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Book Summary: How To Win Friends and Influence People


How to Win Friends and Influence People is one of the top best-selling personal development books ever published in history. It has been sold more than 30 million copies internationally and was named #19 on Time Magazine’s list of 100 most influential books. This book consists of four major sections and there are core principles you can learn from each of the section.


About the Author

Dale Carnegie was an American author, lecturer, and also the creator of the famous courses in personal development, salesmanship, public speaking, and interpersonal skills. Millions of people around the world have attended the Dale Carnegie Course and have benefitted from the programs. One of the most influential books from Carnegie is none other than “How To Win Friends And Influence People”. And in this article, you will discover the summary and what you can learn out of this powerful and life-changing book.

Part 1: Fundamental Techniques in Handling People

Principle 1: Don’t criticize, condemn or complain

B.F. Skinner, the world-famous psychologist proved that an animal will learn much faster and retain what it has learned far more effective when it is rewarded for its good behavior rather than being punished for bad behavior. And this principle applies to human behavior as well. Criticizing, condemning, and complaining at others are not going to yield anything positive.

In this principle, Carnegie shared that we cannot move forward or make real changes in life by criticizing, condemning, or complaining at others. When you do that, you will often meet with resentment. And it is vital to understand that you are dealing with human beings and humans are creatures of emotions, who are motivated by ego and pride. So don’t criticize, condemn, or complain.

Principle 2: Give honest and sincere appreciation

According to Carnegie, the only way you can get a person to do anything is by giving them what they desire. Most of the necessary desires such as health, food, sleep, sex, and money are usually gratified, but there is one thing that most people lack and long for, which is the desire to be and feel important.

Most of the time, we take things for granted in lives and often neglect to let people know that we appreciate them. In order to win friends and influence people, you must learn to give honest and sincere appreciation. People will think about themselves most of the time, and when you started to pay attention and give them the appreciation and make them feel important, your relationship with them will evolve to a deeper level.

Principle 3: Arouse in the other person an eager want

Carnegie put it well, he said that strawberry cheesecake may be your favorite dessert, but when you go fishing, you will never use the cheesecake as your bait on the hook, why? Well, it is because cheesecake may be your favorite dessert, but the fish prefer worms than cakes.

In this principle, Carnegie shared that if you want to win people’s hearts, you must give people what they want and not what you want. Carnegie wrote, “Of course, you are interested in what you want. But no one else is. The rest of us are just like you: we are interested in what we want.” This is the absolute key to influencing others. If you want to convince someone to do something for you, you must find out what motivates them, and then give them what they desire. Start by learning to see things from their point of view.

Part 2: Six Ways to Make People Like You

Principle 1: Become genuinely interested in other people

We all like people who admire us. And this means to say that when you genuinely interested in other people, you will be welcomed anywhere you go. Carnegie said that you can make more friends in two months by becoming genuinely interested in other people than you can in two years trying to get people interested in you.

And one of the easiest and simplest ways to achieve this is by recording and remembering people’s birthdays. A simple birthday wish can make you their loyal fan and they can never ignore your future request or help. People liked to be remembered and admired. And the next time you need help from someone, tell them that they are the only person who can help you and ask specifically what you want from them.

Principle 2: Smile

We all know that action speaks louder than words, and without action, your words have less impact. As what Carnegie said, you can tell people how much you like them and how much they make you happy, but without a sincere smile, your words will mean nothing.

Carnegie also suggested his readers smile even when on the phone. Your sincere smile and your action will go through the phone via your voice and make people happy. Even if you do not feel like smiling, force yourself to smile. Act as if you were already happy, and your emotions will follow.

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

Remembering and addressing people by their names can be a very powerful communication tool. A name is an embodiment of that person’s identity, so remembering and addressing people by their names will make them feel valued and important.

Carnegie wrote in the book, “The average person is more interested in his or her own name than in all the other names on earth put together.” Calling someone by their name is like treating them with a compliment and making them feel important. On the other hand, forgetting and misspelling someone’s name can influence the relationship negatively.

Principle 4: Be a good listener

Carnegie said that he once attended a dinner party and he met a botanist whom he found to be interesting. And he listened to him to talk about exotic plants and indoor gardens for hours until the party ended. And just before leaving, the botanist told the host of the party that Carnegie was the most interesting conversationalist and complimented him.

What Carnegie did was just listen to the botanist intently with genuine interest. And this is what you need to do to win friends and influence people. Be a good listener and listen to what others have to say. And encourage others to talk about themselves because most people prefer to talk to a good listener than someone who only talks about themselves.

Principle 5: Talk in terms of the other person’s interests

One of the keys to successful communication is to talk about things that other people enjoy. It is true that people love to talk about themselves, and you can bring it to the next level by talking about topics that intrigue them.

Theodore Roosevelt once said, “The royal road to a person’s heart is to talk about the things he or she treasures most.” Carnegie said in his book that whenever Theodore Roosevelt expected a visitor, he would stay up late and read up whatever subject he knew about his guest the night before. And this is what you can do too. By talking in terms of the other person’s interests, you instantly win their hearts.

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

Sometimes you will come across people who are down, negative, bored or lack of enthusiasm. And your job is to cheer them up, even if they are a total stranger to you, say something good to make them feel great.

You may not understand why we need to create this type of interaction with strangers, and this is what Carnegie said, “If we are so contemptibly selfish that we can’t radiate a little happiness and pass on a bit of 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.”

Do something for someone else so that they will feel good and happy. Just like the Golden Rule states, “Do unto others as what you want others to do unto you.”

Part 3: 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

Oftentimes, we tempted to argue with others and to convince them that we are right about something. The problem is that even if you are right, what will the result of the argument be? What can you get out of the argument?

Carnegie said that it is impossible to win an argument. If you lose the argument, you lose; and if you win the argument, you made the other person feel inferior and resentful. So no matter what you do, avoid arguing with other people.

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

When you say someone that they are wrong, you are not making them agree with you, but rather, you are hitting their pride and take a blow at their intelligence. If you are going trying to prove anything, try not to let the other person knows about it, instead, choose to do it in more adroitly.

If someone makes a statement and you know it is wrong, never say that they are wrong straight at them. Choose to say something such as, “Now, I may be wrong, but let’s examine the facts”, or “Well, I thought otherwise, correct me if I’m wrong. Let’s talk about the facts.” This is what a top conversationalist like Carnegie will do and this is what you must learn when you communicate with others.

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

Carnegie said that when you found out you are wrong, admit it. And he wrote, “quickly, openly and with enthusiasm.” It is a very powerful tool to admit your faults. When you admit that you are wrong, the other person will defend you in order for their self-esteem to flourish. And even if the person does not agree with you, he or she will not condemn you.

So the next time when you find that you have done something wrong, challenge yourself to admit it and point it out. By admitting to your own mistakes and avoiding making the same mistakes again in the future, you are telling others that you are honest, responsible and diligent.

Principle 4: Begin in a friendly way

Carnegie said that if you approach someone with your fist doubled, you will only lead the other person to do the same. Instead, when you go to the person you disagree with and try to talk nicely, you are likely to find that there are more commonalities and similarities than things you both disagree on.

There is no way you can force someone to agree with you, but you can lead them in that direction when you are friendly and appear gentle with them. This is what this principle is all about; begin in a friendly way to win friends and influence people.

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

One of the keys to winning a conversation is to never begin with points that both parties disagree. Always start a conversation about the things that you and the other person agree on, and make sure you convey the message that you both are trying to achieve the same result.

When there is disagreement, do understand that there may be differences in you and the person’s methods, but not the purpose. The technique is to get the person to say “yes” as soon as possible. Socrates was famously known for his “Socratic method” by asking questions that led another person into agreeing with him.

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

When it comes to a conversation, most people will want to speak out and let others agree with them. They are all about themselves and their ideas. In this principle, Carnegie suggested you do otherwise. Let the other person do the talking. They know their problems and situations better than you do, hence, ask questions, and let them tell you their stories.

If you want to win a conversation, you must be the one that listens. This is because when you encourage others to talk and as you listen patiently with an open mind, you will understand them and the situation better. Carnegie said, “If you want to make enemies, excel your friends. If you want friends, let your friends excel you.”

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

People prefer to feel that they are acting on their own ideas and acting on their own accord, not told or forced to do something. So use this to your advantage and let the other person feels that the idea is theirs.

If you are trying to win someone to your way of thinking, do not argue with them, instead, choose to guide them there or get them halfway, and then step back and let them see the idea through completion. When you make someone thinks that the ideas belong to them, they will work on it willingly without having you to force or tell them to do it.

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

Carnegie said that when you found out someone is wrong, never condemn them. Choose to understand their point of view from their perspective. When you put yourself in someone’s shoes, you will understand why they act how they do or why they will say things like they did.

This is the fundamental key to building a successful human relation. “There is a reason why the other man thinks and acts as he does. Ferret out that reason – and you have the key to his actions, perhaps to his personality,” wrote Carnegie. Dealing with people successfully requires the ability to understand the person’s point of view. This skill may take you some time to learn and improve, but it will be a skill worth developing.

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

Do you believe that there is a magical phrase that could stop arguments, make the other person listen to you, and create positive interactions? Here it is, “I don’t blame you at all for feeling the way you do. If I were you, I would undoubtedly feel the same way.” You can say this with 100% honesty because if you were truly that person, with their thinking, feelings, and background, you really would feel that way.

Carnegie wrote in his book, “Three-fourths of the people you will ever meet are hungering and thirsting for sympathy. Give it to them, and they will love you.” Everyone wants to feel, be understood, and have their opinions recognized, so use this chance to transform hostility into friendliness.

Principle 10: Appeal to the nobler motives

Carnegie gave the example of how John Rockefeller wanted the press to stop taking pictures of his children. Instead of saying, “I don’t want these pictures taken”, Rockefeller appealed to the nobler motives by saying, “You know how it is, boys. You’ve got children yourselves, some of you. And you know it’s not good for youngsters to get too much publicity.”

If you are trying to convince someone to do something or to agree with you, use the positive traits that the person tries hard to embody and work on the ideas on how they will react in a favorable way.

Principle 11: Dramatize your ideas

When it comes to effective communication, it is not enough to just state the truth, you must make it in an interesting and dramatic way to completely influence the other person. Carnegie gave a good example of when people propose, they will get down on one knee because they want to make it dramatic. And you must learn to do the same if you want to influence people.

Dramatizing your idea does not mean that you are lying, but you are saying something in such a way that it makes the other person feels that what you say is important and they will agree with you and follow your way.

Principle 12: Throw down a challenge

As human beings, we all have an innate desire to achieve and compete. Everyone wants to outdo others and be the best and nobody wants to be the worst. When nothing else seems to work in winning people to your views, throw down a challenge.

Of course, your aim is to stimulate a competition with the desire to improve and achieve, not in a sordid or money-getting way. People simply love to express themselves and to show their importance. Thus, when all else fails, throw in a challenge for self-expression.

Part 4: Be a Leader—How to Change People Without Giving Offense or Rousing Resentment

Principle 1: Begin with praise and honest appreciation

The first step to changing people, according to Carnegie, is to appreciate their strengths and honestly praise them. One of the most notable quotes from Carnegie is this, “Beginning with praise is like the dentist who begins his work with Novocain. The patient still gets a drilling, but the Novocain kills the pain.”

People love to hear compliments and praises from others. Hence, always be lavish with your praise and compliments. And if you want to offer negative feedback, do it in a more professional way. Use a technique called “sandwich”, where you first praise and compliment people for their good point, and then tell them the negative feedback, and finally you end the conversation with praise and compliment again.

Principle 2: Call attention to people’s mistakes indirectly

In this principle, Carnegie suggested people swap the word “but” with “and”. For example, most people will tend to begin their criticism with a sincere praise such as saying, “We’re really proud of you, Billy, for getting such a great grade this semester. But if you work harder in math, you can achieve even more.”

This is when Billy will feel insincere about the praise when the word “but” is used. Change the word and use is this way, “We’re really proud of you, Billy, for getting such a great grade this semester. And if you put in more effort in math, your grade will be even better the next semester.” When you say so, it will be much easier for Billy to accept the praise because there is no follow-up with a direct criticism.

Principle 3: Talk about your own mistakes before criticizing the other person

Carnegie said that another good way to changing people’s thought without inflicting negative feelings is to talk about your own mistakes before criticizing the other person. It is much easier to listen and accept our own faults when the other person begins by humbly criticizing themselves for the same problem.

Carnegie wrote in the book, “Admitting one’s own mistakes – even when one hasn’t corrected them – can help convince somebody to change his behavior.” It is a lot better to hear someone talks about their faults before they point out yours.

Principle 4: Ask questions instead of giving direct orders

It is common sense that nobody likes to take orders from someone else, so learn to give suggestions instead of giving orders. It will save a person’s pride and make him feel important. And it also encourages cooperation than a rebellion. Therefore, the next round you want to get someone else to do something, stop ordering them, instead, suggest them into doing it or give them the opportunity to try out.

Here is a good phrase you can use, “You might consider this,” or “Do you think this will work?” So in the future, do not use the words “Do this” or “Don’t do that”. Carnegie also said that people are more likely to accept an order if they play a part in the decision that caused the order in the first place.

Principle 5: Let the other person save face

When you disagree with someone, even if you are right and the other person is wrong, you only end up destroying his ego and cause him or her to lose face. Carnegie then quoted what Antoine de Saint Exupery said, “I have no right to say or do 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.”

Most of the time, people tend to jump into criticizing too soon and seldom offer the opportunity for others to save face. Never let this happen in your conversation. Always let the other person save face, and this is how you can win friends.

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

A lot of people are not accustomed to praising others. Yet, one of the most powerful abilities we have is helping others realize their potential and we can simply accomplish this by praising their strengths. While it is true that it is easier to point out other people’s faults, but you may not want to do that.

It may be difficult and challenging to find points to praise and compliment others, but try to come up with something and do it sincerely. More importantly, praise often. Carnegie said that by noting even small steps and minor improvements, we encourage other people to keep doing a better job.

Principle 7: Give the other person a fine reputation to live up to

You can become a great leader and lead most people if you have their respect and if you show that you respect them for their characters. If you want to make someone shine is a certain aspect, act as though that particular aspect is one of his or her remarkable characteristics.

You are able to change the person’s attitude or behavior by giving them a big reputation to lead up to. For instance, when you tell someone they have the qualities of a leader and you look up to them, they will work harder in order to live up to that reputation.

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

When you tell people that they are inferior or bad at something, you are stripping them of any motivation to improve. Rather, choose to encourage them openly to take steps forward for improvement. You will inspire them to do better in the future.

Carnegie wrote in his book, “Be liberal with your encouragement, make the thing seem easy to do, let the other person know that you have faith in his ability to do it, that he has an undeveloped flair for it – and he will practice until the dawn comes in the window in order to excel.”

Principle 9: Make the other person happy about doing the thing you suggest

Finally, Carnegie said that in order to be a great leader and to change people, you need to learn how to make people happy doing what you want them to do. If you are having a hard time convincing your children to do a chore, offer them a dollar every time they do it, and take away a dollar every time they do not.

Offer incentives, rewards, praise and authority to make someone happily accept your decision and do what you want them to do.

Things You Can Learn From This Book

There are just so many golden tips, techniques, and proven methods you can learn and apply into your real life to improve your relationship and communication skills from How To Win Friends And Influence People. Dale Carnegie was truly the master of communication and there is a reason the book became one of the most influential titles in the self-help category.

Dealing with people, communicating, and handling your relationships with others are an important part of life that is inevitable. And if you want to be a great leader, master of communication, and influence people, this may be the best book that can help you.


There is no doubt that this is an old book and some of the principles are general advice and tips such as “praise others” and “do not criticize”, but if you think about it, it is this general advice that we already knew that we did not practice.

When was the last time you praised someone? And do you criticize, condemn, and complain about someone or something today?

The tips and information contained in this book are evergreens and they will work for you if you are willing to work on them. Read this book and apply the golden principles shared by Dale Carnegie.

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