Book Review: How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie

How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie, New York: Simon & Schuster. ©1936 Dale Carnegie, Revised edition ©1981 Donna Dale Carnegie & Dorothy Carnegie

This book is a classic on human relations. It has influenced a lot of successful people like the American business magnate Warren Buffet, but it also helped the likes of Charles Manson (American cult leader). But don't get me wrong about the book there, it's up to the reader on how to use the information here. The principles are still based on basic goodwill and sound virtue.

Actually, the main points of this book can be summarized into two:
1) The Golden Rule: Jesus' words in Matthew 7:12 ""Do to others what you want them to do to you."
2) Appreciate, don't criticize.

I read this book with an expectation that I would discover the magical secret that would make me instantly likable and popular. I was surprised when the advice was simple, straightforward, and common sense. "Smile more,""Remember people's names," and "Listen more," were included and might sound simple, but the author includes entertaining anecdotes from his own experiences or from other people. The author often includes examples from the lives of famous influential people at that time like Abraham Lincoln, Benjamin Franklin, Andrew Carnegie, Theodore Roosevelt, and John Rockefeller.

Since this book was written in the 1930s, some examples may be unfamiliar and outdated. It is not a boring read, it's entertaining and funny in places. There's something about the language of older books that's more beautiful and poetic than the language of most modern books. It's not that they are filled with purple prose, but the style is better.

The book is divided into four parts: how to be liked; how to influence and persuade; how to deal with arguments and disagreements; and the last part is how to be an effective leader. The Wikipedia page for this book includes a short summary of the most important points.

The book is simple and straightforward, the author writes in a motivating way that encourages you to try his practical advice. I tried to apply some principles in the book in my interactions with friends, and I feel that I've improved in them a bit. This book is helpful for someone who thinks that he or she needs to improve on social skills - the advice is encouraging and a few small changes in our interactions can have a positive effect.

Interesting to note that this book is the first one to be called "Self Help" and launched that genre. Here's a list of the book's main points (source):

Techniques in Handling People

  1. Don't criticize, condemn or complain.
  2. Give honest and sincere appreciation.
  3. Arouse in the other person an eager want.

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. Encourage others to talk about themselves.
  5. Talk in terms of the other person's interests.
  6. Make the other person feel important – and do it sincerely.

Win people to your way of thinking

  1. The only way to get the best of an argument is to avoid it.
  2. Show respect for the other person's opinions. Never say, “You're wrong.”
  3. If you are wrong, admit it quickly and emphatically.
  4. Begin in a friendly way.
  5. Get the other person saying “yes, yes” immediately.
  6. Let the other person do a great deal of the talking.
  7. Let the other person feel that the idea is his or hers.
  8. Try honestly to see things from the other person's point of view.
  9. Be sympathetic with the other person's ideas and desires.
  10. Appeal to the nobler motives.
  11. Dramatize your ideas.
  12. Throw down a challenge.

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

  1. Begin with praise and honest appreciation.
  2. Call attention to people's mistakes indirectly.
  3. Talk about your own mistakes before criticizing the other person.
  4. Ask questions instead of giving direct orders.
  5. Let the other person save face.
  6. Praise the slightest improvement and praise every improvement. Be “hearty in your approbation and lavish in your praise.”
  7. Give the other person a fine reputation to live up to.
  8. Use encouragement. Make the fault seem easy to correct.
  9. Make the other person happy about doing the thing you suggest.

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