In 1936, Dale Carnegie released a masterpiece: “How to Win Friends and Influence People,” sharing thirty timeless principles for engaging people, making them like you, winning them to your way of thinking, and changing their minds without giving offense or arousing resentment. As children grow into teenagers and young adults, they must learn to navigate this world independently. Just as true today as they were nearly a century ago, Carnegie’s keys continue to unlock for readers the powers of persuasion and influence.
I. Fundamental Techniques in Engaging People:
- Don’t criticize, condemn, or complain.
Criticism is futile because it puts a person on the defensive and usually makes them strive to justify themselves.
- Give honest and sincere appreciation.
The deepest principle in human nature is the craving to be appreciated.
- Arouse in the other person an eager want.
The world is full of people who are grabbing and self-seeking; the rare individual who unselfishly tries to serve others has an enormous advantage.
II. Six Ways to Make People Like You:
- Become genuinely interested in other people.
You can make more friends in two months by becoming interested in other people than you can in two years by trying to get other people interested in you.
Don’t feel like smiling? Do it anyways. Act as if you were already happy, and you will be. Feelings follow actions.
- Remember that a person’s name is to that person the sweetest and most important sound in any language.
The information we are imparting or the request we are making takes on a special importance when we approach the situation with the name of the individual. From the waitress to the senior executive, using a person’s name works magic.
- Be a good listener. Encourage the other person to talk about themselves.
If you want to know how to make people shun you and laugh at you behind your back and even despise you, here is the recipe: Never listen to anyone for long. Talk incessantly about yourself. If you have an idea while the other person is talking, don’t wait for him or her to finish: bust right in and interrupt them.
- Talk in terms of the other person’s interests.
The royal road to a person’s heart is to talk about the things he or she treasures most.
- Make the other person feel important and do it sincerely.
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.
III. How to Win People to Your Way of Thinking:
- The only way to get the best of an argument is to avoid it.
There is only one way under high heaven to get the best of an argument—and that is to avoid it.
- Show respect for the other person’s opinions. Never say, “You’re wrong.”
If you are going to prove anything, don’t let anybody know it. Do it so subtly, so adroitly, that no one will feel you are doing it.
- If you’re wrong, admit it quickly and emphatically.
Any fool can try to defend his or her mistakes—and most fools do—but it raises one above the herd and gives one a feeling of nobility and exultation to admit one’s mistakes.
- Begin in a friendly way.
You can catch a lot more flies with honey than you can with vinegar.
- Get the other person saying, “Yes, yes” immediately.
[Socrates] 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 do a great deal of the talking.
If you want enemies, excel your friends; but if you want friends, let your friends excel you.
- Let the other person feel that the idea is his or hers.
The reason why rivers and seas receive the homage of a hundred mountain streams is that they keep below them. Thus, they are able to reign over all the mountain streams.
- Try honestly to see things from the other person’s point of view.
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.
- Be sympathetic with the other person’s ideas and desires.
Three-fourths of the people you will ever meet are hungering and thirsting for sympathy. Give it to them, and they will love you.
- Appeal to nobler motives.
People want to believe in motives like honor and respect. If we appeal to those motives, we are more likely to facilitate buy-in.
- Dramatize your ideas.
Merely stating the truth isn’t enough. The truth has to be made vivid, interesting, and dramatic. You have to use showmanship.
- Throw down a challenge.
The way to get things done is to stimulate competition. I do not mean in a sordid, money-getting way, but in the desire to excel.
IV. Be a Leader: How to Change People Without Giving Offense or Arousing Resentment:
- Begin with honest and sincere appreciation.
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.
- Call attention to other people’s mistakes indirectly. Talk about your own mistakes before criticizing the other person.
Admitting one’s own mistakes—even when one hasn’t corrected them—can help convince somebody to change his behavior.
- Ask questions instead of giving direct orders.
People are more likely to accept an order if they have had a part in the decision that caused the order to be issued.
- 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.
- Praise the slightest improvement and every improvement. Be hearty in your approbation and lavish in your praise.
Praise is like sunlight to the warm human spirit—we cannot flower and grow without it. And yet, while most of us are only too ready to apply to others the cold wind of criticism, we are somehow reluctant to give our fellow the warm praise of sunshine.
- Give the other person a reputation to live up to.
If you want to improve a person in a certain aspect, act as though that particular trait were already one of his or her outstanding characteristics.
- Use encouragement. Make the fault seem easy to correct.
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 order to excel.
- Make the other person happy about doing the thing you suggest.
When you make your request, put it in a form that will convey to the other person the idea that he personally will benefit.
More often than not, masters of persuasion open doors, build bridges, and make the most of opportunities. Carnegie’s genius, now revised in How to Win Friends & Influence People in the Digital Age has inspired countless readers to take their skills of influence to the next level, while helping to popularize a reading genre where anyone can pick up a book and learn anything.
“He that walketh with wise men shall be wise: but a companion of fools shall be destroyed.”
—Proverbs 13:20 KJV
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