Book Summary: How To Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie
By Marybeth Welty
Have you ever heard the saying, ‘People don’t choose to work with other people because of their skills or how good they are at what they do. Instead they choose to work with the people they like.’?
It’s so true! We surround ourselves - family, friends, colleagues, employees, and partners with the people who we feel the most comfortable with and like the best.
So how do you get people to like you?
Originally published in 1936, Dale Carnegie’s classic How to Win Friends and Influence People is a foundational self-help guide to managing people and getting them to like you.
Honestly, this book should really be called: How to get people to like you, how to communicate effectively, and how to get people to see your way of thinking.
The fact that this book was written and published in 1936 (is that a typo? nope!) originally had me feeling a bit skeptical - how could this be applicable to life and relationships today? Will this really be worth my time? In actuality, this book is SO relevant to our modern 2021 world that, at times, it gave me chills to think of how these same methods and approaches are just as valid, just as useful today as they were almost 90 years ago…and have been for that whole 90 years!
Regardless of whether we are applying this to clients, colleagues, business partners, subcontractors, friends, family, and really anyone, this book will help us with any and every relationship we have in our lives.
It really is a fundamental guide to the psychology of human communication and relationships.
It is SO applicable to life that it transcends cultures, religions, and geographic regions. “Over 30 million copies have been sold worldwide, making it one of the best-selling books of all time. In 2011, it was number 19 on Time Magazine's list of the 100 most influential books.” From Wikipedia.
GoodReads says this self-help book has over 117 different editions and, “ will help you achieve your maximum potential in the complex and competitive modern age…You can go after the job you want...and get it! You can take the job you have...and improve it! You can take any situation you're in...and make it work for you!” Seriously, how can we not be into that?!
The book is separated into 4 parts:
Fundamental Techniques in Handling People
Six Ways To Make People Like You
How To Win People To Your Way Of Thinking
Be A Leader
And within each part there are several “rules” to which you can apply. Some of my favourite antidotes from each part are below.
Part 1 - Fundamental Techniques in Handling People
In part 1, I love how he begins by identifying that we are not beings of logic, we are creatures of emotion - each and every one of us. Sometimes it’s really important to have that reality check for ourselves to help us get out of our own heads, step back a bit, and realize that we are all influenced by our emotions more than we realize.
If we are going to understand how to navigate the emotional waters, we must realize that we all have a deep desire to feel important.
Appreciation > flattery. Just because we are creatures of emotion doesn’t mean we are oblivious to the difference between appreciation and flattery. Appreciation will show people you care on a deeper level while flattery stays on the surface. If we want to learn how to communicate with people and see things from their perspective, we have to go deep. So show your employees, friends, and family that you appreciate them.
“Bait the hook to suit the fish” - tailor your conversation, way of thinking/communicating, and approach to appeal to the person you are interacting with. Similarly, if you want to persuade someone to do something for you, try asking yourself, “How can I make this person want to do it?”. Putting yourself in the other person’s shoes is HUGE. Dale talks about this and emphasizes this throughout the book .
If you have to correct someone, encouragement is a much more effective teaching strategy than punishment. Think about what someone likes or would want and show them how they can get it. By doing this you can arouse an “eager want” (Dale’s words) in the other person. Again, put yourself in their shoes. 🥿👠👢👞👟🥾
Probably the biggest teaching of the book is, “If there is one secret to success, it lies in the ability to see someone else’s point of view and see things from someone else’s angle as well as your own.”
Part 2 - Six Ways To Make People Like You
Part 2 is all about how to get people to like you. Basically you need to get really good at being more interested in other people (or at least show other people that you are more interested in them) than you are in yourself.
Why should we show others we are more interested in them than ourselves? Because we all like people who admire us. Again, we are creatures of emotion.
Number one law in getting someone to like you or to do the exact opposite? Always make the other person feel important. If you fail to do this, if you make the other person feel like they are not important, then you’ve lost them. I’ve recently experienced this in a romantic relationship. If we don’t feel important in a relationship then the connection is gone. This applies to every type of relationship though, not just romantic.
Always always always remember so many ancient teachings that continuously remind us to do unto others as you would have them do unto you.
Almost every person we meet thinks that they are superior to us in some way. Not only is the human race creatures of emotion, we are all inherently selfish. We can really impress people and get them to like us if we can subtly acknowledge their superiority in a particular situation or topic, and let them know we could learn from them. I am a firm believer that each person is good at something and we could all learn something from each other.
How do you get someone to like you? Be a good listener (this one piece of advice is so underrated it’s astonishing). Talk about the things the other person is interested in. If you talk to people about themselves and become genuinely interested in them they will definitely begin to like you. 👌
PRO TIP: Simple way to make a good first impression is to remember people’s names. Why? Because we LOVE to feel important. 🥰
Part 3 - How To Win People To Your Way Of Thinking
Part three is all about how NOT to argue. Why? Because you cannot win an argument.
Both people leave an argument feeling like they absolutely won and the other absolutely lost. What do you gain from this other than boosting your own ego? 🤔
If you feel an argument coming on, Dale recommends asking yourself, “Do you want an academic theatrical victory or do you want someone’s goodwill?” That’s because when you feel like you won, chances are you have alienated the other person because you have implied they are wrong and they don’t know what they are talking about, etc. You hurt their feelings and that feeling sticks with them. 💔
If you’re wrong, admit it quickly, enthusiastically, and emphatically. It doesn’t have to be a whole production or event to admit you were wrong. You could say something simple like, “Oh, you’re right! I totally forgot about that!” Easy peasy. The longer we dwell on the fact that we are wrong, the more ‘in our head’ we can get, which makes it that much harder to admit you’re wrong. So just suck it up and admit it quickly and enthusiastically and move on. You got this. 👍🏻
Alas, sometimes we know that we really are just right and the other person is not. In this case, Dale wants us to try to win people to our way of thinking gently.
So how do we get them to see our way of thinking? Use the Socratic Method. Ask them questions they can relate to at the very beginning that have them saying yes right away. Socrates knew once he had people saying yes to everything then he knew that he could win them over to his viewpoint. This is a really valuable lesson in business when we think about “selling” to clients.
REMEMBER: Cooperativeness in conversation is achieved when you show you consider the other persons ideas and feelings as important as your own.
The best way to win someone over to your way of thinking is by steering the purpose or direction of the conversation, crafting what you say as if you were the listener, and accepting the others viewpoint. For the 1000th time, put yourself in their shoes.
If you really need to and when all else fails, there are two strategies he recommends: Use showmanship and/or instill a healthy dose of competition to motivate people into your way of thinking. People have a natural desire to excel, to feel important. Using very carefully crafted psychological games you can turn someone’s way of thinking by trying to make it into a competition or by allowing them to show off their success.
Part 4 - How To Be A Leader
Part 4 really applies to any situation where you could be leading. That could be in parenthood, at work with employees, with clients, people who are teachers, in management/supervisor positions, mentorship positions, etc.
Start with praise before criticizing. This idea reminds me of the sandwich method. Have you heard of it? Basically it’s this idea that if you need to give someone criticism, constructive feedback, or draw attention to their mistakes you should begin with a compliment/positive feedback/praise first, then hit them with the criticism, and then finish with more positivity.
While giving the criticism though, Dale recommends instead of using the word “but” use “and”. So for example, “Hey Abby, I love the way you’ve collected all your shoes in this one area AND now we can easily decide which ones you love the most!” I can use this technique while I help my clients declutter. 😍
In the criticism stage, we could draw attention to our miscomings/mistakes first before we point out someone else’s. For example, if I was helping Abby organize their entryway I could say, “I have such a hard time hanging up my coat and bag when I come home if I can’t do it right by the door. If I had to walk across the room every time I would end up just dropping it on the floor.” With the hopes that they would see a reflection of what they do in what I am describing and realize this is not a good approach. I feel like this approach uses a bit of reverse psychology and almost a passive aggressive way of avoiding stating the problem directly…but passive aggressive feels too aggressive haha so I guess you could say it feels “sneaky”.
Dale also points out that people are more likely to except an order when they have had a part in creating it. In order to do this we can ask questions instead of giving direct orders so we can make them think they came up with it. In my example with Abby, after I mentioned my challenge with hanging up my bag and coat, I could ask them, “Do you have that struggle too? ….What would be a good solution that would work for you?…Oh, interesting, I haven’t thought of that! I will have to try that. Would you like to try that too?” Again, sneak sneaky. But hey, if it gets the entryway organized, if the client is happy and if I am happy, that’s all that matters, right?
Overall, this book is an incredible and insightful look at the way we interact and communicate with others.
The better we communicate in our lives the farther we will be able to go personally and professionally, with ourselves and with others. Strengthening our knowledge and understanding of the human condition and the psychology around what matters deepest to all of us (the need to feel important and heard) can only make us smarter and more adept at helping ourselves, our families, our clients, and our communities. I highly recommend this book for everyone: teens, adults, people in business, teachers, doctors, lawyers, etc. etc. etc. Literally everyone can benefit from reading and understanding Dale’s principles on How To Win Friends And Influence People.
Marybeth Welty is a Professional Organizer, Interior Designer, and Mindful Living Coach, and is the owner of Sustainable Lifestyle Solutions. She helps her clients create a calm, organized, and sustainable home and the life of their dreams by utilizing refined design principles, organizing best practices, mental wellness strategies, and a holistic lifestyle approach to sustainability. You can connect with her at www.sustainablelifestylesolutions.com and on Instagram at @this_sustainable_lifestyle.
Melanie McConnell is a Professional Organizer and the owner of Mello Spaces. She helps busy professionals and parents get the organized home of their dreams. Check out her website www.mellospaces.com and follow her on Instagram: @mellospaces
Florena Davies is a Professional Organizer and Owner of Organize by Flo. She uses her experience as a wife and mother of 2 to create real life organizational systems and changes for work and home that allow our 2 worlds to co-exist and 'Flo" together. Check out her website at https://www.organizebyflo.com/ and on instagram @organizebyflo.