How To Win Friends and Influence People

I heard about this book a long time ago and how it changed people's lives. I always wanted to read it but something in the title of the book always made me put it back on the shelve. I mean, what would people think if they see me read a book with this title. Poor man has no friends or wants to manipulate people. How many people would boast of 'winning' a friend and influencing them for their own personal gain? In this case, judging a book by its cover would seem a very reasonable thing to do. Yet we should consider some points in the book's defense.

First, there is a strange inconsistency between the title and much of what is in the book. When read carefully, it is not at all a manual for manipulation. Carnegie genuinely despised 'winning friends' for a purpose. The energy which makes the book a great read comes from a love of people. Second, Carnegie wrote it in the America of the 1930's. The country was still clawing itself out of the Great Depression, and opportunities, particularly for people with limited education, were scarce. Carnegie offered a way to get ahead, taking advantage of the one thing you truly owned outright - your personality. By modern standards, the claims made in How To Win Friends do not seem too wild - motivational psychology is now well established. But try to imagine its impact in 1937, before the great prosperity of the post-World War Two period. To many people it would have seemed liked gold. But the book, initially no doubt due to the title alone, caused a sensation. It is one of the biggest selling books ever, and still the biggest overall seller in the self-improvement field.

The three most powerful points I took from the book were;

  1. The ability to handle people well is far more valuable than all other skill sets put together

  2. The deepest urge in human nature is the desire to be important. The person who really understands this craving for appreciation, will also know how to make people happy

  3. Giving suggestions instead of giving orders saves a person’s pride and gives him a sense of importance. It encourages cooperation instead of rebellion

Education, not manipulation.

The success of Carnegie's adult courses revealed a deep want for education in the 'soft skills' of leading people, expressing ideas and creating enthusiasm. That technical knowledge or raw intelligence alone do not bring career success is now a given, but in Carnegie's time the idea that success was composed of many elements was only just starting to be researched. In seeing that people skills could make all the difference, Carnegie effectively popularised the idea of emotional intelligence, decades before it was established as fact in academic psychology. He had kept in his mind a statement by John D. Rockefeller (the Bill Gates of his age) that the ability to handle people well was more valuable than all others put together, yet astonishingly, he could find no book written on the subject. Carnegie and his researcher hungrily read everything they could find on human relations, including philosophy, family court judgements, magazine articles, classical texts, the latest work in psychology, and biography, specifically the lives of those recognised for superb leadership. Carnegie apparently interviewed two of the most important inventors of the century, Marconi and Edison, as well as Franklin D. Roosevelt and even the movie stars Clark Gable and Mary Pickford. A set of basic ideas emerged from these researches. Originally a short lecture, they were relentlessly tested on the 'human laboratory' of his course attendees before emerging, 15 years later, as the 'principles' in How to Win Friends and Influence People. Whatever might be said about the book, it was not written on a whim.

Carnegie's principles.

Did the principles work? At the start of the book, Carnegie gives the example of a man who had driven his 300+ employees mercilessly, apparently the epitome of a bastard boss who was incapable of saying anything positive about his own people. But after taking a Carnegie course and applying the principle Never criticise, condemn or complain, he was able to turn '314 enemies into 314 friends', inspire a previously non-existent loyalty and, to top it off, increase profits. But there's more, Carnegie tells us: his family liked him more, he had more time for leisure, and he found his outlook on life 'sharply altered'. What excited Carnegie most were not stories of the beneficial career or financial effects of his courses, but how they made people open their eyes and reshape their lives. They started to see that there could be more lightness in their life - it was no longer seen as a struggle or power game. The deepest urge in human nature is the desire to be important. The person who really understands this craving for appreciation, Carnegie says, will also know how to make people happy - 'even the undertaker will be sorry when he dies'. Such a person will also know how to draw the best out of others. He loves telling the success stories of the great industrialists of his day. Charles Schwab was the first person to earn $1 million a year by running Andrew Carnegie's United States Steel Company. He confided that his secret of success was being 'hearty in my approbation and lavish in my praise' to the people under him. Valuing your employees, making them feel special in the scheme of things, is now accepted wisdom in management circles, but in the era of Andrew and Dale Carnegie era it wasn't. At the same time, Carnegie was anti-flattery. Flattery simply involved mimicking the vanities of its receiver, whereas sincere appreciation of someone's good points is an act of gratitude that requires you to really see that person, maybe for the first time. An effect is that you seem more valuable to them, the expression of value only increasing your own. You get the priceless pleasure of seeing a face light up, and in the workplace, are an amazed witness as excited co-operation grows out of boredom or mistrust. Carnegie's principle, give honest and sincere appreciation, is ultimately to do with seeing the beauty of people.

Below are 30 principle that I summarized from the book.

Fundamental Techniques in Handling People

  • Criticism is futile because it puts a person on the defensive and usually makes him strive to justify himself.

  • Criticism is dangerous, because it wounds a person’s pride, hurts his sense of importance (everyone wants to feel important/wanted) and arouses resentment.

  • Instead of condemning everyone, try to figure out why they are how they are. “To know all is to forgive all”

  • “I will speak ill of no man… and speak all the good I know of everybody”

  • Many great leaders stood out because of this principle. Men like Abraham Lincoln made it a point at some point in his life to never criticise anyone.

Principle 1: Don’t criticise, condemn, or complain.

The Big Secret of Dealing with People

  • There is only one way to make someone do something, which is making them want to do it.

  • The deepest craving in human nature is the craving to be appreciated.

  • The best way to develop the best that is in a person is through appreciation and encouragement. – Charles Schwab

  • Be anxious to praise and loath to find fault.

  • “Once I did bad and that I heard ever/Twice I did good, but that I heard never”

  • Let others know you appreciate them or something about them often

  • There is a major difference between appreciation and flattery.

  • Don’t just tell someone something small like “You’re doing great” or “Looking good!”, but tell them HOW they’re doing great, or what about them looks good, etc…

  • Tell others you appreciated something they did, for example: tell a chef of some restaurant that you really enjoyed his meal. Tell a hotel manager that your room was very well kept… etc

Principle 2: Give honest and sincere appreciation.

He Who Can do this Holds the Whole World with Him. He Who Cannot Walks a Lonely Way

  • Think about things from other people’s perspective

  • Put the other person’s wants before your own

  • Convince this person of how something can benefit them

  • Arouse in the other person an eager want

Principle 3: Arouse in the other person an eager want.

Do This and You’ll be Welcome Anywhere

  • You can make more friends in 2 months by becoming genuinely interested in other people than you can in two years trying to get people interested in you.

  • We like people whom admire us.

  • “We are interested in others when they are interested in us” – Publilius Syrus

  • Greet people with animation and enthusiasm.

  • Say Hello to people in a way that shows you are pleased to talk with them.

Principle 4: Become genuinely interested in other people

A Simple Way to Make a Good Impression

  • Actions speak louder than words. A smile says “I like you. You make me happy. I am glad to see you”

  • Smile, don’t give an insincere grin. Insincere grins are mechanical and resented. Give real, heart-warming smiles that uplift the room.

  • Smile even when on the phone. Your smile will come through the phone through your voice.

  • You must have a good time meeting people if you expect them to have a good time meeting you.

  • If you don’t feel like smiling, force yourself to smile. Act as if you were already happy, and that will tend to actually make you happy. Psychologist William James – “Action seems to follow feeling, but really action and feeling go together…. Thus, the sovereign voluntary path to cheerfulness… is to sit up cheerfully and to act and speak as if cheerfulness was already there…”

  • Your mental attitude determines your happiness. “There is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so” – Shakespeare

  • To someone who has seen a dozen people scowl, frown, or turn away their faces, your smile will be like the sun breaking through the clouds.

Principle 5: Smile

If You Don’t Do This, You are Headed for Trouble

  • People value their name or whatever nickname it is that they go by.

  • Remember people’s names. Make an effort to remember their names the first try. Don’t even spell the name wrong if you can.

Principle 6: Remember that a person’s name is to that person the sweetest and most important sound in any language.

An Easy Way to Become a Good Conversationalist

  • If you want to be a good conversationalist, be an attentive listener. To be interesting, be interested. Ask questions that people will enjoy answering. Encourage them to talk about themselves and their accomplishments.

Principle 7: Be a good listener. Encourage others to talk about themselves.

How to Interest People

  • The royal road to a person’s heart is to talk about things he or she treasures most.

  • Try and focus on what that person is interested in and talk about it. Theodore Roosevelt, before having a visitor in his office, used to study topics he knew his guest would be interested in discussing before they came over.

Principle 8: Talk in terms of the other person’s interests

How to Make People Like You Instantly

  • Always make the other person feel important

  • “Do unto others as you would have others do unto you”. If you want to be appreciated, feel important, worthwhile, give that feeling to others first.

Principle 9: Make the other person feel important – and do it sincerely

How to Win People to Your Way of Thinking

You Can’t Win an Argument

  • Avoid arguments like you would rattlesnakes or earthquakes. Most of the time, they’ll just make someone feel embarrassed, uncomfortable, or hurt their pride and make them feel inferior to you.

  • There once was a truck salesman friend of Dale Carnegie. He wouldn’t sell many trucks because he would argue a lot with customers who would complain or make remarks about the trucks he would sell. After Dale advised him to stop arguing, the salesman became one of the best salesmen his company had ever seen. If someone said something like “I don’t want a white truck! I’m going to go buy _______ truck from (random company)!” The truck salesman could agree with the salesman that the competitor’s truck was indeed a good truck and speak of its quality. THEN, he would go back and speak about the quality of the white truck he was trying to sell.

  • A misunderstanding is never ended by an argument but by tact, diplomacy, conciliation and a sympathetic desire to see the other person’s viewpoint.

  • If someone tries to argue with you and brings up a point you haven’t thought of, show them appreciation of that point and talk on that.

  • Don’t trust your first instinct when you feel an argument coming up. Sometimes we react harshly when we feel we have to defend ourselves or a certain point. Sometimes it brings out the worst in us.

  • Control your temper.

  • Listen First. Give them a chance to talk and try to find understandings.

  • Look for areas of agreement.

  • Apologize for mistakes or errors you’ve made while arguing. Pride aside.

  • Promise to think over your opponents’ ideas and study them carefully and mean it. Your opponent could be right, and it’s better you check it out and learn then them say “I tried to tell you, but you wouldn’t listen”.

  • Thank your opponents for their interest in what you were discussing and them wanting to improve upon what you believe.

  • Perhaps postpone a debate/argument for a day so that you both can get your head clear and gather facts together. Gives you both more time to think through each other’s points and whether the argument is worth your friend’s pride or not. What might you lose if you win the argument?

Principle 10: The only way to get the best of an argument is to avoid it.

Never say to anyone "You're Wrong.

  • Telling someone they're wrong is a direct blow at their intelligence, pride and self-respect.

  • If you are going to prove anything, try not to let anyone know about it. Do it subtly and adroitly so that no one knows you’re doing it.

  • Alexander Pope – “Men must be taught as if you taught them not, and things unknown proposed as things forgot”

  • If a person makes a statement you KNOW is wrong, try saying something like “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”

  • Using the term “I may be wrong. Let’s examine the facts” or something like it can do wonders.

  • Respect other’s opinions and treat them courteously.

  • Don’t tell anyone they’re wrong about something. Use diplomacy to make your point.

Principle 11: Show respect for the other person’s opinions. Never say “you’re wrong”.

If You’re Wrong, Admit It

  • Be humble by saying derogatory things about yourself you know the other person wants to say or intends to say – chances are they will then have a forgiving attitude towards you and minimise your mistakes in their minds.

  • There is a certain degree of satisfaction which can be found in admitting one’s errors. It takes the guilt and defensiveness out of the air, but also helps solve the problem created by the error.

Principle 12: If you are wrong, admit it quickly and emphatically.

A Drop of Honey

  • If your temper is aroused and you go off on someone and tell them a thing or two, you might feel good afterwards, but how does that person feel? Do they want to agree with your points after you embarrassed them and attacked their pride?

  • “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 each other, understand why it is that we differ, just what the points at issue are,’ we will presently find that 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 candour and the desire to get together, we will get together.” – Woodrow Wilson

  • “So, with men, if you would win a man to your cause, first convince him that you are his sincere friend”

  • O.L. Straub, an engineer, needed to get his rent lowered or he wouldn’t be able to afford it. Instead of going in and trying to argue prices immediately or how ridiculously high the rent was, he discussed with the landlord how much he liked the apartments and how great of a job O.L. had done running the place. He then said he wanted to stay for another year, but he simply couldn’t afford it. The landlord, as notoriously difficult to deal with as he was, actually went out of his way after to help O.L. achieve a lower and more affordable rent.

Principle 13: Begin in a friendly way.

The Secret of Socrates

  • In talking with people, don’t start by discussing things of which you differ in. Instead, talk about…and keep emphasising on, the things you have in common.

  • Keep emphasising, if possible, that you are both striving towards the same end and that your only difference is one of method and not of purpose. Try to keep your opponent saying “yes, yes” instead of “no”. Once in the “no” state, a person will try to remain consistent with that statement in order to keep up their pride.

  • The skillful speaker will at first, get a lot of “yes” responses. This sets the psychological process of the listeners moving in the affirmative direction.

  • Once in the “no” state, it takes a LOT of effort and wisdom to try and transform that bristling negative into an affirmative

  • Ask questions which your opponent is forced to agree with (yes!). Keep on winning one admission after another until you have an armful of yeses to build upon, making your opponent possibly want to conclude with your side being right instead of their own.

Principle 14: Get the other person saying “Yes, Yes” immediately.

The Safety Valve in Handling Complaints

  • Most people trying to win others to their way of thinking do too much talking themselves.

  • Let the other person talk themselves out. They know a lot more about their business and problems than you do. So, ask them questions and hear them out.

  • If you disagree with them, don’t interrupt. Let them finish. If you interrupt, they’ll still have a stream of ideas running through their heads.

  • Encourage them to express everything out.

  • (side tip) Almost every successful person likes to reminisce about his early struggles (remember that for interviews or building rapport)

  • “If you want to make enemies, excel your friends. If you want friends, let your friends excel you”. In other words, build your friends up. Listen to their accomplishments. Don’t boast about your own. Mention your achievements only when asked.

Principle 15: Let the other person do a great deal of the talking

How to Get Cooperation

  • Most people prefer to feel that they are acting on their own ideas or buying on their own accord, not told or sold something.

  • Let the person feel an idea is his or hers

  • Ask for their ideas or advice about something

Principle 16: Let the other person feel that the idea is his or hers

A Formula that Will Work Wonders for You

  • Remember to not condemn someone for being wrong, even if they are DEAD wrong. The wise try to understand why this person would say something like that.

  • Try to put yourself in that person’s shoes and try to figure out why they act how they do or why they would say something like they did.

  • Try to think through that person’s point of view and think why someone should want to adapt to your point of view, and also how they would like to hear what you are saying.

Principle 17: Try honestly to see things from the other person’s point of view.

What Everybody Wants

  • One phrase that eliminates ill will, creates good will, and gets people listening to you better: “I don’t blame you one iota for feeling as you do. If I were you, I would undoubtedly feel just as you do.” You can say this phrase 100% honestly too, because if you truly WERE that person, with their mindset and feelings and background, you really WOULD feel that way. Now if you were YOU in THEIR body, you may obviously think differently.

  • Remember that no one typically deserves a lot of credit for being who they are. Their surroundings, upbringings, etc. help determine that.

  • Three-fourths of the people you meet want sympathy. Give it to them and they will love you.

  • Before you speak back to someone who has offended you or is debating you, remember to try and react differently than just anyone would. Respond how a wise person would react, not just any fool.

Principle 18: Be sympathetic with the other person’s ideas and desires.

An Appeal that Everybody Likes

  • According to J.P. Morgan, everybody usually has two reasons for doing anything: one that sounds good, and then their real reason.

  • The person may know the real reason, but you don’t need to emphasise that. Instead, try appealing to a nobler cause (something that sounds good to your opponent/customer/boss/etc). Show them good motives behind agreeing to what your trying to convince them.

  • Example: When John D. Rockefeller wanted newspaper photographers to stop taking pictures of his children, he appealed to nobler motives. He didn’t say “I don’t want these pictures taken”, but instead, said “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.”

Principle 19: Appeal to the nobler motives

The Movies Do it. TV Does it. Why Don’t You Do it?

  • Dramatization: The truth must be vivid, interesting, dramatic… you have to use showmanship. Do this if you want attention.

  • This does not mean lying but saying something that dramatizes the importance of something that you’re talking about or trying to convey.

Principle 20: Dramatise your ideas

When Nothing Else Works, Try This;

  • Stimulate competition, not in a sordid money-getting, but in the desire to excel.

  • People love the chance to express themselves, their worth, and to show their importance.

  • Examples of things to say to stimulate completion: “I didn’t realize you were lazy/a coward/quitter/etc…” “You’re right. You probably shouldn’t take that class. Only smart people can pass that class”

Principle 21: Throw down a challenge

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

If You Must Find Fault, this is the Way to Begin

  • It is always more comfortable to hear something unpleasant about ourselves after we have heard some praise about one of our good points.

  • A barber always lathers a man before he shaves him

  • Imagine a dentist about to perform drilling. Yes, the patient is about to get drilled, but the dentist gives him Novocain to dull the pain.

Principle 22: Begin with praise and honest appreciation

How to Criticise — and Not Be Hated for It

  • Many people begin their criticism with sincere praise, but then follow it with the word “but” and end with a critical statement, such as “I’ve got to say bro, you’re looking swollen, but your legs make it look like you don’t even lift”.

  • Once someone hears the “but”, it makes them question the sincerity of the praise and that it was only put there to cushion the insult coming.

  • Try replacing the word “but” with “and”. Example: “I’ve got to say bro, you’re looking thick, solid, tight… and if you work your legs a bit harder people will def. think you’re shredded”

  • The praise now comes off as sincere and may make that person want to live up to our expectations

Principle 23: Call attention to people’s mistakes indirectly.

Talk About Your Own Mistakes First

  • It feels a lot better to hear someone talk about their faults and kind of “get down on your level” in a sense before they point out yours.

  • Admitting one’s own mistakes – even when one has corrected them – can help convince someone to change their behaviour.

Principle 24: Talk about your own mistakes before criticising the other person

No One Likes to Take Orders

  • Giving suggestions instead of giving orders saves a person’s pride and gives him a sense of importance. It encourages cooperation instead of rebellion.

  • Asking questions instead of ordering someone around can make an order seem more palatable and often stimulates the creativity of the person’s you ask. Example: “DO THIS!” versus “You think it’d be a good idea to try this next time...?”

Principle 25: Ask questions instead of giving direct orders

Let the Other Person Save Face

  • “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.” – Antoine de Saint-Exupery

  • Don’t belittle a person basically

Principle 26: Let the other person save face

How to Spur People to Success

  • Praise people on their improvements.

  • Words of praise can change someone’s life. Can you think of a moment where someone’s praise encouraged you and led you to becoming more successful?

  • Enrico Caruso, one of the greatest and most successful opera singers, was once told by a teacher when he was 10 that he couldn’t sing. His mother’s praise was what helped motivate him to continue trying anyway.

  • Give specific praise. Not just short flattery.

  • Abilities wither under criticism; they blossom under encouragement.

Principle 27: Praise the slightest improvement and praise every improvement. Be “hearty in your approbation and lavish in your praise.”

Give a Dog a Good Name

  • “The average person can be led readily if you have his or her respect and if you show that you respect that person for some kind of ability.”

  • If you want to improve a person in a certain space, act as though that particular trait were already one of his or her outstanding characteristics.

  • For an example, instead of firing someone for slipping up, first try telling them what a valuable asset they have been in the past (if they truly have) and tell them they’ve been slipping up a bit lately and that you would like to work with them to help fix this problem.

  • Change the person’s attitude or behaviour by giving them a big reputation to lead up to. Example: Telling them they have the qualities of a leader and you can see it by their work ethic. Perhaps the person will start working harder after that to live up to that reputation.

Principle 28: Give the other person a fine reputation to live up to.

Make the Fault Seem Easy to Correct

  • Praise someone’s good points and minimise the person’s faults. You could say something like “All it would take is a little _________ and you could be great!”

  • Let the other person know you have faith in them to get over that obstacle.

Principle 29: Use encouragement. Make the fault seem easy to correct.

Making People Glad to Do What You Want

  • Always make the other person happy about doing what you have suggested.

  • Be sincere. Do not promise anything you can’t deliver.

  • Know exactly what it is you want the other person to do.

  • Be empathetic. Ask yourself what it is the other person really wants.

  • Consider the benefits the person will receive from doing what you suggest.

  • Match those benefits to the person’s wants.

  • When you make a request, put it in a form that shows the other person how they will benefit from it.

Principle 30: Make the other person happy about doing the thing you suggest.


What did I take from it.

There is so much wisdom in this book but what stood out for me most was the six ways to make people like you. On the surface this might sound quite a sad statement; but actually, your whole success in life, weather that be financial and other; will completely depend on the relationships you will form. No person can become successful on his/her own. You will need a network of people to help you succeed, and therefore you must be surrounded by people who can help you, who wants to help you; and therefore, needs to like you. There is nothing genius about these six ways; but know that I fail on them daily. Basically, comes down to one sentence. Always make the other person feel special.

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. ...

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

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

My Rating

For Warren Buffet to say, "This book changed my life"; it had to be special. Next to the Bible; I yet have to read a book that made more of an impact on me.

How To Win Friends was a revolutionary book because it put firmly into the public's mind that human relations are more understandable than we think, and that people skills can be systematically learned. It also proposed that we don't truly influence a person until we like and respect them first.

You Can Listen To The Audiobook Here

You Can Download a PDF Version Here