2005-05-28: How to Win Friends & Influence People

How to Win Friends & Influence People (1936, ed 1981)

by Dale Carnegie (1888-)

Of course this book is famous, but I’ve never read it. I picked it up because of a comment in an essay about start-up companies by Paul Graham, to the effect that the book would explain how to decide what products to produce. I didn’t exactly find that, but then I’m not running a start-up company. Graham also recommended finding the original version, as the updates to keep it ‘current’ have made later editions worse than the original.

Carnegie’s advice is straightforward enough, but the discipline to follow it doesn’t come from a book. Perhaps some people are temperamentally incapable of even understanding some of it, without extensive thought. The book is written in a breezy style with short chapters that doesn’t lend itself to thoughtful reading.

The book is in four parts. Each chapter provides one point, given explicitly at the end, and some of them are repetitious. I’ve provided them below.

Part 1.  Fundamental Techniques in Handling People

1. Don’t criticize, condemn or complain.

2. Give honest and sincere appreciation.

3. Arouse in the other person an eager want.

Part 2.  Six Ways to Make People Like You

1. Become genuinely interested in other people.

2. Smile

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

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

5. Talk in terms of the other person’s interests.

6. Make the other person feel important – and do it sincerely.

Part 3.  How to Win People to Your Way of Thinking

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

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

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

4. Begin in a friendly way.

5. Get the other person saying “yes, yes” immediately.

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

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

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

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

10. Appeal to the nobler motives.

11. Dramatize your ideas.

12. Throw down a challenge.

Part 4.  Be a Leader: How to Change People Without Giving Offense or Arousing Resentment

1. Begin with praise and honest appreciation.

2. Call attention to people’s mistakes indirectly.

3. Talk about your own mistakes before criticizing the other person.

4. Ask questions instead of giving direct orders.

5. Let the other person save face.

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

7. Give the other person a fine reputation to live up to.

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

9. Make the other person happy doing the thing you suggest.


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