have no positive outcome. Disagreements are inevitable, but how we handle those disagreements means the difference between resolution and indifference. Instead of confrontation, listening to understand will often lead to insights that lead to a beneficial resolution.
“A man convinced against his will is of the same opinion still.” — BENJAMIN FRANKLIN.
Principle 2: Show respect for the other person’s opinions. Never say, “You’re wrong.”
The easiest way to make an enemy is to tell them that they are wrong. Say something like, “I never thought of it that way before,” and pose questions in its place regardless of whether or not you think their stance is valid.
Principle 3: If you are wrong, admit it quickly and emphatically.
If you are revealed to be wrong, admit it and be very clear about the admission. When you are incorrect, don’t try to disguise it behind pouting or arrogance because you’ll only make those actions more negative.
Principle 4: Begin in a friendly way.
Under challenging conversations with lousy news, begin with positives. For instance, when addressing poor restaurant service, start by highlighting what you enjoyed. Then, gently address the service issues, emphasizing the potential impact on the restaurant’s reputation. This approach not only eases the conversation but can also yield positive outcomes.
“A drop of honey catches more flies than a gallon of gall.”— ABRAHAM LINCOLN
Principle 5: Get the other person saying “yes, yes” immediately.
When attempting to persuade someone of your point of view, begin with foundational topics that you are positive they will accept and ask them to signify their agreement. Then, when you move from step to step, keep getting those positive acknowledgments. More often than not, a series of “yeses” will result in another “yes.”
Principle 6: Let the other person do a great deal of the talking.
When someone complains, avoid interrupting and arguing. Allow them to express their concerns fully. Prompt them with open-ended questions to get them to talk more. This approach often helps them vent and, in turn, facilitates a more rational problem-solving discussion at the conversation’s conclusion.
“If you want enemies, excel your friends; but if you want friends, let your friends excel you.”—LA ROCHEFOUCAULD
Principle 7: Let the other person feel that the idea is his or hers.
Whenever you can, gently guide them to see the argument’s conclusion for themselves. Share all the ideas, state your point, and ask, “What do you think?” Listen closely, incorporating their input. This way, they feel it’s their idea, ending the conversation on a positive note. It works well for getting supervisors on board with workplace changes.
Principle 8: Try honestly to see things from the other person’s point of view.
If you’re puzzled by someone’s perspective, try this. Place yourself in their place and think why their perspective is like that. It often unveils hidden insights, fostering a better understanding and paving the way for problem-solving.
Principle 9: Be sympathetic with the other person’s ideas and desires.
Inevitably, someone will come to you with an untenable idea or desire that you can’t approve of. If so, at the very least, express your agreement with the emotions and thoughts that led to their recommendation.
Principle 10: Appeal to the nobler motives.
Even if you’re not sure if what someone is saying is correct, listen to them in a way that connects with their sense of what’s fair and just. Make them think about what’s right and wrong when they hear your response.
Principle 11: Dramatize your ideas.
If you have a great idea, think of how to incorporate it into a story. As you attempt to convey your theory, connect clearly to a human experience and share that narrative. Combining the concept into a tale will always make it work – that’s the reason fables stay around for thousands of years.
Principle 12: Throw down a challenge.
If your ideas and motivational speeches aren’t getting through, try to spark their competitive spirit without directly challenging them. Please encourage them to step up and take on the task with enthusiasm. This can boost their motivation and help them achieve their goal.
Part 4: Be a Leader: How to Change People Without Giving Offense or Arousing Resentment
This part explores methods for motivating and leading others.
Principle 1: Begin with praise and honest appreciation.
When addressing someone’s faults or critiquing an organization, begin by acknowledging their positive qualities and what you appreciate about them. Once you’ve highlighted these positive aspects, you can then address the issues or criticisms, creating a more constructive and balanced conversation.
Principle 2: Call attention to people’s mistakes indirectly.
When providing criticism, it’s more effective to do so indirectly by offering a positive alternative or suggestion. For instance, if you disagree with something I’ve written, instead of harshly critiquing it, you could suggest wording changes or alternative phrases that would make the argument more balanced. This indirect approach helps the person improve without feeling attacked.
Principle 3: Talk about your own mistakes before criticizing the other person.
Another effective way to blunt the sting of criticism is to tell of your faults and mistakes first. Suppose you are attempting to counsel someone regarding debt. To increase the impact of the advice, you could discuss your struggles with debt accumulation.
Principle 4: Ask questions instead of giving direct orders.
People dislike being told what to do. It is simpler to get individuals to comply when you ask them to do something, whether directly or indirectly. A slight phrase choice can make a big difference. “Bring me those books.” is not the same as “Could you bring me those books, please?”
“People are more likely to accept an order if they have had a part in the decision that caused the order to be issued.”— DALE CARNEGIE
Principle 5: Let the other person save face.
When you criticize or give feedback, provide room for the other person to save face by allowing them to correct the mistake. This shows fairness and compassionate leadership, gaining respect from others. Avoid immediate harsh actions to resolve issues.
Principle 6: Praise the slightest improvement and praise every improvement. Be “hearty in your approbation and lavish in your praise.”
When someone makes progress, please show your appreciation to them and others. In a workplace example, a team member improved their productivity from five to seven units a day. The boss acknowledged the effort, which boosted the person’s confidence, leading to even better results.
Principle 7: Give the other person a fine reputation to live up to.
When you introduce someone or mention them in a group setting, always talk them up. Establish a standard to fulfill as you present them, and they will work hard to achieve it. Conversely, if you remain silent or denigrate someone upon first meeting them, they will continue to live up to that abhorrent ideal.
Principle 8: Use encouragement. Make the fault seem easy to correct.
When offering advice to solve a problem, make it seem easy by giving simple, manageable steps. If you make the solution appear difficult, people might think it’s impossible and give up. Keep it achievable to boost their confidence in tackling the issue.
Principle 9: Make the other person happy about doing the thing you suggest.
When you need something from someone, relate it to what they’re proud of and compliment them in that area. Show them how their role fits into the larger goals to make them more willing to help. This approach encourages cooperation and enthusiasm in fulfilling your requests.
Other Key Insights from Carnegie’s Book
These are some further noteworthy points made by Carnegie.
Criticism is ineffective because it makes someone defensive and typically pushes them to defend themselves. Criticism can be harmful since it can engender animosity, damage a person’s sense of importance, and puncture their priceless pride. The majority of fools are capable of criticizing, condemning, and complaining. To be empathetic and forgiving, however, requires virtue and restraint.
The saying, “A great man shows his greatness by the way he treats little men,” is attributed to Thomas Carlyle.
People are Emotional
Remember that humans are not objects of logic when interacting with them. We are dealing with emotional beings that are driven by pride and conceit, brimming with prejudice.
The Key to Influencing Others
Talking about what they want and showing them how to acquire it is the only way to influence other people.
The Secret of Success
The capacity to understand other people’s perspectives and view situations from both your own and theirs is if there is one, key to success.
Dale Carnegie wrote How to Win Friends and Influence People for regular folks, and it became viral. Many people read it, and it even appeared in magazines like Reader’s Digest in 1937.
This book kept topping bestseller lists, and what’s interesting is that it was a big hit even in Nazi Germany, which surprised the author. In fact, Carnegie believed that being friendly was more effective than using force or violence.
He called his book an “action book,” but today, we see it as one of the first self-help books. Carnegie’s ground-breaking bestseller inspired many self-help books that followed.