Life gets busy. Has How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie been sitting on your reading list? Instead, learn the key insights now.
DISCLAIMER: This is an unofficial summary and analysis.
Dale Carnegie’s Perspective
At State Teacher’s College in Warrensburg, Dale Carnegie was active in debating clubs. After graduating he was a salesman in Nebraska and an actor in New York City. That said, his passion was for public speaking. He started teaching public speaking at the YMCA. The influence of these talks meant he ended up lecturing to packed rooms. Based on this success, he decided to create his own public speaking school. Carnegie’s public speaking coaching school is still influential today. Warren Buffett has a diploma from Dale Carnegie’s public speaking course hanging in his office. Buffett is only one in a long list of successful people who give the author partial credit for their success.
Introduction to How to Win Friends and Influence People
By the time How to Win Friends and Influence People was published in 1936 and became an instant bestseller, Dale Carnegie was already a famous public speaking coach and author of five other books. Out of his 11 books, this one has proven to be his most popular. It sold over five million copies throughout the author’s life and more than another ten million since then. Carnegie researched the lives of greats from Julius Caesar to Thomas Edison. He also interviewed influential individuals like Franklin D. Roosevelt and Clark Gable. Based on these findings, he created a book that has become one of the best-selling books of all time. The book is based on a 14-week course he gave on human relations and public speaking.
Part One: Fundamental Techniques in Handling People.
Carnegie starts the book by providing three fundamental techniques you must master to be able to handle people:1: If You Want to Gather Honey, Don’t Kick Over the Beehive – It is basic human nature to reject criticism and justify one’s actions. That said, Carnegie recommends being less defensive if you want to be successful.2: The Big Secret of Dealing with People – Of the basic human needs, the desire to be important is the most challenging to meet. If you can deliver that sense of importance to your fellow man, you will have found the key to dealing with people. Every person knows something you don’t. So, seek to learn that thing in every interaction. You will make the other person feel important if you do this. 3: He Who Can Do This Has the Whole World with Him. He Who Cannot Walks a Lonely Way – When you go fishing, you don’t bait the hook with the strawberries you’d like to snack on. You use what the fish prefer: worms. Yet, humans barge into interactions talking about what they want. Carnegie describes this as a complete waste of time and effort. As an alternative, you should always ask yourself what the other person wants. Present your reasoning from their perspective.
Part Two: Six Ways to Make People Like You
Do This and You’ll Be Welcome Anywhere
The first way you can make people like you is by showing you are interested in them. One simple application the author suggests is to record and remember people’s birthdays. People like to be remembered. People also like to be admired and sought after for help. So, if you need something from someone, tell them that they are the only person who can help you. When you ask, request exactly what you need from them. Finally, make it as easy as possible for them to do it.The author tells several stories about people who genuinely took an interest in the other person. Often, this interest wasn’t remotely related to what they needed from them. This approach often results in the person giving you what you need. If you can effectively show genuine interest, you will beat all the best sales techniques in the world.
A Simple Way to Make a Good First Impression
A smile shows the other person that you like them and you are glad to see them. That said, an insincere smile won’t do you any good. So, preface your smile by being thankful for what you have. Happiness results from our inward condition, not our outward circumstance. We can control our inward condition in the form of thoughts. So, try to think positively about other people to improve the legitimacy of your smiles.
If You Don’t Do This, You Are Headed for Trouble
Jim Farley was raised by a single mother around the turn of the 19th century. He started work as a bricklayer when he was ten years old and did not obtain much education. But, Farley ended up as the Postmaster General of the United States, the chairman of the Democratic National Committee, and the man responsible for putting Roosevelt into the White House.Farley’s secret was that he could call 50,000 people by their first name. Each time he met someone, he would ask about the person’s name, family size, profession and political leanings. This allowed him to create a mental picture. Use and remember a person’s name and they will like you.
An Easy Way to Become a Good Conversationalist
To put it simply, quickly find what interests the other person. Encourage them to talk about themselves and make sure you don’t interrupt. Most people approach a conversation by trying to find a commonality. Sometimes you will struggle to find this shared interest. So, it is safer if you focus on the other person’s greatest interest and simply pay active and close attention. If you do this effectively, they will find you to be an excellent conversationalist. Effective conversationalists are also able to diffuse heated conversations. All you have to do is listen to the other person until they have told their whole story and are satisfied they have expressed themselves. By that time, you should be able to address the problem from their viewpoint. Adopting their viewpoint will allow you to naturally offer a quick resolution to the problem at hand.
How to Interest People
When Teddy Roosevelt was scheduled to meet someone the next day, he would stay up late to read on a subject that the person was interested in. Carnegie suggests spending your energy on finding the other person’s passion. This does not mean you should begin the conversation with that subject. You will be significantly more effective if you let the subject emerge naturally.
How to Make People Like You Instantly
Whenever you meet someone, ask yourself, “What is there about them that I can honestly admire?” As said earlier, everyone wants approval, recognition and a feeling of importance. It doesn’t take much for you to deliver all those things.Practice doing this with everyone you meet – clerks at the post office as well as your business associates. Make it a habit and, together with the other practices listed above, it will significantly improve your results and relationships.
Part Three: Twelve Ways to Win People to Your Way of Thinking
You Can’t Win an Argument
Even if you shoot down your opponent with your incredible wit and knowledge, they will still leave the conversation resenting you. So, you lose either way. It’s simply not worth your time to argue. The author again highlights the impact of making people feel important. Some people argue because they want to feel important. To counteract this, you can acknowledge their importance instead of arguing. By doing this, their ego has room to breathe, and you may then find they become sympathetic to your cause.
A Sure Way of Making Enemies – and How to Avoid It
You should never waste your time trying to prove someone wrong. We are all influenced by our own cognitive biases. Mr. Carnegie suggests this script when you believe another person is at fault: “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.”
If You’re Wrong, Admit It
If you notice you are wrong, you must admit your fault. Admit it quickly, openly and with enthusiasm. When you condemn yourself, the other party’s only option to nourish their own self-esteem is to defend you. Even when the other party’s interests are clearly contrary to your own, it is a powerful weapon to admit your faults.A newspaper reader once wrote in to criticize one of Elbert Hubbard’s articles. Here is the famous American writer’s response: “Come to think it over, I don’t think I completely agree with it myself. Not everything I wrote yesterday appeals to me today. I am glad to learn what you think about the subject. The next time you are in the neighborhood you must visit us, and we’ll get this subject threshed out for all time. So here is a handclasp over the miles, and I am, Yours Sincerely…”
The High Road to a Man’s Reason.
If we respond to anger with anger, we will never convince the other party. Suppose we instead respond to anger with friendliness, sympathy and appreciation. In that case, we can turn an angry situation into a productive one. Former US president, Woodrow Wilson, put it this way:“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 one another, understand why it is that we differ from one another, just what the points at issue are,’ we will presently find 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.”
The Secret of Socrates
Never begin a conversation by immediately addressing how your opinion differs from the other person. Instead, begin by emphasizing the points on which you agree. Keep reminding all parties involved that while you might differ in terms of the preferred method, you are all striving for the same purpose. A skilled influencer of people can identify that common purpose.This method’s result is that the other party starts to give permission for you to offer your opinions. A person’s “pride of personality” demands they remain consistent with themselves. A “yes” or “no” is more than a word, it is a response. So, if you want to change the answer, you are going to have to change the whole response. This can be an impossible task, so it is best to get things on track before you begin. Get the other person saying, “Yes,” immediately.
The Safety Valve in Handling Complaints – Let People Talk
When someone has a complaint, let them talk themselves out. When you go for an interview, don’t talk about yourself. Ask the interviewer about their early years and get them talking about themselves. Carnegie highlights that the famous French moralist, La Rochefoucauld, once said, “If you want enemies, excel your friends; but if you want friends, let your friends excel you.” Talking about your accomplishments doesn’t win you any friends. Let the other person do most of the talking.
How to Get Cooperation
There should never be any need for you to claim credit for an idea. Let the other party claim the idea as their own and you will have a much easier time. They will be significantly more likely to cooperate. When you need something, don’t talk about what you need. Present the other person with the available information and ask them to tell you.
A Formula That Will Work Wonders for You
There is always a reason that a person thinks and acts the way they. Leave behind the mindset of judging a person’s rightness or wrongness and instead seek out that reason. You will then have the key to their actions and even their personality.The author asks that if you take away nothing else from this book, you begin to make a practice of honestly trying to understand other people’s points of view. Understanding why they have an opinion rather than just what that opinion is.
What Everybody Wants
You would have the same perspective as the other person in the conversation if you had their temperament, environment and experiences. While we might argue the role of environmental forces vs. personal choice, it is important to acknowledge the validity of the other person’s emotions and opinions. Declare them reasonable given their circumstances.
An Appeal That Everybody Likes
J.P. Morgan, one of the most powerful bankers of all time, once asserted that people usually have two reasons for anything they do: one that sounds good and the real one. Appeal to people’s nobler motives by providing them with that good reason. Speak and act in a way that assumes the best of them.
The Movies Do It. The Radio Does It. Why Don’t You Do It?
Merely stating a truth isn’t enough. The truth must be made vivid, interesting and dramatic. A demonstration is far more striking and memorable than words. Show people your ideas rather than telling them.
When Nothing Else Works, Try This.
Famous investor, Charles Schwab, once had a mill manager whose workers weren’t meeting their production quotas. The mill manager had tried everything with no success. Schwab simply asked how many heats the mill’s day shift had made and wrote the number in chalk on the mill floor.When the night shift arrived, the new employees asked what the number meant. After learning of the reason, the team proceeded to make one more than the day shift had managed and wrote that number on the floor. Not wanting to be shown up, the day shift came back with even more. This process continued until that mill was the most productive on the plant.The principle here is not to set people against each other. Issue a challenge to excel. The love of the game and the chance to prove self-worth is one of the most powerful motivators. So, introduce some competition when you need to inspire others.
Part Four: Nine Ways to Change People Without Giving Offense or Arousing Resentment
If You Must Find Fault, This Is the Way to Begin
Before you point out a fault in another person’s action, begin with honest appreciation for what they have done well. After doing so, you might even find the other person points out their own fault and volunteers to correct it.
How to Criticize – and Not Be Hated for It
The author offers an example to show the best way to criticize without being hated. When Wanamaker’s department store president John Wanamaker was on his daily rounds through the flagship store, he noticed a customer waiting at the counter unattended. Store staff stood talking and laughing among themselves at the other end of the counter. Wanamaker slipped behind the counter, served the customer himself, and handed the package to the staff to be wrapped as he continued on his way. Without saying a word, he had clearly communicated to the staff what was expected of them. When you must criticize, try to find a way to do so indirectly.
Talk About Your Own Mistakes First
Criticism is much easier to take when the other person talks about their own faults. When you need to directly criticize, first mention how you made similar mistakes or have deficiencies in other areas.
No One Likes to Take Orders
By asking questions instead of giving direct orders, you save people’s pride and preserve their feeling of importance.
Let the Other Man Save His Face
General Electric once had to replace the head of one of its departments – a genius in electricity who, it turned out, wasn’t cut out to be a department head. Instead of demoting him, General Electric gave him the new title of Consulting Engineer of the General Electric Company.We usually don’t take the time to think about helping others save face. It usually doesn’t take much effort and has a lasting impact.
How to Spur Men on to Success
You’ll get much better results by praising people for any slight improvement or small stuff done properly than by criticizing when they come up short.
Give the Dog a Good Name
A truth of human nature is that people will be compelled to live up to whatever reputation you attribute to them. Tell a person you think they are honest, industrious, or any other variety of virtue. They will usually live up to it – even if their previous actions had indicated otherwise.
Make the Fault Seem Easy to Correct
The author tells of how he once declined to play a game of bridge with a friend, stating that the game was too complicated for him. His friend replied, “Why, Dale, it is no trick at all. There is nothing to bridge except memory and judgment. You once wrote a chapter on memory. It is right up your alley.”By telling people that a goal is easily within their grasp or some fault can be corrected with only a minor adjustment, you will give them the confidence to reach the goal or correct the fault.
Making People Glad to Do What You Want
The key to making people glad to do what you want, yet again, is to make them feel important. Give them recognition as the best person for a job or authority to oversee a matter, and they will embrace the role you have laid out for them. When Napoleon Bonaparte created the Legion of Honor, he gave 1,500 crosses to his soldiers. He also named 18 of his generals “Marshals of France” and christened the troops “the Grand Army.” When criticized for giving out “toys,” he responded, “Men are ruled by toys.”
Part Five: Letters That Produced Miraculous Results
The author writes of a quirk of human nature that can significantly increase your effectiveness in obtaining what you ask. Here are a few phrases from the letters Carnegie uses as examples:
- “I wonder if you mind helping me out of a little difficulty?” Instead of stating, “Please do this thing I want you to do,” begin by asking for help.
- “Naturally, I must come to you to help me answer…” If it sounds like a generic message you’re sending to multiple people, the request for help won’t be compelling. The other person needs to feel that you genuinely and specifically need their help to solve your problem.
- “Thank you for kindness in giving me this information.” Present your request as a need for kindness. It subtly implies it would be unkind to ignore your request and appeals to the person’s better nature. There is a part of human nature that is hardwired to help others, so tap into that proclivity by thanking them in advance for their goodwill.
Final Summary of How to Win Friends and Influence People
Carnegie advocates an approach to human relations that is analytical and proactive, going a step beyond civility requirements by thinking in advance about the other person. It seems simple because it is. Effective relationships come simply from having the ability to put other people first. This book’s reminders and insights about how to do so practically in everyday life are what have earned it a reputation as one of the most useful relationship books of all time.
While many of the ideas of the book are timeless, some readers may find books such as How to Talk to Anyone by Leil Lowndes more applicable in the modern day.
We rate this classic 4.6/5.
How to Win Friends and Influence People Infographic, PDF, Free Audiobook and Animated Book Summary and Analysis
This was the tip of the iceberg. Get the audiobook for free on Amazon to learn the juicy details and support the author’s legacy.
Get the PDF, animated summary and infographic of this book and hundreds of other bestsellers in our free app. It’s been featured by Apple, Google, The UN, The Guardian and many more as one of the world’s best learning apps.
Related Book Summaries
Influence by Robert Cialdini
How to Talk to Anyone by Leil Lowndes
The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People Stephen Covey
How to Stop Worrying and Start Living by Dale Carnegie
The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership by John C. Maxwell
Emotional Intelligence 2.0 by Travis Bradberry and Jean Greaves
The 48 Laws of Power by Robert Greene
Nonviolent Communication by Marshall Rosenberg
The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg
Crucial Conversations by Al Switzler, Joseph Grenny and Ron McMillan
The Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz
Talking to Strangers by Malcolm Gladwell
The 33 Strategies of War by Robert Greene
The Art of Seduction by Robert Greene
Emotional Intelligence by Daniel Goleman
Difficult Conversations by Sheila Heen, Douglas Stone and Bruce Patton
The Laws of Human Nature by Robert Greene