How to Win Friends and Influence People (book summary)

17 min read

This book is a timeless classic by Dale Carnegie. In this book Carnegie goes into great depth about how to win hearts of everyone around you - employees, employers, students, mentors, friends, spouses, children etc. Carnegie provides countless examples and specific action to be taken to practice a lifestyle that involves winning friends and influencing people.

Fundamental Techniques in Handling People

1. Don’t criticize, condemn, or complain:

Criticism is futile and it makes the opposite person on the defensive and make them strive to justify themselves. Any fool can criticize, condemn and complain- and most fools do. But it takes character and self-control to be understanding and forgiving.

2. Give honest and sincere appreciation:

There is only one way to get anyone to do anything - by making them want to do it. There is no other way. Dr. John Dewey said that the deepest urge in human nature is “the desire to be important”. This desire to be important makes poverty-stricken grocery clerk to study law books (Lincoln), or for Dickens to be inspired to write his immortal novels.

Charles Schwab was the first person in America to be paid a million dollars a year - because of his ability to deal with people. Schwab considered his greatest asset to be his ability to arouse enthusiasm among his people. The way he did it was with appreciation and encouragement.

All humans need a nourishing dose of self esteem. And providing others this nourishment of and nurturing in the form of kind words of appreciation is greatly accepted and appreciated.

Honest appreciation is not to be confused with flattery. Flattery is shallow, selfish and insincere.

True appreciation is honest, and is sincere, without expecting anything in return but a smile from the recipient and to make someones day better.

People crave the feeling of importance. Make someone feel important and they will think well of you. Diminish someone’s importance and they will resent you.

3. Arouse in the other person an eager want

Appeal to the other person’s interests. Virtually all people care more about what they want than what you want. You wouldn’t go fishing with cheesecake as a lure, since fish don’t like cheesecake. Go fishing with worms.

Keep asking yourself - “what is it that this person wants?” Everyone has something they can teach you, and you benefit by figuring out what that is. This belief leads to a genuine interest and appreciation for other people.

Angry people are often angry because they feel unheard. Once you sympathize with them, they will soften their anger substantially.

If there is one secret to success, it lies in the ability to get the other persons point of view and see things from that person’s angle as well as your own.

The world is so full of people who are grabbing and self-seeking, that an unselfish individual who is willing to help others just to be helpful has a huge advantage and no competition.

Six Ways to Make People Like You

1. Become genuinely interested in other people

It is interesting to see that the dog is the only animal that does not “work” - unlike hen (lays eggs), cow (gives milk), canary (sings). Dogs make a living nothing but love.

You can make more friends in 2 months by being interested in other people that you can in 2 years by trying to get other people interested in you.

Everyone loves to be listened to and be appreciated. When we start with the recipient and their needs and wants, there is a much bigger and better chance for them to be amiable and warm and kind to you.

2. Smile

Smiling makes a good first impression. If you don’t feel like smiling, force yourself to smile (the action of smiling brings out the feeling of happiness and makes one want to smile more.)

Everyone in the world is looking for happiness, and the sure way to find it is by looking inwards and finding that in your heart.

3. A person loves their name.

A person’s name is the most important word in any language to them. Use it often and respect it. Remember a name and call it easily, and you have paid an effective compliment to the recipient (that their name is worth remembering), forget it or misspell it and you have placed yourself at a sharp disadvantage.

Andrew Carnegie remembered and honored many of his workers name, because of which there was never a strike or an issue under his leadership. All the employees felt loved and heard.

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

When people are heard, it helps dissolve anger and helps them feel heard. Many a times just listening to a disgruntled customer helps deescalate the situation.

Being a good listener is also a good way of becoming a good conversationalist. The more you listen to someone, the more they feel heard and important, and the more they enjoy your company.

5. Talk in terms of the other person’s interests

If your recipient is interested in books, starting a conversation with that interest is a great ice-breaker, and establishes a wonderful common ground to setup a communication pattern/style.

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

Doing this will make people like you instantaneously. Everyone has admirable qualities, and finding those and highlighting them - without having an agenda to sell to them - but only focusing on making them happy - will bring you a long way in building a personal connection with them. This approach could be used with someone you have just met, or others who you have known for years.

Emerson said - “Every man that I meet is mu superior in some way. In that, I learn of him.” Finding that superior quality and highlighting it with honestly is a wonderful quality that makes people like you instantaneously.

How to Win People to Your Way of Thinking

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

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.

Buddha said - Hatred is never ended by hatred but by love. And a misunderstanding is never ended by argument but by tact, diplomacy, conciliation and a sympathetic desire to see the other person’s point of view.

2. Show respect to the other person’s opinions. Never say, “You’re wrong”

Instead, approach with an open-minded view: “I may be wrong. I often am. And if I’m wrong, I want to change and be right. Let’s discuss the facts.” Praise the other person for a trait that will help resolve the argument - like their patience, open-mindedness, fairness, and receptivity to new facts.

Understand that the other person has a valid view of the situation. If you were born as them with their brain and undergoing their experiences, you would by definition feel the same way they do. Your job is to understand what led them to believe what they believe. Express sympathy for their situation. “You have the absolute right to be upset. If I were in your shoes, I would be too.”

To influence people to do things, praise and appreciation are more effective than orders. Don’t start by criticizing or complaining. This makes them defensive and rationalize their actions. Instead, praising them lowers their defenses, and they’ll be more receptive to your feedback.

It is important to be diplomatic and look at all points of view.

3. If you are wrong, admit it quickly and emphatically

Humility and acceptance of being wrong is a huge virtue. It readily disarms the recipient and moves the conversation from “who is right”, to “how do we fix this”? This strategy readily brings people together, and often brings the opposite person to your rescue by dismissing your mistakes as - “not that big”, and “easy to fix”.

4. Begin in a friendly way

Starting any conversation with anger or antagonism will only make the recipient feel a similar level of anger. Beginning a tough conversation in a friendly way prompts the recipient to match your disposition, making it much more conducive to reach an agreement quickly.

5. Get the other person saying “yes” immediately

When talking to people, begin with topics and things that you know you agree on. Keep emphasizing that you both have the same goals, and the same destination, and just a slight difference in method to get to the goal.

Getting listeners to a “yes” quickly gets their psychological process moving in the affirmative direction.

It takes a lot of energy and effort to convert a “no” into a “yes” (even if it is about different topics). But starting with “yes” and agreeing on topics makes it easier to agree on other topics.

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

Listen first. Give your opponents a chance to talk through. Do NOT interrupt as they’re speaking.

Ask people where they feel the problems are. Ask for their opinions on how best to proceed. Ask lots of questions instead of stating commands.

When people are talking, they can often talk themselves out of the negatives, and focus on the positives.

Letting others talk always leads to a more favorable outcome as compared to forcing them to listen to you and follow your direction.

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

A manager of an automobile company asked his sales people what qualities they expected out of him, and wrote them out. He then asked them what qualities he ought to expect out of them - to which they readily listed qualities they should have. The manager made the sales people come up with their own goals for qualities they should possess - which made them want to achieve it because it was their own idea.

Similarly, an artist used to create sketches for buyers and was going through a rough spell with acceptance of his work. So he took some half finished sketches to the buyer and asked the buyer how they expected the sketches to be completed. With the buyers feedback the artist was able to make all the sketches to the buyers liking and get back into the grove of selling all of his sketches.

To get results, one needs to lead the recipient into thinking in your way, and then get them to reach your thought process/idea on their own accord.

It is very effective to execute an idea when the stakeholders believe that they have come to the ideas on their own accord.

8. Try honestly to see things from the other person’s perspective

A woman was 6 weeks behind in her car payments, and received a call from the man who was handling her account. Accepting the worst, she thought of the situation from his perspective rather than her own, and admitted to being late on her payment - and possible a very challenging customer for the man - and thereby apologizing. Her empathy to his situation softened him a little and he worked with her to come up with a better way to deal with the car payments.

Looking at things from another persons perspective sheds new light on the situation - which is always a good position to be in when problem solving.

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

There is a magic phrase to stop arguments, eliminate ill feeling, create good will and make the other person listen attentively:

“I don’t blame you one bit for feeling the way you do. If I were you I would probably be feeling the same way.”

Using a phrase like this can soften the most antagonistic, defensive or cantankerous people.

Three-fourths of the people that one meets are hungry for sympathy, and if you give it to them - they will love you.

Responding to anger or insult with kindness is another way of accepting the opposite persons viewpoint and agreeing with it - a pretty effective way to shut down a bully.

10. Appeal to the nobler motives

J. Pierpont Morgan observed that a person usually has 2 reasons for doing a thing: One that sounds good, and a real one.

In order to change people - appeal to the nobler motive.

E.g. is someone is trying to break a lease (against the lease agreement), appeal to their nobler virtue of being a person of their word, about morals and ethics, as opposed to creating a scene and being angry about the possibility of legal action.

When you don’t know anything about someone, assume that they are sincere, honest and truthful and proceed conversations from that perspective.

11. Dramatize your ideas

This is the day of dramatization. Merely stating a truth isn’t enough. The truth has to be made vivid, interesting, dramatic. You have to use showmanship. The movies do it, TV does it, and you have to do it if you want attention.

“You are losing pennies to the dollar” he said as he dramatically dropped several pennies to the grown. The dramatization had a much bigger impact as compared to simply mentioning the statement.

12. Throw down a challenge

Charles Schwab said - “the way to get things done, is to simulate competition. Not in a sordid money-getting way, but in the desire to excel. “

Simulating the desire to excel enables create healthy competition to be better - than ourselves, than our competition.

Frederic Herzberg (behavioral scientist) discovered through his work that the most important motivator for people was the actual work - not benefits, not working conditions, and not fringe benefits - but the actual work.

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

A leaders job often includes changing your people’s attitudes and behavior. Some suggestions to accomplish this:

1. Begin with praise and honest appreciation

It is always listen to unpleasant things after we have heard some praise about our good points. So if any feedback needs to be given, start with good points of the recipient, and how great they are, and then follow up with criticisms. People are more likely to make improvements when information is presented to them in a kind manner.

2. Call attention to people’s mistakes indirectly

This is an effective way to criticize, and yet not be hated for it. Charles Schwab was passing through one of his steel mills when he noticed some of his employees smoking right below the “no smoking” sign. Instead of calling them out on this, he used an alternate technique. He gave each one of his employees a cigar and then said - “I’ll appreciate it, boys, if you smoke this on the outside.” He was able to get his message through and simultaneously made his employees feel important. It is hard not to love a person like that.

Using the word “but” after giving praise totally negates the praises, and makes them feel like empty statements. E.g. “We are proud of you for your grades this semester, but you could have gotten better grades if you worked harder in Algebra” vs “We are proud of you for your grades this semester, and you can get even better grades if you continue working this way.”

The second approach is way more effective than the first one.

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

It isn’t nearly as difficult to listen to your own faults, when the person telling you your faults is admitting that he too is far from impeccable.

E.g. Dale Carnegie needed to criticize his secretary for something, but before he said anything, he took a step back to consider the situation from her perspective and point of you and age, and realized that when he was that age, he made many more mistakes than her. He started off his criticisms by mentioning that fact, and then gently suggesting the request he had of her - it was readily accepted.

4. Ask questions instead of giving direct orders

Asking questions makes the order more palatable, and often simulates the creativity of the persons whom you ask. People are more likely to accept an order if they have had a part in the decision that caused the order to be issued.

E.g. “what do you think of this?”, “Do you think this would work?”

It might be more time consuming in the short term, but much more effective in the long term.

5. Let the other person save face

We bulldoze over the feelings of others, getting our own way, finding faults, issuing threats, criticizing a child or an employee in front of others, without even considering the hurt to the other persons pride.

A Fresh aviation pioneer once said = “I have no right to do or say 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. “

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

When you praise someone, instead of finding faults, people start capitalizing on their praise and improving what they are already good at. People appreciate it when they are called out on their positive qualities.

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

If you want to improve a person in a certain respect, act as though that particular trait were already one of this or her outstanding characteristics.

E.g. You are a phenomenal mechanic, and you have done great work in the past few years. Off late things are not the same way, and maybe we can come up with a solution for it?

Making the recipient realize their own qualities helps them build their own self esteem and set up a target for them to reach - all by their own initiative.

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

It is way easier to climb a molehill instead of a mountain. If the fault is describe as the magnitude of a molehill, instead of a mountain, a person is more likely to readily work on it to fix it.

9. Make the other person happy about doing the things you suggest

E.g. if you cannot do a speaking engagement, suggest alternatives who are more likely to accept. It gives the recipient the chance to focus on next steps rather than being disappointed about your refusal.

Think about what the other person wants, and try to help the best you can to mitigate their own problems and satisfy their wants - while you make your suggestions.

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