How to Win Friends and Influence People

How to Win Friends and Influence People

What you’ll learn


This classic by Dale Carnegie has been in print for over 80 years. The book is for anyone who wants to learn how to work effectively with people, to handle conflicts more gracefully, to criticize without offending, and to win others to alternative ways of thinking. Carnegie outlines numerous principles, each full of anecdotes and the writings of famous intellectuals and politicians, as well as his own personal experiences. The principles give the reader insights into what makes humans tick and makes them happy. Carnegie maintains that following these principles will pave the way for more meaningful friendships, wider influence, and greater success in life. 

1. Criticism demoralizes people and causes them to resent you, rather than respect you.


Most people, from the criminal to the average citizen, tend to avoid taking responsibility for their actions. Many will blame anyone and anything before owning their mistakes. When you condemn someone’s actions, it puts them on their back foot, and they will become defensive, attempt to rationalize their actions, and probably feel embittered toward you. Criticism demoralizes the home and workplace and usually fails to improve performance or change the behavior being criticized. Psychologist William James surmised that the deepest human longing is the need to feel appreciated. Given these two proclivities—the avoidance of criticism and the hunger for appreciation—it will serve you well to remember that encouragement is a far more effective than criticism. It breeds empathy and tolerance instead of resentment.

2. People always respond positively to encouragement and genuine expressions of appreciation.


If you ever want people to do what you want, you will need to find a way to make the action seem desirable to them. Like criticism, threats and coercion are crass and ineffective motivators and often bring unintended negative consequences. American philosopher John Dewey made a similar observation about the human condition to William James. In Dewey’s estimation, the need to feel important is the strongest human desire. This craving motivates everything we do in life. People go to great lengths to attain the feeling of importance. By expressing appreciation, you can give a great gift to others—one that, unfortunately, we tend to bestow rather sparingly. Let us distinguish, however, between genuine appreciation and flattery. The former is sincere and has the other’s good in mind, whereas the latter is manipulative and selfish. Figure out a person’s strong points, affirm them, and learn from them.

For centuries, animal trainers have recognized the power of positive regard and affirmation to inspire the desired behavior in their animals. Give the dog meat when it jumps through the hoop rather than the whip if it fails to. Famed psychologist B.F. Skinner made similar discoveries with his animal experiments, and subsequent studies have revealed that people operate similarly. We can all look back on our lives and think of moments where someone offered a compliment or an inspiring word that gave us the courage to step into something new. The more specific the praise is, the better. A specific timely compliment reveals that a person truly understands something about you. More general praise can feel like flattery. Genuine, heart-felt recognition for another person’s improvement—however small—can unlock hidden potential.  Human capacity grows and flourishes with encouragement, but wilts and shrivels under harsh words.

A barber does not put a razor to a man’s face without applying a soothing lather. If you must criticize, it is best to soften the blow with sincere affirmation. Successful politicians like Coolidge, McKinley, and Lincoln used this tactic to great effect. It is a useful principle for anyone, however, and applies to business and family life as well. Even if the faults are grave, praise before criticism is the most tactful way to pull someone up short without making them feel small.

3. If you want to be liked and respected, be a good listener and show genuine interest in others.


Being a good conversationalist involves more than just talking. In fact, listening intently and, when you do speak, asking good questions are far more critical ingredients. Showing genuine interest in what people say is vital: it will make people feel important, satisfying that all-consuming primal hankering we all have. Sometimes you can tell when someone is not listening to what you’re saying, but rather trying to get another word in edgewise.

It is incredible that managers will make prudent business decisions in many areas, but neglect to employ workers who are good listeners. If workers do not listen to the customers, or get angry over complaints, this is terrible for business and impedes the building of good relationships between managers and their customers.

If you do not want to win friends or influence people, and if you want to be laughed at when your back is turned—or be hated, even—you should definitely talk incessantly about yourself, interrupt people mid-sentence, and pay little-to-no attention to people when they share their thoughts and opinions. If you do, however, want to win friends and influence people, then be a good conversationalist. By listening well, giving undivided attention, and talking about subjects that interest the other person, you will win countless friends.

4. Telling people how wrong they are will turn them against you, so lay down your arms and avoid being argumentative.


Arguing is an ineffective way to change someone’s mind. You might win an argument, but if winning means losing friends and influence, and ultimately failing to convince someone of your belief’s veracity, then your effort was futile. Avoid arguments like the plague.

Even if your position is absolutely correct, if you tell someone he is wrong, he will not consider your position. You could provide the most incisive, innovative, cogent argument, but if you have wounded a person’s pride, your argument will fall on deaf ears, and the person will likely become even more resistant to your position. Telling people how wrong they are only breeds resentment.

The best way to begin is to express openness to the fact that you might be wrong—and that it would not be the first time. It is an expression of humility. Lay down your arms, and your sparring partner will likely do the same, allowing both parties to explore a question more dispassionately now that no one’s feelings are on the line. This approach is far more diplomatic and fruitful. 

Another aspect of this diplomacy is a readiness to admit when you are wrong. If you are in the wrong, and you know it, do not give the person you have wronged a chance to berate you—beat him to it! Given the human tendencies to avoid rejection and resent criticism, let your own tongue condemn you, and be thorough about it. Remember, people do not like to admit to being wrong or take responsibility for their actions; so when you do, you distinguish yourself from the masses and display a humility and nobility that people will note. Oftentimes, your willingness to acknowledge a mistake will be met with a more conciliatory reply than you might expect. As the old adage goes, “By fighting, you never get enough, but by yielding you get more than you expected.”

5. Asking questions is the best way to establish common ground with others.


“A gentle answer turns away wrath,” the ancient Hebrew proverb reads. A gentle question turns away wrath as well. No one modeled this approach better than Socrates, arguably one of the greatest philosophers the world has ever known. When he debated his fellow Athenians over 2,000 years ago, Socrates would counter his opponents’ beliefs with questions. What is more, he would ask questions that were sure to elicit yeses from the person he was debating. After numerous palatable premises had been swallowed, Socrates would draw a conclusion contrary to what his comrade had voiced, but it would be difficult for them to do anything but accept his conclusion, too. This has been a rhetorical strategy for millennia, and modern research in psychology and physiology corroborate its effectiveness as well as the difficulties to persuade once a person has said “no.” Once you say “no,” it seems that your pride obligates you to stick with that answer. The word “no” has biological implications as well. When we say “no,” our muscles tense and hormones are released that render us unlikely to change our minds. Therefore, it is preferable to follow Socrates’ model of collecting some yeses in order to lay a common ground. Such a foundation will more likely bear the weight of differences.

6. Since results matter more than recognition, be willing to let others take the credit.


Because creativity and autonomy are strong human drives, we do not like being told what to do, nor do we like feeling manipulated into a certain course of action that we have not chosen or developed ourselves. We enjoy the feeling of coming up with something on our own, or knowing that we have chosen a path, product, or service of our own accord. Colonel Edward House understood this tendency clearly, and employed the principle brilliantly when he advised President Woodrow Wilson on matters of state. House’s diary entries reveal that the key to success was casually sowing seeds of thought in Wilson’s head. When the idea had percolated for a time, Wilson would confidently present the implanted idea to House and his other advisors as if he had come up with the plan himself. House knew differently but never breathed a word of objection about it because achieving results was far more vital than clamoring for recognition.

7. When it comes to winning hearts and minds, nothing is more effective than empathy.


Any fool can criticize. Don’t be a fool. There is a coherent set of wants and needs behind every pattern of thinking, no matter how wrongheaded it may seem to you. If you walk around in another’s shoes, you will better grasp the reasons behind those wants, making you more sympathetic, more open to his or her cause, and better equipped to help out—ideally to mutually beneficial ends.

A helpful expression that communicates a desire to sympathize with the viewpoint or position of another is, “I do not at all blame you for feeling the way you do. If I were in your situation, I imagine I would feel exactly the same way.” Such a statement will soften even the hardest of hearts. People undergo tremendous difficulty in their lives and often carry their hurt with them. If you have the humility to recognize that and give others the sympathy of which they have likely been deprived, they will love you for it.

When it comes to winning hearts and minds, nothing is more effective than this principle of empathy. Train yourself to see matters from other perspectives.

8. People are motivated by self-interest, so appeal to that when you’re trying to be persuasive.


If you baited a fishhook with strawberries and cream, you would not get a bite. You might enjoy the strawberries, but the fish prefer worms. You need to give them what they want if you hope to reel them in. Similarly, you will only persuade people to act if you speak in terms of their wants instead of your own.

So instead of asking, “How can I make this person do what want?” ask, “How can I make this person want to do it?” As Henry Ford and other business tycoons have discovered, this requires empathy, an ability to discern what other people want and need. It is childish to be so preoccupied with what you need that you fail to see the wants and needs of others. This results in zero-sum situations with a clear winner and loser, instead of seeking mutually advantageous outcomes. The best way to do this is to show how performing an action would benefit them and get them excited about it.

9. You’ll cultivate feelings of loyalty and gratitude if you let others save face when they mess up.


When American steel magnate Charles Schwab saw his employees smoking in the factory—directly below a “No Smoking” sign, no less—instead of yelling at them for blatant misconduct, he approached them and gave them each a cigar and asked that they smoke their newly acquired stogies outside the building. This was a disarming way of drawing attention to a mistake discreetly while also making the wrongdoer feel important.

Another rut that people tend to fall into involves using the incorrect three-letter word. They will affirm a person’s efforts, skills, or qualities, and then say “but,” which often opens the floodgates to criticism. While it is important to express genuine appreciation before finding fault, the “but” followed by a criticism can give the affirmation a contrived texture, thereby failing to alleviate the severity of the message. A better word to use is “and” instead of “but.” An example of this principle would be, “Johnny, you have worked very hard to improve your grades, and, if you continue to be disciplined and diligent, you could graduate with honors!”

These approaches help people save face, which is an important way to maintain cooperation and avoid arousing resentment. It brings shame to a person to bluntly point out mistakes and it is utterly humiliating to do so in front of others. To tear someone’s ego to shreds helps no one. Before letting off steam at another’s expense, take a moment to consider the consequences of those actions. Allowing the guilty party to save face will show him that you are still on his side and wish the best for him, even amidst his mistakes. It alleviates the sting and instills in him a sense of loyalty and gratitude for the graciousness extended.

10. People will perform better if you verbally acknowledge their potential to be better.


If your employee’s performance is noticeably slipping, you could badger him and threaten to fire him if he does not get his act together, or you could give him a standard that he will want to live up to. Even if the desired trait is not a dominant attribute at that time or lies dormant in that person, call it out, and watch that individual earnestly strive to live in accordance with that quality you verbalized. Giving someone a good reputation to live up to has changed lives—all it takes is recognizing a remarkable quality in them that they failed to see in themselves. If you want to be a successful leader, learn to give others good reputations to live up to.



Categories: Articole de interes general

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