There are tons of “classics” out there that teach the fundamentals of business and self-development that essentially reiterate the same thing. After reading so many, I got pretty bored of seeing the same principles over and over again but How To Win Friends & Influence People by Dale Carnegie was probably the most recommended book in all of the interviews/podcasts I’ve listened to. So I figured to give it a read because there must be a reason this book is considered a “must-read” in many different fields.
It was definitely a very easy read, broken down into distinctive parts with many examples in each chapter. However, I was definitely astonished by the “wisdom” I felt through Carnegie’s writing and the principles he was teaching me through the book. All of the principles he discusses in the book are very simple (almost obvious), yet extremely powerful once you frame it correctly in your life. This is one of those books you have to re-read a few times throughout your life to remind yourself of. Below is a fairly straightforward summary of the book:
Part 1: Fundamental Techniques in Handling People
Chapter 1: Fundamental Techniques in Handling People
- 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 pride, hurts his sense of importance (everyone wants to feel important/wanted) and arouses resentment.
- Instead of condemning everyone, try to figure out why they are how they are. “To know all is to forgive all”
- “I will speak ill of no man… and speak all the good I know of everybody”
- Many great leaders stood out because of this principle. Men like Abraham Lincoln made it a point at some point in his life to never criticize anyone.
Chapter 2: The Big Secret of Dealing with People
- There is only one way to make someone do something, which is making them want to do it.
- The deepest craving in human nature is the craving to be appreciated.
- The best way to develop the best that is in a person is through appreciation and encouragement. – Charles Schwab
- Be anxious to praise and loath to find fault.
- “Once I did bad and that I heard ever/Twice I did good, but that I heard never”
- Let others know you appreciate them or something about them often
- There is a major difference between appreciation and flattery.
- Don’t just tell someone something small like “You’re doing great” or “Lookin good!”, but tell them HOW they’re doing great, or what about them looks good, etc…
- Tell others you appreciated something they did, for example: tell a chef of some restaurant that you really enjoyed his meal. Tell a hotel manager that your room was very well kept… etc.
Chapter 3: He Who Can do this Holds the Whole World with Him. He Who Cannot Walks a Lonely Way
- Think about things from other people’s perspective
- Put the other person’s wants before your own
- Convince this person of how something can benefit them
- Arouse in the other person an eager want
Part 2: Ways to Make People Like You
Chapter 1: Do This and You’ll be Welcome Anywhere
- You can make more friends in 2 months by becoming genuinely interested in other people than you can in two years trying to get people interested in you.
- We like people whom admire us.
- “We are interested in others when they are interested in us” – Publilius Syrus
- Greet people with animation and enthusiasm.
- Say Hello to people in a way that shows you are pleased to talk with them.
Chapter 2: A Simple Way to Make a Good Impression
- Actions speak louder than words. A smile says “I like you. You make me happy. I am glad to see you”
- Smile, don’t give an insincere grin. Insincere grins are mechanical and resented. Give real, heartwarming smiles that uplift the room.
- Smile even when on the phone. Your smile will come through the phone through your voice.
- You must have a good time meeting people if you expect them to have a good time meeting you.
- If you don’t feel like smiling, force yourself to smile. Act as if you were already happy, and that will tend to actually make you happy. Psychologist William James – “Action seems to follow feeling, but really action and feeling go together…. Thus the sovereign voluntary path to cheerfulness… is to sit up cheerfully and to act and speak as if cheerfulness was already there…”
- Your mental attitude determines your happiness. “There is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so” – Shakespeare
- To someone who has seen a dozen people scowl, frown, or turn away their faces, your smile will be like the sun breaking through the clouds.
Chapter 3: If You Don’t Do This, You are Headed for Trouble
- People value their name or whatever nickname it is that they go by.
- Remember people’s names. Make an effort to remember their names the first try. Don’t even spell the name wrong if you can.
Chapter 4: An Easy Way to Become a Good Conversationalist
- If you want to be a good conversationalist, be an attentive listener. To be interesting, be interested. Ask questions that people will enjoy answering. Encourage them to talk about themselves and their accomplishments.
Chapter 5: How to Interest People
- The royal road to a person’s heart is to talk about things he or she treasures most.
- Try and focus on what that person is interested in and talk about it. Theodore Roosevelt, before having a visitor in his office, used to study topics he knew his guest would be interested in discussing before they came over.
Chapter 6: How to Make People Like You Instantly
- Always make the other person feel important
- “Do unto others as you would have others do unto you”. If you want to be appreciated, feel important, worthwhile, give that feeling to others first.
Part 3: How to Win People to Your Way of Thinking
Chapter 1: You Can’t Win an Argument
- Avoid arguments like you would rattlesnakes or earthquakes. Most of the time, they’ll just make someone feel embarrassed, uncomfortable, or hurt their pride and make them feel inferior to you.
- There once was a truck salesman friend of Dale Carnegie. He wouldn’t sell many trucks because he would argue a lot with customers who would complain or make remarks about the trucks he would sell. After Dale advised him to stop arguing, the salesman became one of the best salesmen his company had ever seen. If someone said something like “I don’t want a white truck! I’m going to go buy _______ truck from (random company)!” The truck salesman could agree with the salesman that the competitor’s truck was indeed a good truck, and speak of its quality. THEN, he would go back and speak about the quality of the white truck he was trying to sell.
- A misunderstanding is never ended by an argument but by tact, diplomacy, conciliation and a sympathetic desire to see the other person’s viewpoint.
- If someone tries to argue with you and brings up a point you haven’t thought of, show them appreciation of that point and talk on that.
- Don’t trust your first instinct when you feel an argument coming up. Sometimes we react harshly when we feel we have to defend ourselves or a certain point. Sometimes it brings out the worst in us.
- Control your temper.
- Listen First. Give them a chance to talk and try to find understandings.
- Look for areas of agreement.
- Apologize for mistakes or errors you’ve made while arguing. Pride aside.
- Promise to think over your opponents’ ideas and study them carefully, and mean it. Your opponent could be right, and it’s better you check it out and learn then them say “I tried to tell you, but you wouldn’t listen”.
- Thank your opponents for their interest in what you were discussing and them wanting to improve upon what you believe.
- Perhaps postpone a debate/argument for a day so that you both can get your head clear and gather facts together. Gives you both more time to think through each other’s points and whether the argument is worth your friend’s pride or not. What might you lose if you win the argument?
Chapter 2: A Sure Way of Making Enemies — And How to Avoid It
- Telling someone they’re wrong is a direct blow at their intelligence, pride and self-respect. It doesn’t make them want to agree with you, but strike back.
- If you are going to prove anything, try not to let anyone know about it. Do it subtly and adroitly so that no one knows you’re doing it.
- Alexander Pope – “Men must be taught as if you taught them not, And things unknown proposed as things forgot”
- If a person makes a statement you KNOW is wrong, try saying something like “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”
- Using the term “I may be wrong. Let’s examine the facts” or something like it can do wonders.
- Respect other’s opinions and treat them courteously
- You will avoid trouble by admitting you may be wrong. That will stop all argument and inspire your opponent to be just as fair and open-minded as you are to the fact that he himself, could be wrong too.
- Don’t tell anyone they’re wrong about something. Use diplomacy to make your point.
Chapter 3: If You’re Wrong, Admit It
- Be humble by saying derogatory things about yourself you know the other person wants to say or intends to say – chances are they will then have a forgiving attitude towards you and minimize your mistakes in their minds.
- There is a certain degree of satisfaction which can be found in admitting one’s errors. It takes the guilt and defensiveness out of the air, but also helps solve the problem created by the error.
Chapter 4: A Drop of Honey
- If your temper is aroused and you go off on someone and tell them a thing or two, you might feel good afterwards, but how does that person feel? Do they want to agree with your points after you embarrassed them and attacked their pride?
- “If you come at me with your fists doubled, I think I can promise you that mine will double as fast as yours; but if you come to me and say ‘Let us sit down and take counsel together, and, if we differ from each other, understand why it is that we differ, just what the points at issue are,’ we will presently find that we are not so far apart after all, that the points on which we differ are few and the points on which we agree are many, and that if we only have the patience and the candor and the desire to get together, we will get together.” – Woodrow Wilson
- “So with men, if you would win a man to your cause, first convince him that you are his sincere friend”
- O.L. Straub, an engineer, needed to get his rent lowered or he wouldn’t be able to afford it. Instead of going in and trying to argue prices immediately or how ridiculously high the rent was, he discussed with the landlord how much he liked the apartments and how great of a job O.L. had done running the place. He then said he wanted to stay for another year but he simply couldn’t afford it. The landlord, as notoriously difficult to deal with as he was, actually went out of his way after to help O.L. achieve a lower and more affordable rent.
Chapter 5: The Secret of Socrates
- In talking with people, don’t start by discussing things of which you differ in. Instead, talk about…and keep emphasizing on, the things you have in common.
- Keep emphasizing, if possible, that you are both striving towards the same end and that your only difference is one of method and not of purpose. Try to keep your opponent saying “yes, yes” instead of “no”. Once in the “no” state, a person will try to remain consistent with that statement in order to keep up their pride.
- The skillful speaker will at first, get a lot of “yes” responses. This sets the psychological process of the listeners moving in the affirmative direction.
- Once in the “no” state, it takes a LOT of effort and wisdom to try and transform that bristling negative into an affirmative
- Ask questions which your opponent is forced to agree with (yes!). Keep on winning one admission after another until you have an armful of yeses to build upon, making your opponent possibly want to conclude with your side being right instead of their own.
Chapter 6: The Safety Valve in Handling Complaints
- Most people trying to win others to their way of thinking do too much talking themselves.
- Let the other person talk themselves out. They know a lot more about their business and problems than you do. So ask them questions and hear them out.
- If you disagree with them, don’t interrupt. Let them finish. If you interrupt, they’ll still have a stream of ideas running through their heads.
- Encourage them to express everything out.
- (side tip) Almost every successful person likes to reminisce about his early struggles (remember that for interviews or building rapport)
- “If you want to make enemies, excel your friends. If you want friends, let your friends excel you”. In other words, build your friends up. Listen to their accomplishments. Don’t boast about your own. Mention your achievements only when asked.
Chapter 7: How to Get Cooperation
- Most people prefer to feel that they are acting on their own ideas or buying on their own accord, not told or sold something.
- Let the person feel an idea is his or hers
- Ask for their ideas or advice about something
Chapter 8: A Formula that Will Work Wonders for You
- Remember to not condemn someone for being wrong, even if they are DEAD wrong. The wise try to understand why this person would say something like that.
- Try to put yourself in that person’s shoes and try to figure out why they act how they do or why they would say something like they did.
- Try to think through that person’s point of view and think why someone should want to adapt to your point of view, and also how they would like to hear what you are saying.
Chapter 9: What Everybody Wants
- One phrase that eliminates ill will, creates good will, and gets people listening to you better: “I don’t blame you one iota for feeling as you do. If I were you I would undoubtedly feel just as you do.” You can say this phrase 100% honestly too, because if you truly WERE that person, with their mindset and feelings and background, you really WOULD feel that way. Now if you were YOU in THEIR body, you may obviously think differently.
- Remember that no one typically deserves a lot of credit for being who they are. Their surroundings, upbringings, etc. help determine that.
- Three-fourths of the people you meet want sympathy. Give it to them and they will love you.
- Before you speak back to someone who has offended you or is debating you, remember to try and react differently than just anyone would. Respond how a wise person would react, not just any fool.
Chapter 10: An Appeal that Everybody Likes
- According to J. Pierpont Morgan, everybody usually has two reasons for doing anything: one that sounds good, and then their real reason.
- The person may know the real reason, but you don’t need to emphasize that. Instead, try appealing to a nobler cause (something that sounds good to your opponent/customer/boss/etc). Show them good motives behind agreeing to what your trying to convince them.
- Example: When John D. Rockefeller wanted newspaper photographers to stop taking pictures of his children, he appealed to nobler motives. He didn’t say “I don’t want these pictures taken”, but instead, said “You know how it is, boys. You’ve got children yourselves, some of you. And you know it’s not good for youngsters to get too much publicity.”
Chapter 11: The Movies Do it. TV Does it. Why Don’t You Do it?
- Dramatization: The truth has to be vivid, interesting, dramatic… you have to use showmanship. Do this if you want attention.
- This does not mean lying, but saying something that dramatizes the importance of something that you’re talking about or trying to convey.
Chapter 12: When Nothing Else Works, Try This
- Stimulate competition, not in a sordid money-getting, but in the desire to excel.
- People love the chance to express themselves, their worth, and to show their importance.
- Examples of things to say to stimulate completion:
“I didn’t realize you were lazy/a coward/quitter/etc…”
“You’re right. You probably shouldn’t take that class. Only smart people can pass that class”
Part 4: Be a Leader: How to Change People Without Giving Offense or Arousing Resentment
Chapter 1: If You Must Find Fault, This is the Way to Begin
- It is always more comfortable to hear something unpleasant about ourselves after we have heard some praise about one of our good points.
- A barber always lathers a man before he shaves him
- Imagine a dentist about to perform drilling. Yes, the patient is about to get drilled, but the dentist gives him Novacain to dull the pain.
Chapter 2: How to Criticize — and Not Be Hated for It
- Many people begin their criticism with sincere praise, but then follow it with the word “but” and end with a critical statement, such as “I’ve got to say bro, you’re looking swole, but your legs make it look like you don’t even lift”.
- Once someone hears the “but”, it makes them question the sincerity of the praise and that it was only put there to cushion the insult coming.
- Try replacing the word “but” with “and”. Example: “I’ve got to say bro, you’re looking thick, solid, tight… and if you work your legs a bit harder people will def. think you’re shredded”
- The praise now comes off as sincere and may make that person want to live up to our expectations
Chapter 3: Talk About Your Own Mistakes First
- It feels a lot better to hear someone talk about their faults and kind of “get down on your level” in a sense before they point out yours.
- Admitting one’s own mistakes – even when one has corrected them – can help convince someone to change their behavior.
Chapter 4: No One Likes to Take Orders
- Giving suggestions instead of giving orders saves a person’s pride and gives him a sense of importance. It encourages cooperation instead of rebellion.
- Asking questions instead of ordering someone around can make an order seem more palatable and often stimulates the creativity of the person’s you ask. Example: “DO THIS!” versus “You think it’d be a good idea to try this next time..?”
Chapter 5: Let the Other Person Save Face
- “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.” – Antoine de Saint-Exupery
- Don’t belittle a person basically
Chapter 6: How to Spur People to Success
- Praise people on their improvements.
- Words of praise can change someone’s life. Can you think of a moment where someone’s praise encouraged you and led you to becoming more successful?
- Enrico Caruso, one of the greatest and most successful opera singers, was once told by a teacher when he was 10 that he couldn’t sing. His mother’s praise was what helped motivate him to continue trying anyway.
- Give specific praise. Not just short flattery.
- Abilities wither under criticism; they blossom under encouragement.
Chapter 7: Give a Dog a Good Name
- “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.”
- If you want to improve a person in a certain spect, act as though that particular trait were already one of his or her outstanding characteristics.
- For an example, instead of firing someone for slipping up, first try telling them what a valuable asset they have been in the past (if they truly have), and tell them they’ve been slipping up a bit lately and that you would like to work with them to help fix this problem.
- Change the person’s attitude or behavior by giving them a big reputation to lead up to. Example: Telling them they have the qualities of a leader and you can see it by their work ethic. Perhaps the person will start working harder after that to live up to that reputation.
Chapter 8: Make the Fault Seem Easy to Correct
- Praise someone’s good points and minimize the person’s faults. You could say something like “All it would take is a little _________ and you could be great!”
- Let the other person know you have faith in them to get over that obstacle.
Chapter 9: Making People Glad to Do What You Want
- Always make the other person happy about doing what you have suggested.
- Be sincere. Do not promise anything you can’t deliver.
- Know exactly what it is you want the other person to do.
- Be empathetic. Ask yourself what it is the other person really wants.
- Consider the benefits the person will receive from doing what you suggest.
- Match those benefits to the person’s wants.
- When you make a request, put it in a form that shows the other person how they will benefit from it.