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How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie

03 May, 2020 - 23 min read


I. Brief Summary

Dale Carnegie’s work is masterpiece of self-help and persuasive writing. Although not a fan of self-help books, the classic (1936) covers genuine lessons on how to treat others respectfully and graciously. More importantly, I enjoyed learning about history that was relevant during 1930s. Carnegie uncovers lessons learned by industrialists, presidents, authors, creatives, professors, middle-managers and so many more.

II. Big Ideas

Dale Carnegie's writes and shares his big ideas broken down into 4 sections with each section consisting of several principles.

Part I: Fundamental Techniques in handling people

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

  • Ninety-nine times out of a hundred, people don't criticize themselves for anything, no matter how wrong it may be.
  • Criticism is dangerous, because it wound a person's precious pride, hurts the sense of importance, and arouses resentment.
  • B.F. Skinner experiment found animal rewarded for good behavior will learn much more rapidly and retain what it learns far more effectively than an animal punished for bad behavior.
  • Abraham Lincoln's personal incident in life taught him the most invaluable lessons in art of dealing with people. Never again did he write an insulting letter or ridicule anyone. During the Civil War, when Mrs. Lincoln and others spoke harshly of the southern people, Lincoln replied: “Don't criticize them; they are just what we would be under similar circumstances.” Lincoln would write letters to his Generals when he was not happy with the outcomes, but the Generals would never see those letters. Why? Because he would never mail them. These letter were found after his death. Lincoln put the letters aside, for he had learned by one experience that sharp criticisms and rebukes almost invariably end in futility. A nice trick to reduce giving criticisms is to pull out a $5 bill and look at Lincoln's face, and ask: “What would Lincoln do?”
  • Mark Twain used similar tricks like Abraham Lincoln. He would lose his temper occasionally and write letters to blow off steam, and the letters didn't do real harm. The letters were never mailed because his wife secretly lifted them out of the mail.
  • 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.
  • Benjamin Franklin in his own words at an early age, “I will speak ill of no man and speak all good I know of everybody.”
  • Any fool can criticize, condemn and complain— and most fools do. But it takes character and self-control to be understanding and forgiving.
  • Often parents are tempted to criticize their children. Before you criticize them, read one of the classics of American journalism, “Father Forgets.” It's about a father who realizes that he had only criticized his boy when the little boy was just doing his thing.
  • Instead of condemning people, try to understand them.

Principle 2: Give honest, sincere appreciation.

  • Sigmund Freud said that everything that you and I do springs from two motives: the sex urge and the desire to be great.
  • John Dewey, one of America's most profound philosophers said that the deepest urge in human nature is the desire to be important.
  • Lincoln once began a letter saying: “Everybody likes a compliment.”
  • William James said: “The deepest principle in human nature is the craving to be appreciated.”
  • Feeling appreciated is human hunger. Animals don't have a desire to feel important but the humans do.
  • Rockefeller gave his employees the feeling of importance because he knew the value of it. When one of his partners lost a million dollars for the firm by a bad guy in South America, he might have criticized; but he knew he had done his best to save 60 percent of the money Rockefeller had invested. Instead of criticizing, he praised his partner for saving the money.
  • There are more patients suffering from mental diseases in the United States than from all other diseases combined (this statement was made in 1936 and we are still facing the issue). What is the cause of the insanity? No one knows for sure, but according to this doctor with high honors attributed this insanity to a feeling of unimportant that they were unable to achieve in the world of reality.
  • Charles Schwab was one of the highest paid American business executive in 1921. Andrew Carnegie paid him a salary over million dollars. Schwab credited this success largely because of his ability to deal with people. In his own words, “I consider my ability to arouse enthusiasm among my people. The greatest asset I possess, and the way to develop the best that is in a person is by appreciation and encouragement. There is nothing else that so kills the ambitions of a person as criticisms from superiors. I never criticize anyone. I believe in giving a person incentive to work. So I am anxious to praise but loath to find fault. If I like anything, I am hearty in my approbation and lavish in my praise.”
  • Most people do opposite of what Schwab did.
  • A man was asked by his wife to list six things she could do to become a better wife. The man asked for some time to think about it and give her the answer next morning. The next morning, the wife received six red roses with a note saying: “I can't think of six things I would like to change about you. I love the way you are.” The wife teared up when she greeted the husband at the door.
  • 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. The difference between flattery and appreciation is simple: one is sincere and the other is insincere, one comes with heart out and the other from teeth out, one is selfish and the other is unselfish and one is universally admired and the other is not.
  • Nothing pleases children more than the parental interest and approval.

Principle 3: Arouse in the other person as eager want.

  • The only way on earth to influence other people is to talk about what they want and show them how to get it. If you don't want your children to smoke, don't preach at them, and don't talk what you want, but show them that how smoking can keep them from making the basketball team.
  • Why do people make donation to Red Cross? Because they want to feel good about themselves. If they had not wanted that feeling more than they wanted money, they would have not made the donation.
  • When people are dissatisfied with customer service, they last out at them. Instead of sympathizing with them, they threaten them. To resolve the issues you must understand the point of view of other side. Henry Ford said: “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.”
  • When a large corporation communicates with their employees, many fail to understand the desire of their employees. Who cares what the company wants? Employees are worried about their own problems: mortgage, healthcare, family, etc.
  • Salespeople are pounding people with goods and services without thinking what their customers want.
  • The world is full of people who are grabbing and self-seeking. So the rare individual who unselfishly tries to server others has an enormous advantage and little competition.
  • The author ask his readers if there is one thing that needs to be taken away from this book, it is this: an increased tendency to think always in terms of other people's point of view, and see things from their angle.
  • Negotiation is not a zero-sum game. Each party should gain from negotiation.
  • Parents often make mistakes on understanding what their kids want.

Part II: Six ways to make people like you

Principle 1: Become genuinely interested in people.

  • Dog is the only animal that doesn't have to work for a living. A hen has to lay eggs, a cow has to give milk, and a canary has to sing. But a dog makes his living by giving nothing but love.
  • If the author doesn't like people, people won't like his or her stories.
  • Theodore Roosevelt greeted all the White House servants by name, even the scullery maids. When Roosevelt visited the White House after his term, the head usher said with tears: “It is the only happy day we had in nearly two years, and not one of us would exchange it for a hundred-dollar bill.”
  • If we want to make friends, let's greet people with animation and enthusiasm.

Principle 2: Smile.

  • Charles Schwab once said his smile had been worth a million bucks. A baby's smile has the same effect.
  • There's far more information in a smile than a frown. That's why encouragement is a much more effective teaching device than punishment.
  • You must have a good time meeting people if you expect them to have a good time meeting you.
  • Smile when you don't feel like doing so. Action seems to follow feeling, but really action and feeling go together; and by regulating action, which is under the more direct control of the will, we can indirectly regulate the feeling, which is not.
  • It isn't what you have or who you are or where you are or what you are doing that makes you happy or unhappy. It is what you think about it. Abe Lincoln once said: “Most folks are about as happy as they make up their minds to be.”
  • Do not fear being misunderstood and do not waste a minute thinking about your enemies.
  • Chinese proverb: “A man without a smiling face must open a shop.” Your smile is a messenger of a good will.

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

  • Jim Farley deliberately remembered everyone's name (50,000 people) that came across him. Why is he important? Because he was the campaign manager for Franklin D. Roosevelt. Without him, Roosevelt would've not made it to White House.
  • Farley discovered early in life that the average person is more interested in his or her own name than in all the other names on earth put together.
  • You gain compliment when you recall someone's name, but you have a sharp disadvantage when you forget or misspell it.
  • Andrew Carnegie discovered a rabbit and a whole nest of little rabbits as a young boy. But he didn't have enough food for the new born rabbits. So he told the boys and girls in the neighborhood that if they would out and pull enough clover and dandelions to feed the rabbits, he would name the bunnies in their honor.
  • Carnegie translated the same psychology into business world. He would name steel mills after his clients. This is how he won deals. This was a secret to Andrew Carnegie's leadership.
  • Names are so important that major universities take in donations and name the buildings after the donor.
  • In politics, recalling a voter's name is statesmanship. To forget it is oblivion.
  • Napoleon, the Thirds, Emperor of France deliberately remembered everyone's name. If he didn't catch the name, he would ask the person to repeat it again. He would even go one step further by asking how is it spelled. During the conversation, he would repeat the name several times and associate it with features, expression and general appearance for easy recall.
  • Remembering names takes time and that is why many don't do it. Emerson said: “Good manners are made up of petty sacrifices.”

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

  • How to have an interesting conversation? Listen intently with genuine interest.
  • Harvard president, Charles W.Eliot once said: “There is no mystery about successful business intercourse....Exclusive attention to the person who is speaking to you is very important. Nothing else is so flattering as that.” You don't have to study for four years in Harvard to discover that.
  • Listening is not silence, but an activity by listening attentively, patiently waiting for your turn and not letting the temptation of interrupting kick in. This allows the other person to get into receptive mood.
  • Lincoln would invite his neighbor from Springfield to DC just so his neighbor could listen. This was Lincoln's way of saying things out loud by doing all the talking himself.
  • Isaac F. Marcosson, a journalist who interviewed hundreds of celebrities thought many people fail to make a favorable impression because they don't listen attentively. They are concerned with what they are going to say next that they do not keep their ears open.

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

  • Roosevelt knew that all leaders royal road to people's heart is to talk about the things he or she treasures most.
  • Whenever Roosevelt expected a visitor, he sat up late the night before, reading up on the subject in which he knew his guest was particularly interested.

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

  • One should never make someone important so they can something back in return.
  • By being selfish we will never radiate a little happiness and pass on a bit honest appreciation without trying to get something out of the other person in return—if our souls are no bigger than sour crab apples, we shall meet with the failure we so richly deserve.
  • Carry out an act of kindness and sincere heartful appreciation because of wanting something priceless.
  • An important law of human conduct: always make the other person feel important.
  • Ancient philosophers have been speculating on the rules of human relationships for thousands of years, and out of all the speculation, there has evolved only one important concept. It is not new. It is as old as history. Zoroaster, Confucius, Lao-tse, Buddha, Hinduism and Jesus have all been preaching this concept: “Do unto others as you would have others do unto you.”
  • As Schwab said: “Be hearty in their approbation and lavish in the praise.”
  • Little phrases such as such as “Thank you,” “I am sorry to trouble you,” “Please,” or “Would you mind?” will oil the cogs of the monotonous grind of everyday life. They are the hallmark of good breeding.
  • As Shakespeare put it: “...man, proud man,/Drest in a little brief authority,/...Plays such fantastic tricks before high heaven/As make the angels weep.”
  • Ignore those who frequently have the least justification for a feeling of achievement bolster up their egos by a show of tumult and conceit.
  • This principle is applicable to elderly folks. In the isolated loneliness of old age, an elderly will crave a little human warmth, a sincere appreciation.
  • Talk to people about themselves and they will listen for hours.

Part III. How to win people to your way of thinking

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

  • Why argue with someone who has not asked for your opinion? Always avoid arguments because that is the only way to high heaven.
  • Ben Franklin said: “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 goodwill.
  • One argues because the person wants the feeling of importance by loudly asserting his or her authority.
  • Buddha said: “Hatred is never ended by love.”
  • Lincoln once said: “Yield larger things to which you show no more than equal rights; and yield lesser ones though clearly your own. Better give your path to a dog than be bitten y him in contesting for the right. Even killing the dog would not cure the bite.”
  • In an article in Bits and Pieces, some suggestions are made on how to keep a disagreement from becoming an argument:

    • Welcome the disagreement.
    • Distrust your first instinctive impression.
    • Control your temper.
    • Listen first.
    • Look for areas of agreement.
    • Be honest.
    • Promise to think over your opponent's ideas and study them carefully.
    • Thank your opponents sincerely for their interest.
    • Postpone action to give both sides time to think through the problem.
  • When two people yell, there is no communication, just noise and vibrations. So one should listen when the other yells. A very sound advice for married couple.

Principle 2: Show respect for the other person's opinions. Never say, “You're wrong.”

  • 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 diplomacy.
  • Benjamin Franklin conquered diplomacy by forbearing all direct contradiction to the sentiment of others, and all positive assertion of his own.
  • When we are wrong, we admit it to ourselves. And, if handled gently and tactfully, we may admit it to others and even take pride in our frankness and open-mindedness.
  • From the book On Becoming a Person, our first reaction to most of the statements are an evaluation or judgement, rather than an understanding of it. When someone expresses some feeling, attitude or belief, our immediate reaction is “that is right,” or “that is stupid,” or “that is unreasonable,” or “that is incorrect.” Very rarely do we permit ourselves to understand precisely what the meaning of the statement is to other person.
  • From the book, The Mind in the Making, we sometimes find ourselves changing our minds without any resistance or heavy emotion, but if we are told we are wrong, we resent and harden our hearts. We are extremely careless in the formation of our beliefs, but find ourselves filled with extreme passion for them when anyone proposes to rob us of their companionship. It is obviously not the ideas themselves thar are dear to us, but our self-esteem which is threatened....The little word “my” is the most important one in human affairs, and properly to reckon with it is the beginning of wisdom. It has the same force whether it is “my” dinner, dog, etc....We like to continue to believe what we have been accustomed to accept as true, and the resentment aroused when doubt is cast upon any of our assumptions leads us to seek every manner of excuse for clinging to it. The result is that most of our so-called reasoning consists in finding arguments for going on believing as we already do.
  • Few people are logical. Most of us are prejudiced and biased. Most of us are delighted with preconceived notions, with jealousy, suspicion, fear, envy and pride. And most citizens don't want to change their minds about their religion, or their haircut, or communism or favorite movie star.
  • So, before you point to someone they are wrong, admit that you may be wrong too. That will stop all argument and inspire your opponent to be just as fair and open and broadminded as you are. It will admit the other person to admit that he or she might be wrong too.
  • Socrates said: “One thing only I know, and that is I know nothing.” Well none of us are smarter than Socrates so quit telling people they are wrong.
  • Galielo once said: “You cannot teach a man anything; you can only help him to find it within himself.”

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

  • “If you are wrong, admit it quickly and emphatically.” — Dale Carnegie
  • “By fighting you never get enough, but by yielding you get more than you expected.”

Principle 4: Begin a friendly way.

  • If your temper is aroused and you tell them 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?
  • Lincoln said: “It is an old and true maxim that a drop of honey catches more flies than a gallon of gall. So with men, if you would win a man to your cause, first convince him that you are his sincere friend. There in a drop of honey that catches his heart; which, say what you will, is the great high road to his reason.”

Principle 5: Get the other person saying “yes” “yes” immediately.

  • In talking with people, don't begin by discussing the things on which you differ. Begin by emphasizing–the things on which you agree. The flow of “yes” at the outset will keep your opponent from possibly saying “no.”
  • Socrates was one of the wisest persuaders because he got everyone around him to say yes. Getting people to say yes from the outset is now called the “Socratic Method.” He kept on asking questions until his opponents agreed without even realizing it.
  • Chinese proverb: “He who treads softly goes far.”

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

  • Most people trying to win others to their way of thinking do too much talking themselves. Let the other people talk themselves out. They know more about their business and problems than you do. So ask them questions. Let them tell you a few things.

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

  • Consulting people about their wishes and desires will give them the boost they much needed.

Principle 8: Try honestly to see things from the other person's point of view.

  • 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.
  • Always think in term of the other person's point of view, and see things from that person's angle as well as your own.

Principle 9: Be sympathetic with other people's ideas and desires.

  • Being sympathetic will stop arguments, eliminate ill feeling, create good will and make other person listen attentively.
  • Ever wondered why children display their injury eagerly? It is because sympathy the human species universally craves. Self-pity is true for adults as well but being sympathetic will earn you a good will.

Principle 10: Appeal to the nobler motives.

  • When no information can be secured about the other person, the only sound basis on which to proceed is to assume that he or she is sincere and honest.
  • So, in order to change people, appeal to the nobler motives.

Principle 11: Dramatize your ideas.

  • To engage others and make them intensely interested, use dramatization.
  • Merely stating a truth isn't enough. The truth has to be more vivid, interesting, dramatic. You have to use showmanship. The movies do it. Television does it. And you will have to do it too if you want attention.

Principle 12: Throw down a challenge.

  • When being challenged to meet goals, gamify the process.
  • Charles Schwab said: “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.”
  • The desire to excel is faced by challenge. An infallible way of appealing to people of spirit.
  • “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.
  • The one major factor that motivated people was the work itself. If the work looked interesting, the worker looked forward to it. It is not the money or benefits that is a motivating factor, it is the interesting work that keeps one engaged and challenged.
  • The game in itself is loved by successful people. The chance for self-expression, the chance to prove his or her self-worth, to excel, to win. The desire to excel. The desire for feeling of importance.

Part IV. Be a leader: how to change people without giving offense or arousing resentment

  • Principle 1: Begin with praise and honest appreciation.
  • Principle 2: Call attention to people's mistakes indirectly.
  • Principle 3: Talk about your own mistakes before criticizing the other person.
  • Principle 4: Ask questions instead of giving direct orders.
  • Principle 5: Let the other person save face.
  • Principle 6: Praise the slightest improvement and praise every improvement. “Be hearty in your approbation and lavish in your praise.”
  • Principle 7: Give the other person a fine reputation to live up to.
  • Principle 8: Use encouragement. Make the fault seem easy to correct.
  • Principle 9: Make the other person happy about doing the things you suggest.

III. Quotes

  • For the great aim of education, is not knowledge but action. — Herbert Sepencer
  • Let's realize criticisms are like homing pigeons. They always return home.
  • Judge not, that ye be not judged.
  • Don't complain about the snow on your neighbor's roof when your own doorstep is unclean. — Confucius
  • A great man shows his greatness by the way he treats little men. — Carlyle
  • To know all is to forgive all.
  • God himself, sir, does not propose to judge man until the end of his days? Why should you and I? — Dr. Johnson
  • Don't be afraid of enemies who attack you. Be afraid of the friends who flatter you. — General Alvaro Obregon
  • Teach me neither to proffer nor receive cheap praise. That's all flattery is—cheap praise. — General Alvaro Obregon
  • One of the most neglected virtues of our daily existence is appreciation.
  • In our interpersonal relations we should never forget that all our associates are human beings and hunger for appreciation. It is the legal tender that all souls enjoy.
  • Try leaving a friendly trail of little sparks of gratitude on your daily trips. You will be surprised how they will set small flames of friendship that will be rose beacons on your next visit.
  • Honest appreciation got results where criticism and ridicule failed.
  • Every man I meet is my superior in some way. In that, I learn of him. — Ralph Waldo Emerson
  • 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. — Professor Overstreet
  • 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 human failures spring. — Alfred Adler
  • Happiness doesn't depend on outward conditions. It depends on inner conditions.
  • People who talk only of themselves think only of themselves.
  • To be interesting, be interested.