How to Win Friends & Influence People (Book Summary)

What’s it about?

How to Win Friends & Influence People (1936) provides a masterclass in managing and dealing with people. From making a good first impression to disagreeing effectively, it contains all you need to know about becoming skillful, pleasant, and assured in your personal and business dealings.

About the author

Dale Carnegie (1888–1955) was an American speaker, author, and communication and motivation consultant. In his own lifetime, Carnegie’s professional training courses helped to advance the careers of almost half a million people, and his books have sold over 15 million copies.

Criticism is less effective than praise:

When you hear the name Al Capone, images of mob violence, corruption, and illicit protection rackets likely come to mind.

Whatever you know about the infamous gangster, you probably don’t picture him as a public benefactor or good-doer. One individual, though, did – Capone himself. “I’ve spent the finest years of my life giving people lighter joys, assisting them in having a nice time, and all I get is abuse, the existence of a hunted man,” he said. The infamous mobster who terrorized Chicago genuinely believed he was a good man.

What lessons can we draw from this? We, like Al Capone, feel we’re always in the right, no matter what we’ve done. Imagine how we feel when others criticize us if we find it difficult to critique ourselves.

The main point here is that praise is more powerful than criticism.

Criticizing others has the effect of putting them on the defensive. When someone tells them they’re incorrect; they take it personally. Their natural impulse is to rationalize their actions. Worse, even if the criticism was well-intentioned, people tend to hold grudges against those who criticize them.

So, what’s the answer? People indeed need to be pushed to modify their habits now and then. But what can we do if we can’t help them by criticizing them?

The answer is straightforward: we may congratulate them. Everyone wants to feel important and valued, and a few words of praise can get you closer to your goal than any amount of criticism or complaints.

That was Charles Schwab’s mindset, and he was a phenomenally successful steel tycoon. His ability to manage people, according to Schwab, was the key to his financial success. Unlike most senior executives, Schwab avoided criticizing others as much as possible. Instead, he concentrated on complimenting them.

In his decades of business expertise, Schwab has discovered that encouraging and appreciating individuals achieves significantly more than criticizing them. Praise motivates us to work harder and better, and it improves our relationships.

Make everyone you come into contact with feel valued and fascinating:

Consider the following scenario. You’ve returned home following a long day at work, and the moment you open the door, your dog leaps at you. Her tail is wagging, and she’s bouncing up and down with delight. You can’t help but smile when you see your adorable fuzzy pal.

If you own a dog, you know why people keep them as pets: it’s because of the way they make us feel. Dogs make excellent companions since they are unable to conceal their love for humans.

Dogs have a lesson to teach us, and they can help you make friends with puppy-like simplicity.

So, what is the human equivalent of a dog’s love? How do you demonstrate your kindness to a new acquaintance while also earning hers?

To begin with, you can cease attempting to be intriguing. It’s not going to work. People are rarely interested in the minutiae of other people’s life or pastimes. They are usually more concerned with themselves and their own life. So, if you want to win a stranger’s heart, show that you’re interested in him as well.

How are you going to do that? Start by expressing real delight when you meet someone. Smile at him and give him a warm welcome. Please make a point of remembering his name and using it in conversation. Said, show others that you enjoy being in their company.

And it doesn’t end there. It’s not enough to be warm and interested in people if you genuinely want to make a good impression on them. It would help if you also made them feel significant.

This lesson was learned personally by a landscape inspector who attended one of the author’s workshops. The man once praised a client on his beautiful pedigree dogs, sparking a lengthy discussion about the client’s enthusiasm for dog breeding. The inspector’s regard and genuine interest developed a pleasant, professional relationship and led to the customer buying him an expensive purebred dog as a parting gift.

When you show that you care about others and value their opinions, you’ll frequently receive wonderful and unexpected gifts.

Encourage others to speak up, and pay attention when they do:

President Abraham Lincoln summoned an old neighbor to the White House for counsel during the American Civil War. When he first arrived, Lincoln spent hours debating the emancipation of the South’s enslaved people. Was it a wise decision? Will the country as a whole respond favorably?

All evening, Lincoln walked back and forth, weighing the advantages and disadvantages of every potential course of action. He then finished everything, thanked his neighbor, and sent him home without receiving any advice from his old friend.

Lincoln didn’t need an advisor in the end; he had plenty of them. He needed someone to listen to him.

We all value good listeners, just as Lincoln did, but they appear to be in short supply. We all enjoy talking about ourselves — our accomplishments, concerns, pasts, and futures. But it isn’t how you make friends. That is how you lose them.

Nobody likes it when someone dominates a conversation. Take the opposite approach if you want to make a good first impression and win people’s hearts. Invite them to share details about their lives and hobbies with you, and pay close attention to what they have to say.

Do you wish to make friends with your coworker’s new guy? Ask him open-ended questions that he might enjoy answering, such as how he’s adjusting to his new job or if he has many interests. Also, don’t forget to pay attention. You’re better off not encouraging others to speak if you’re going to appear preoccupied and uninterested while they speak.

Take it from Theodore Roosevelt, who realized that engaging people in conversation about something they’re interested in is a surefire way to create friends. Roosevelt would read a book about one of his guests’ favorite topics every time he had an important meeting. That way, he could hold a knowledgeable and enjoyable conversation with everyone about their hobbies and interests.

It worked for Roosevelt, but you don’t have to do as much homework as he did. Share the spotlight, ask questions, and pay attention. Drawing people out will become second nature in no time, and making friends will be a breeze.

If you can’t avoid a debate, try to disagree gently:

What is the best way to win an argument? By tying up your opponent’s mind in knots? By demonstrating that your data and figures are accurate? Or by deftly pointing out a logical flaw in your opponent’s reasoning?

None of them are viable options. If you “win” such an argument, your opponent will resent you – and if your opponent resents you, you can bet he will never agree with you.

No one wins when disputes turn into full-fledged fights. It’s preferable to stay away from them as much as possible. However, since an argument is unavoidable at times, there are a few pointers to bear in mind if you find yourself in a scenario where you must argue your case.

Never mention the words “You’re wrong” if you want to persuade someone that what you’re saying is correct. Making your case so forcefully will not persuade your opponent to agree with you. Instead, she’ll take offense, stand firm in her beliefs, and do everything she can to prove you wrong.

It’s significantly more likely that a delicate and compassionate approach will work. Rather than trying to persuade your opponent to your point of view through force, try to persuade them with a polite inquiry.

But how can you persuade someone who doesn’t agree with you to work with you? The key is to admit the potential of being wrong. Say something along the lines of: “Well, you know, I could be wrong.” Let’s take a closer look at the facts. This is frequently enough to disarm an obstinate foe.

If you are proven to be incorrect, be gracious in defeat and endeavor to be the first to recognize your error. When you admit your mistakes ahead of time, others are more likely to take a gentler approach.

On the other hand, don’t be overjoyed if you’re correct. If you make your opponent feel humiliated, they are unlikely to change their mind.

Begin by convincing others to agree with you, and then slowly bring them to your conclusions:

Socrates, the ancient Greek philosopher, knew how to persuade people. He persuaded people to confirm things they’d never believed before by asking the right questions in the right way.

How did he pull it off? He made certain to put them in a positive frame of mind that he instilled in them the habit of saying yes.

And how did he manage it? He started his chats by making generalizations that everyone could agree on. Then, one by one, he began to steer the discourse into the more shady ground. He made his audience more likely to accept the difficult ideas, emphasizing the issues on which everyone could agree.

So, what can we take away from Socrates’ teachings?

It is worthwhile to emulate Socrates’ persuading method. If you can get folks to nod from the start, you’re halfway to persuading them that you’re correct.

A no, on the other hand, should be avoided at all costs. When someone rejects one of your points, it becomes extremely difficult to persuade him to change his view. People frequently become emotionally committed to defending publicly expressed ideas. Their reputation for wisdom and sound judgment is on the line, after all.

People also prefer their thoughts over those of others for the same reason. We gain a sense of independence by advancing our ideas. Accepting the opinions of others can feel like obeying commands at times.

So, what are your options for utilizing this data? Rather than trying to persuade others that your beliefs are correct, you can assist them in coming to their conclusions. You may often help others arrive at your findings on their own by getting them in an affirmative frame of mind and asking questions that correctly guide them.

Colonel Edward M. House employed this method when Woodrow Wilson was president. Rather than directly advising Wilson, the colonel would quietly mention a proposition he had made in conversation. Colonel House’s seed had taken root in Wilson’s head over time, to the point where he often believed the scheme was wholly his own!

Is it true that House corrected him? Not. People prefer their thoughts to those of others, he realized.

Make an effort to comprehend other people’s perspectives:

Jay Mangum was in a precarious position. He was a representative for an elevator repair firm, and he needed to schedule some work at a hotel.

The hotel manager didn’t want to shut the elevator down for more than two hours, so Jay knew the job would take all day. So, what exactly did Jay do? Did he say that the repairs couldn’t be rushed?

No. He paused for a while to consider things from the manager’s perspective. Jay assured him that he understood his desire to please the guests. However, he warned that if the repairs were not completed quickly, the elevator would require even more extensive repairs in the future.

The management, predictably, consented to the eight-hour shutdown.

Because he grasped the manager’s actual worries, Jay persuaded him to allow the renovations to proceed. Jay was well aware that the manager’s primary goal was to please his visitors. Because he recognized this, he convinced the management that delaying the repairs would be significantly more inconvenient in the long term.

Attempting to see things from another’s point of view is usually advantageous. It can not only help Jay overcome a difficult problem, but it can also earn people’s favor and generate a lot of goodwill.

Most people, you see, value sympathy. When tensions build, and tempers boil, a sympathetic remark is frequently all that’s required to put things right. A disgruntled customer or irritated friend may only require the words: “I get where you’re coming from.” I’d feel the same way if I were in your shoes.

Sympathizing with others might help you manage stress and impatience by making them feel better. You can become more tolerant of behaviors that bother and disturb you by understanding the variables that cause people to act the way they do.

When someone’s behavior irritates you, take a moment to try to see things from the other person’s perspective. What could be the reason for your colleague’s tardiness? Is there anything you might do to be nice and understanding to assist him in getting back on track?

Extending sympathy isn’t always simple, but it’s usually preferable to being upset for both you and the other person.

Set a high standard for yourself, and people will strive to meet it:

Ruth Hopkins, a fourth-grade teacher from Brooklyn, New York, was surprised on the first day of school. Tommy, the school’s top troublemaker, was now among her students after she’d been allocated a new class for the year.

Tommy was intelligent, but he was disobedient – his previous teacher had complained about him daily. What would Ruth’s reaction be?

Fortunately, she had devised a strategy. Ruth went around the class on the first day and commended each student. Ruth approached Tommy and informed him she’d heard he was a natural-born leader when she saw him. She stated that she was counting on him to make her fourth-grade class the best of the year.

Tommy’s behavior quickly improved as he realized he had to live up to such a high standard.

We, humans, crave praise and despise disappointing those who have faith in us. When we praise someone’s reputation, we can take advantage of both of these facts: our words of praise reward them for what they’ve already accomplished while simultaneously setting a high bar for future accomplishments.

To put it another way, if you want someone to develop a certain trait, talk to them as if they already have it. Praise your child for sharing with others if you want her to be more generous. Establish a positive image of her as a generous and giving child.

When Dr. Martin Fitzhugh observed that his office cleaner’s standards were dropping, he utilized this strategy. The dentist’s metal cup holder was filthy, according to a patient. Even if it was only the cup holder, it was a mistake that made Dr. Fitzhugh appear unprofessional.

Rather than reprimanding his cleaner, he wrote her a kind and appreciative note, thanking her for her hard work and praising her efforts. Then, as a side note, he stated that if she needed to work longer on occasion — to take care of tiny things like the cupholder – he could pay her extra.

What’s the result? The cleaner’s work improved dramatically after that, and she never had to work overtime again.

Praise and letting others know how much you value their work is nice, but it’s also a smart method to ensure that they’ll try just as hard in the future. If you can make it a habit and combine it with the other suggestions in these blinks, you’ll find it much easier to establish new friends and improve old ones in no time.

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