How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie was the infamous book that started the self-help genre as we know it today. Although first published in 1936, to this day, this book remains at the top of many self-help and personal development reading lists.
Understandably, this book draws a lot of criticism and even controversy surrounding the intentions of the book. In all fairness, the title of the book sounds like it was written by a slimy car salesman. In fact, Dale Carnege was a salesman before writing this book.
For me, this book is a classic that offers plenty of great advice, and I think this book is greatly misunderstood. Although some examples in this book are dated, the principles themselves are timeless. If you think about it, the title of the book tells you exactly what this book is about: how to win friends and influence people. It’s not “how to trick people into being your friend and manipulating others”. Unfortunately, the title of the book seems to prompt people to believe that this is what the book is about.
Instead, I think this book gives you a lot of commonsense advice that will help you build genuine connections with people. It is advice that many people know intuitively, but do not actively practice. I treat this book more like a reminder to myself to be mindful of how I interact and build relationships with others.
This book is one of those that could have been significantly shorter, but for whatever reason, the author decided to include many stories to help illustrate their points. Each chapter centres around a principle that is revealed at the end, and begins with several anecdotes that help to highlight that principle.
You can extract the majority of the value out of this book if you read the principle at the end of each chapter, skim through the anecdotes and read the last few paragraphs before the end of each chapter. This book is divided into four parts which contain related principles. You find those themes and their related principles below.
Don’t criticize, condemn or complain.
Give honest and sincere appreciation.
Arouse in the other person an eager want.
Become genuinely interested in other people.
Remember that a person’s name is to that person the sweetest and most important sound in any language.
Be a good listener. Encourage others to talk about themselves.
Talk in terms of the other person’s interests.
Make the other person feel important - and do it sincerely.
The only way to get the best of an argument is to avoid it.
Show respect for the other person’s opinions. Never say, “You’re wrong”.
If you are wrong, admit it quickly and emphatically.
Begin in a friendly way.
Get the other person saying “yes, yes” immediately.
Let the other person do a great deal of the talking.
Let the other person feel that the idea is his or hers.
Try honestly to see things from the other person’s point of view.
Be sympathetic with the other person’s ideas and desires.
Appeal to the nobler motives.
Dramatize your ideas.
Throw down a challenge.
Begin with praise and honest appreciation.
Call attention to people’s mistakes indirectly.
Talk about your own mistakes before criticizing the other person.
Ask questions instead of giving direct orders.
Let the other person save face.
Praise the slightest improvement and praise every improvement. Be “hearty in your approbation and lavish in your praise”.
Give the other person a fine reputation to live up to.
Use encouragement. Make the fault seem easy to correct.
Make the other person happy about doing the thing you suggest.