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Review: How to Win Friends & Influence People by Dale Carnegie

How to Win Friends & Influence PeopleHow to Win Friends & Influence People by Dale Carnegie
My rating: 4 of 5 stars


Despite its manipulative-sounding title, this book is about genuinely improving your social skills and winning people to your way of thinking. Although I generally agree with his principles, I think Carnegie makes following them sound too easy.

Carnegie states that 15% of success is due to technical knowledge, and the other 85% is due to personality and leadership. He says that the #1 secret to success in dealing with people is having a sympathetic grasp of the other person’s point of view. He talks a lot about respecting and understanding other people, and quotes Ralph Waldo Emerson: "Every man I meet is my superior in some way. In that, I learn of him."

Carnegie also talks a lot about praise; he says that praise is more effective than criticism for changing behavior and winning people over, so you should be “hearty in your approbation and lavish in your praise.”

The book includes lessons from people like Jesus, Confucius, Buddha, Abraham Lincoln, Andrew Carnegie, Ben Franklin, John Rockefeller, Charles Schwab, and J.P. Morgan. Carnegie provides anecdotes of his own experiences, and those of the people who took his courses.

I first read this book when co-workers suggested I improve my social skills, because I received many recommendations for this book. I re-read it because the lessons are so important and worthwhile.

Below are the book's principles, along with my notes.

Fundamental Techniques in Handling People

  1. Don't criticize, condemn, or complain.
    1. Criticism is futile.
  2. Give honest and sincere appreciation.
    1. Avoid flattery.
  3. Arouse in the other person an eager want.
    1. Salespeople need to show how their products and services solve customers’ problems
    2. Each party should gain; there must be mutual benefit.

Six Ways to Make People Like You

  1. Become genuinely interested in other people.
    1. “You can make more friends in two months by becoming more interested in other people than you can in two years by trying to get people interested in you”
    2. Greet people with animation and enthusiasm. When someone calls on the phone, sound like you’re pleased.
  2. Smile.
    1. A facial expression is more important than clothes.
    2. Encouragement is more effective than punishment.
    3. Don’t feel like smiling? Force yourself; feeling follows action.
  3. Remember that a man's Name is to him the sweetest and most important sound in any language.
    1. To remember names, tie the name to a person’s features, use the person’s name in conversation, and write and memorize the name.
  4. Be a good listener. Encourage others to talk about themselves.
    1. To be a good conversationalist, listen and pay attention.
    2. To be interesting, be interested.
  5. Talk in the terms of the other man's interest.
  6. Make the other person feel important and do it sincerely.
    1. The law of human conduct: always make the other person feel important.
    2. Follow the Golden Rule: "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you."

Twelve Ways to Win People to Your Way of Thinking

  1. Avoid arguments.
    1. You can’t win an argument. Even if you win, you make your opponent feel inferior, so you lose.
  2. Show respect for the other person's opinions. Never tell someone they are wrong.
  3. If you're wrong, admit it quickly and emphatically.
  4. Begin in a friendly way.
    1. "'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." – Lincoln
  5. Start with questions the other person will answer yes to.
    1. The more yeses you can get at the outset, the more likely the person is to accept your ultimate proposal.
  6. Let the other person do the talking.
    1. “If you want enemies, excel your friends; but if you want friends, let your friends excel you”.
  7. Let the other person feel the idea is his/hers.
  8. Try honestly to see things from the other person's point of view.
  9. Sympathize with the other person.
  10. Appeal to noble motives.
    1. Treat people as if they are honest and fair.
  11. Dramatize your ideas.
  12. Throw down a challenge.
    1. Use showmanship when selling or convincing.

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

  1. Begin with praise and honest appreciation.
    1. Use "and", not "but" as your conjunction between praise and criticism. Give praise, then say “and”, then give criticism/correction. Don’t give praise, say “but”, then criticize; it cheapens the praise.
  2. Call attention to other people's mistakes indirectly.
  3. Talk about your own mistakes first.
  4. Ask questions instead of directly giving orders.
    1. People are more likely to accept an order if they had a part in the decision.
  5. Let the other person save face.
  6. Praise every improvement.
    1. Give specific, sincere praise.
    2. Praise is more effective at changing behavior than criticism.
  7. Give them a fine reputation to live up to.
    1. Praise people, and they’ll feel obligated to live up to their good reputation.
  8. Encourage them by making their faults seem easy to correct.
  9. Make the other person happy about doing what you suggest.
    1. Convince people by telling them specifically how they’ll personally benefit.

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