How To Win Friends and Influence People: Book Summary

How To Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie.  Zig Ziglar would say “you can have everything in life you want, if you will just help other people get what they want.”  He also said “the most important persuasion tool you have in your entire arsenal is integrity.” Everything that follows should only be used to help people get what they want. 

“Don’t criticize them; they are just what we would be under similar circumstances.” – Abraham Lincoln

Don’t criticize, condemn or complain.  When I’m dealing with you, I’m not dealing with a creature of logic, I’m dealing with a creature of emotion, fueled by prejudices, pride and vanity. Criticism is futile, because it puts you on the defensive and you’ll usually strive to justify yourself. Criticism is dangerous, because it wounds your precious pride, hurts your sense of importance, and arouses resentment.

Give honest and sincere appreciation. There is only one way I can get you to do anything, and that’s by making you want to do it. And the only way I can get you want to do anything is by giving you what you want. If you tell me what makes you feel important, I’ll tell you what you want, it’s the most significant thing about you. So if some people are so hungry for a feeling of importance they’ll actually go insane to get it, imagine what I can achieve by giving you honest appreciation and gratitude for the things that make people feel important.

Arouse in the other person an eager want. Why would you talk about what you want? That’s absurd. Of course, you’re interested in what you want, you’re eternally interested in it, but no one else is. The rest of us are just like you: we’re interested in what we want. So the only way to influence you is to talk about what you want and show you how to get it. If I want to persuade you to do something, before I speak, I should pause and ask myself: “How can I make you want to do it?” When I have a brilliant idea, instead of making you think it’s mine, why not let you cook and stir the idea yourself. Then you’ll regard it as your own, you’ll like it, and maybe eat a couple of helpings of it.

“Talk to people about themselves, and they will listen for hours.” – Benjamin Disraeli, Former British Prime Minister

Become genuinely interested in other people. You’ll make more friends in two months by becoming interested in other people than you’ll make in two years by trying to get other people interested in you. People are not interested in you, they’re only interested in themselves -morning, noon and after dinner.

Smile. The effect of your smile is powerful – even when it’s unseen. If you use the telephone for selling your products or services, smile when you’re talking on the phone. Your “smile” comes through in your voice. Your smile cannot be bought, begged, borrowed, or stolen, and it does nobody any good until it’s given away. You don’t feel like smiling? Then what? First, force yourself to smile. If you’re alone, force yourself to whistle or hum a tune or sing. Act as if you were already happy, and that will tend to make you happy.

Remember that a person’s name is to that person the sweetest and most important sound in any language. A policy of remembering and honoring the names of his business associates was one of the secrets of Andrew Carnegie’s leadership. He was proud of the fact that he could call most of his factory workers by their first names, and he boasted that while he was personally in charge, no strike ever disturbed his flaming steel mills. You should be aware of the magic contained in a name, it makes someone unique among all others. The request you are making takes on a special importance when you approach the situation with the name of the individual. From the waitress to the senior executive, their name will work magic as you deal with others.

Be a good listener. Encourage others to talk about themselves. If you aspire to be a good conversationalist, be an attentive listener. To be interesting, be interested. Ask questions that other people will enjoy answering. Encourage them to talk about themselves and their accomplishments. Remember that the people you are talking to are a hundred times more interested in themselves and their wants and problems than they are in you and your problems. Their toothache means more to them than a famine in China – which kills a million people.

Talk in terms of the other person’s interests. Whenever President Roosevelt expected a visitor, he sat up late the night before, reading up on the subject in which he knew his guest was particularly interested. For Roosevelt knew, as all leaders know, that the royal road to your heart is to talk about the things you treasure most.

Make the other person feel important – and do it sincerely. There is one all-important law of human conduct. If you obey this law, you’ll never get into trouble. In fact, this law, if obeyed, will bring you countless friends and constant happiness. But the instant you break the law, you’ll get into endless trouble. The law is this: Always make the other person feel important.

“A man convinced against his will is of the same opinion still.” – Proverb

The only way to get the best of an argument is that to avoid it. You can’t win an argument. You can’t because if you lose it, you lose it; and if you win it, you lose it. Why? Suppose you triumph over another person and shoot his argument full of holes? You’ll feel fine, but you’ll have made him feel inferior and hurt his pride, and he’ll resent your triumph. Instead: control your temper, listen first, look for areas of agreement, be honest, promise to think over your opponent’s ideas and study them carefully, and postpone action to give both sides time to think through the problem.

Show respect for the other person’s opinions. Never say, “You’re wrong.” You’re not logical. You’re prejudiced and biased with preconceived notions, with jealousy, suspicions, fears, envy and pride. You don’t want to change your mind about your religion or your haircut or your favorite movie star, and neither does anyone else. Socrates said repeatedly to his followers in Athens: “One thing only I know, and that is that I know nothing.” Don’t tell anyone they’re wrong. Show respect for their opinions, and use a little diplomacy. Try something like: “I may be wrong. I frequently am. Let’s examine the facts.”

If you are wrong, admit it quickly and emphatically.  Any fool can try to defend his or her mistakes, and most fools do. When you’re right, try to win people gently and tactfully to your way of thinking, and when you’re wrong – and that will be surprisingly often if you’re honest with yourself – admit your mistakes quickly and with enthusiasm. Not only will that technique produce astonishing results; but, believe it or not, it is a lot more fun, under the circumstances, than trying to defend yourself.

Begin in a friendly way. Lincoln said that, in effect, over a hundred years ago. Here are his words: “It is an old and true maxim that 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. Therein is a drop of honey that catches his heart; which, say what you will, is the great high road to reason.”

Get the other person saying “yes, yes” immediately. When talking with people, don’t begin by discussing the things on which you differ. Rather, begin by emphasizing the things on which you agree. Keep emphasizing that you’re both striving for the same end and that your only difference is one of method and not of purpose. Keep people, if possible, from saying “No.” When you say “No,” all your pride demands that you remain consistent with yourself. Even if you later feel that the “No” was ill-advised; once having said it, you’ll feel you must stick to it. The skillful speaker gets, at the outset, a number of “Yes” responses. This sets the psychological process of the listeners moving in the affirmative direction. Socrates’ technique, now called the “Socratic method,” was based upon getting a “yes, yes, yes, yes” response. He asked questions with which his opponent would have to agree. He kept on winning one admission after another until he had an armful of yeses. He kept on asking questions until finally, almost without realizing it, his opponents found themselves embracing a conclusion they would have bitterly denied a few minutes previously.

Let the other person do a great deal of the talking. Most people trying to win others to their way of thinking do too much talking themselves. Let other people talk themselves out. They know more about their business and problems than you do. So ask them questions. Let them tell you a few things. If you disagree with them you may be tempted to interrupt. But don’t. It’s dangerous. They won’t pay attention to you while they still have a lot of ideas of their own crying for expression. So listen patiently and with an open mind. Be sincere about it. Encourage them to express their ideas fully. Even our friends would much rather talk to us about their achievements than listen to us boast about ours. Why is that true? Because when our friends excel us, they feel important; but when we excel them, they – or at least some of them – will feel inferior and envious.

“In every work of genius we recognize our own rejected thoughts; they come back to us with a certain alienated majesty.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson

Let the other person feel that the idea is his or hers. You don’t like to feel that you’re being sold something or told what do to. You much prefer to feel that you’re buying of your own accord or acting on your own ideas. You like to be consulted about your wishes, your wants, your thoughts. Don’t you have more faith in ideas that you discover for yourself than in ideas that are handed to you on a silver platter? If so, isn’t it bad judgment to try to ram your opinions down the throats of other people? Isn’t it wiser to make suggestions, and let the other person think out the conclusion?

Try honestly to see things from the other person’s point of view. Don’t condemn them, try to understand them. There’s a reason why the other person thinks and acts as he does. Ferret out that reason, and you’ll have the key to his actions, and perhaps to his personality. Try to honestly put yourself in his place. If you say to yourself, “How would I feel, how would I react if I were in his shoes?” you’ll save yourself time and irritation, because with knowledge of the cause, you’re less likely to dislike the effect. In addition, you’ll sharply increase your skill in human relationships.  Like Presidents Lincoln and Roosevelt keenly understood, the only foundation for successful interpersonal relationships depends on a sympathetic grasp of the other person’s viewpoint.

Be sympathetic with the other person’s ideas and desires. Would you like to have a magic phrase that would stop arguments, eliminate ill feeling, create good will, and make anyone person listen attentively? Here it is: “I don’t blame you one iota for feeling as you do. If I were you I would undoubtedly feel just as you do.”  And you can say that and be 100 percent sincere, because if you were the other person you, of course, would feel just as he does. The only reason, for example, that you’re not a rattlesnake is that your mother and father weren’t rattlesnakes. You deserve very little credit for being what you are, and remember, the people who come to you irritated, bigoted, unreasoning, deserve very little discredit for being what they are. Feel sorry for them. Pity them. Sympathize with them. Three-fourths of the people you’ll ever meet are hungering and thirsting for sympathy. Give it to them, and they’ll love you.

Appeal to the nobler motives. J.P. Morgan once observed that a person usually has two reasons for doing a thing: one that sounds good and a real one. The person himself will think of the real reason, you don’t need to emphasize that. But all of us, being idealists at heart, like to think of motives that sound good. So, in order to change people, you should appeal to the nobler motives. When John D. Rockefeller, Jr., wished to stop newspaper photographers from snapping pictures of his children, he too appealed to the nobler motives. He didn’t say: “I don’t want their pictures published.” No, he appealed to the desire, deep in all of us, to refrain from harming children. He 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.”

Dramatize your ideas. The Movies Do It. TV Does It. Why Don’t You Do It? Merely stating a truth isn’t enough. The truth has to be made vivid, interesting, dramatic. You have to use showmanship. Television commercials abound with examples of the use of dramatic techniques in selling products. Sit down one evening in front of your television set and analyze what the advertisers do in each of their presentations. You’ll note how an antacid medicine changes the color of the acid in a test tube while its competitor doesn’t, how one brand of soap or detergent gets a greasy shirt clean while the other brand leaves it gray. You’ll see a car maneuver around a series of turns and curves, far better than just being told about it. Happy faces will show contentment with a variety of products. All of these dramatize for the viewer the advantages offered by whatever is being sold, and they do get people to buy them.

Throw down a challenge. That is what every successful person loves: the game. The chance for self-expression. The chance to prove his or her worth, to excel, to win. The desire to excel. The desire for a feeling of importance.

“You cannot teach a man anything; you can only help him to find it within himself.” – Galileo

Begin with praise and honest appreciation. Beginning with praise is like the dentist who begins his work with Novocain. The patient still gets a drilling, but the Novocain is pain-killing. A friend of Andrew Carnegie’s was a guest at the White House for a weekend during the administration of Calvin Coolidge. Drifting into the President’s private office, he heard Coolidge say to one of his secretaries, “That’s a pretty dress you are wearing this morning, and you are a very attractive young woman.” That was probably the most effusive praise the President had ever bestowed upon a secretary in his life. It was so unusual, so unexpected, that the secretary blushed in confusion. Then Coolidge said, “Now, don’t get stuck up. I just said that to make you feel good. From now on, I wish you would be a little bit more careful with your punctuation.” His method was probably a bit obvious, but the psychology was superb. It is always easier to listen to unpleasant things after we have heard some praise of our good points.

Call attention to people’s mistakes indirectly. Simply changing one three-letter word can often spell the difference between failure and success in changing people without giving offense or arousing resentment. Many people begin their criticism with sincere praise followed by the word “but” and ending with a critical statement. For example, in trying to change a child’s careless attitude toward studies, you might say, “I’m really proud of you, Johnnie, for raising your grades this term. But if you had worked harder on your algebra, the results would have been better.” In this case, Johnnie might feel encouraged until he heard the word “but.” He might then question the sincerity of the original praise. To him, the praise seemed only to be a contrived lead-in to a critical inference of failure. Credibility would be strained, and we probably would not achieve our objectives of changing Johnnie’s attitude toward his studies. This could be easily overcome by changing the word “but” to “and.” “I’m really proud of you, Johnnie, for raising your grades this term, and by continuing the same conscientious efforts next term, your algebra grade can be up with all the others.” Now, Johnnie would accept the praise because there was no follow-up of an inference of failure. You have called his attention to the behavior we wished to change indirectly, and the chances are he will try to live up to your expectations.

Talk about your own mistakes before criticizing the other person. Andrew Carnegie’s niece, Josephine Carnegie, had come to New York to be his secretary. She was nineteen, had graduated from high school three years previously, and her business experience was a trifle more than zero. One day when he started to criticize her, and after thinking the matter over, honestly and impartially, he concluded that Josephine’s batting average at nineteen was better than his had been. So after that, when he wanted to call Josephine’s attention to a mistake, he used to begin by saying, “You have made a mistake, Josephine, but the Lord knows, it’s no worse than many I have made. You were not born with judgment. That comes only with experience, and you are better than I was at your age. I have been guilty of so many stupid, silly things myself, I have very little inclination to criticize you or anyone. But don’t you think it would have been wiser if you had done so and so?” It isn’t nearly so difficult to listen to a recital of your faults if the person criticizing begins by humbly admitting that he, too, is far from impeccable.

Ask questions instead of giving direct orders. Never say “Do this or do that,” or “Don’t do this or don’t do that.” Try saying, “You might consider this,” or “Do you think that would work?” or “What do you think of this?” Asking questions not only makes an order more palatable; it often stimulates the creativity of the persons whom you ask. You’re more likely to accept an order if you’ve had a part in the decision that caused the order to be issued, because it makes it easy for you to correct errors. It also saves your pride and gives you a feeling of importance. It encourages cooperation instead of rebellion. Always give people the opportunity to do things themselves; never tell people to do things; let them do them, let them learn from their mistakes.

Let the other person save face. How vitally important it is, and how few of you ever stop to think of it. You ride roughshod over the feelings of others, getting your own way, finding fault, issuing threats, criticizing an employee in front of others, without even considering the hurt to the other person’s pride. Whereas a few minutes’ thought, a considerate word or two, a genuine understanding of the other person’s attitude, would go so far toward alleviating the sting. Remember that the next time you’re faced with the distasteful necessity of reprimanding an employee. Even if you’re right and the other person is definitely wrong, you only destroy their ego by causing them to lose face. The legendary French aviation pioneer and author Antoine de Saint-Exupéry wrote: “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.”

Praise the slightest improvement and praise every improvement. Everybody likes to be praised, but when praise is specific, it comes across as sincere, not something you’re saying just to make someone feel good. You crave appreciation and recognition, and you’ll do almost anything to get it. But nobody wants insincerity. Nobody wants flattery. If you inspire people to a realization of their hidden treasures, you’ll do far more than change people, you’ll literally transform them. William James, one of the most distinguished psychologists and philosophers America has ever produced said “Compared with what we ought to be, we are only half awake. We are making use of only a small part of our physical and mental resources. Stating the thing broadly, the human individual thus lives far within his limits. He possesses powers of various sorts which he habitually fails to use.” You also possess powers of  which you habitually fail to use; and one of these powers is your magic ability to praise people and inspire them with a realization of their latent possibilities. To become a more effective leader of people, 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. What do you do when a person who has been a good worker begins to turn in shoddy work? You can fire him or her, but that really doesn’t solve anything. You can berate the worker, but this usually causes resentment. If you want to improve a person in a certain respect, act as though that particular trait were already one of his or her outstanding characteristics. Shakespeare said, “Assume a virtue, if you have it not.” And it might be well to assume and state openly that other people have the virtue you want them to develop. If you want to excel in that difficult leadership role of changing the attitude or behavior of others, give them a fine reputation to live up to, and they will make prodigious efforts rather than see you disillusioned.

Use encouragement. Make the fault seem easy to correct. Tell your child, your spouse, or your employee that he or she is stupid or dumb at a certain thing, has no gift for it, and is doing it all wrong, and you’ve destroyed almost every incentive to try to improve. But use the opposite technique, 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. If you want to help others to improve, remember, use encouragement. Make the fault seem easy to correct.

Make the other person happy about doing the thing you suggest. You should keep the following guidelines in mind when it is necessary to change attitudes or behavior: 1. Be sincere. Do not promise anything that you cannot deliver. Forget about the benefits to yourself and concentrate on the benefits to the other person. 2. Know exactly what it is you want the other person to do. 3. Be empathetic. Ask yourself what it is the other person really wants. 4. Consider the benefits that person will receive from doing what you suggest. 5. Match those benefits to the other person’s wants. 6. When you make your request, put it in a form that will convey to the other person the idea that he personally will benefit. You could give a curt order like this: “John, we have customers coming in tomorrow and I need the stockroom cleaned out. So sweep it out, put the stock in neat piles on the shelves and polish the counter.” Or we could express the same idea by showing John the benefits he will get from doing the task: “John, we have a job that should be completed right away. If it is done now, we won’t be faced with it later. I am bringing some customers in tomorrow to show our facilities. I would like to show them the stockroom, but it is in poor shape. If you could sweep it out, put the stock in neat piles on the shelves, and polish the counter, it would make us look efficient and you will have done your part to provide a good company image.”