Bookshelf

How to Win Friends and Influence People

by Dale Carnegie, 290 pages

Finished on 28th of September, 2022, buy here.
Listen to these book notes on the Teesche Podcast.

Written in 1936, this is the comprehensive guide to learning to behave in a way that makes other people respond more positively towards you. Yes, some people will make us angry, but showing that anger makes it worse, always. Bad title, great message. Be kinder, practice empathy.

πŸš€ The Book in 3 Sentences

  1. Put yourself in the other person’s shoes, not only in times of conflict. Try to understand them and see the world with their eyes.
  2. Be kind, always. Smile, give compliments, listen, be interested.
  3. Sticking to this advice will help you in almost any situation to achieve better results in conversations.

🎨 Impressions

Dale Carnegie first published this book in 1936 and it’s amazing how timeless everything in it is. He apparently had acquired a wide reach and made acquaintance with many impactful people, and while he was able to practice what he preached over the course of many decades, the feedback he received from his thousands of students also confirmed how promising his advice was and still is.

As a side note, the book is interesting as a historical document as well. References to people of the era such as US president Theodore Roosevelt, Al Capone, and German Kaisers put you right into the mindset of the times. He drew many lessons from figures who made a name for themselves during or because of the American Civil War of 1861-1865, which was actually closer to the book’s publication than the publication is to today. Many quotes by Abraham Lincoln enrich Carnegie’s selection of advice, for example.

Two slight downsides of the book would be the title, which seems like an ugly sort of “clickbait”, speaking in today’s terms, and, going hand in hand with it, the self-promotional way Carnegie uses. At times he makes strong cases for you to sign up for his lectures, courses, or speaking engagements, which slightly taint the otherwise timeless nature of the content. This both in no meaningful way diminishes the broader message, though. In my opinion, this book should be read by everyone.

πŸ€ How the Book Changed Me

Although it’s hopefully not been news to anyone that other people have feelings, too, in the heat of the moment in can sometimes be easy to forget about that and put your own interests first using ways of violent communication. It has been helpful for me to read such a book so I can hammer this in and remind myself of it in tense situations with colleagues, partners, clients, family members, and friends.

The self-improvement aspect of the book doesn’t stop there, its other main topic is how to use these techniques for your own personal gain. It’s right there in the title, “influence people”, which is certainly helpful, but seems insincere at first. Thankfully, when reading the book you find out that the only way to achieve this goal is to become sincere in your appreciation, interest, et cetera, because the opposite will fail long-term. It’s good to remember that metaphorical masks don’t get you anywhere.

πŸ“” Highlights & Notes

Part 1: Fundamental Techniques in Handling People

  • For ‘the great aim of education,’ said Herbert Spencer, ‘is not knowledge but action.’
  • If Al Capone, ‘Two Gun’ Crowley, Dutch Schultz, and the desperate men and women behind prison walls don’t blame themselves for anything—what about the people with whom you and I come in contact?
  • Criticism is futile because it puts a person on the defensive and usually makes them strive to justify themselves. Criticism is dangerous, because it wounds a person’s precious pride, hurts their sense of importance, and arouses resentment.
  • The resentment that criticism engenders can demoralise employees, family members and friends, and still not correct the situation that has been condemned.
  • There you are; human nature in action, wrongdoers, blaming everybody but themselves. We are all like that.
  • Lincoln, ‘with malice toward none, with charity for all,’ held his peace. One of his favourite quotations was ‘Judge not, that ye be not judged.’
  • So, as I have already said, Lincoln put the letter aside, for he had learned by bitter experience that sharp criticisms and rebukes almost invariably end in futility.
  • When dealing with people, let us remember we are not dealing with creatures of logic. We are dealing with creatures of emotion, creatures bristling with prejudices and motivated by pride and vanity.
  • Instead of condemning people, let’s try to understand them. Let’s try to figure out why they do what they do.

☝️ Don’t criticise, condemn or complain.

  • The one significant difference between Dillinger, a criminal, and Rockefeller, a hugely successful businessman, is how they got their feeling of importance.
  • Some authorities declare that people may actually go insane in order to find, in the dreamland of insanity, the feeling of importance that has been denied them in the harsh world of reality.
  • ‘I consider my ability to arouse enthusiasm among my people the greatest asset I possess, and the way to develop the best that is in a person is by appreciation and encouragement. (Charles M. Schwab, United States Steel Corp / Bethlehem Steel founder, magnate)
  • ‘There is nothing else that so kills the ambitions of a person as criticisms from superiors. I never criticise anyone. I believe in giving a person incentive to work. So I am anxious to praise but loath to find fault. If I like anything, I am hearty in my approbation and lavish in my praise.’ (Schwab)
  • We often take our spouses so much for granted that we never let them know we appreciate them.
  • The difference between appreciation and flattery? That is simple. One is sincere and the other insincere.

☝️ Give honest and sincere appreciation.

  • Tomorrow you may want to persuade somebody to do something. Before you speak, pause and ask yourself: ‘How can I make this person want to do it?’
  • ‘People who can put themselves in the place of other people, who can understand the workings of their minds, need never worry about what the future has in store for them.’ (Owen D. Young, US laywer and business leader)

☝️ Arouse in the other person an eager want.

Part 2: Ways to Make People Like You

  • 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.

☝️ Become genuinely interested in other people.

  • Actions speak louder than words, and a smile says, ‘I like you. You make me happy. I am glad to see you.’
  • ‘Action seems to follow feeling, but really action and feeling go together; and by regulating the action, which is under the more direct control of the will, we can indirectly regulate the feeling, which is not.’ (William James, psychologist and philosopher)
  • Happiness doesn’t depend on outward conditions. It depends on inner conditions.
  • Abe Lincoln once remarked that ‘most folks are about as happy as they make up their minds to be.’

☝️ Smile.

☝️ Remember that a person’s name is to that person the sweetest and most important sound in any language.

  • 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.
  • So if you aspire to be a good conversationalist, be an attentive listener. To be interesting, be interested. Ask questions that other persons will enjoy answering.
  • For Roosevelt knew, as all leaders know, that the royal road to a person’s heart is to talk about the things he or she treasures most.

☝️ Talk in terms of the other person’s interests.

  • Always make the other person feel important.
  • Little phrases such as ‘I’m sorry to trouble you,’ ‘Would you be so kind as to—?’ ‘Won’t you please?’ ‘Would you mind?’ ‘Thank you’—little courtesies like these oil the cogs of the monotonous grind of everyday life.

☝️ Make the other person feel important—and do it sincerely.

Part 3: How to Win People to Your Way of Thinking

  • I have come to the conclusion that there is only one way under high heaven to get the best of an argument—and that is to avoid it.
  • A man convinced against his will Is of the same opinion still.
  • ‘When two partners always agree, one of them is not necessary.’
  • Never begin by announcing ‘I am going to prove so-and-so to you.’ That’s bad. That’s tantamount to saying: ‘I’m smarter than you are.’
  • Galileo said: You cannot teach a man anything; you can only help him to find it within himself.
  • More helpful statement: ‘Well, now, look. I thought otherwise but I may be wrong. I frequently am. And if I am wrong, I want to be put right. Let’s examine the facts.’
  • I even forbade myself the use of every word or expression in the language that imported a fix’d opinion, such as “certainly,” “undoubtedly,” etc., and I adopted, instead of them, “I conceive,” “I apprehend,” or “I imagine”.
  • In other words, don’t argue with your customer or your spouse or your adversary. Don’t tell them they are wrong, don’t get them stirred up. Use a little diplomacy.

☝️ Show respect for the other person’s opinions. Never say, ‘You’re wrong.’

  • If we know we are going to be rebuked anyhow, isn’t it far better to beat the other person to it and do it ourselves?
  • When we are right, let’s try to win people gently and tactfully to our way of thinking, and when we are wrong—and that will be surprisingly often, if we are honest with ourselves—let’s admit our mistakes quickly and with enthusiasm.
  • The use of gentleness and friendliness is demonstrated day after day by people who have learned that a drop of honey catches more flies than a gallon of gall.
  • The ‘yes, yes’ technique: Ask questions that make the other person agree with you first while explaining the situational context. Example: “Have you rented here before?” I replied, “Yes, several years ago.” He reminded me that I probably paid $25 to $30 for the rental. I said “yes” again. He then asked if I was the kind of person who liked to save money. Naturally, I answered “yes.”

☝️ Get the other person saying ‘yes, yes’ immediately

☝️ Let the other person do a great deal of the talking.

  • ‘In every work of genius we recognise 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.

  • They felt better and I felt better because I had handled the situation with consideration for their point of view.
  • Tomorrow, before asking anyone to put out a fire or buy your product or contribute to your favourite charity, why not pause and close your eyes and try to think the whole thing through from another person’s point of view?

☝️ Try honestly to see things from the other person’s point of view.

  • Say ‘I don’t blame you one bit for feeling as you do. If I were you I would undoubtedly feel just as you do.’
  • Three-fourths of the people you will ever meet are hungering and thirsting for sympathy. Give it to them, and they will love you.

☝️ Be sympathetic with the other person’s ideas and desires.

  • A person usually has two reasons for doing a thing: one that sounds good and a real one. (J. Pierpont Morgan)
  • Say ’As I sat here and listened to your side of the story, I could not help being impressed by your fairness and patience.’
  • ‘That when no information can be secured about the customer, the only sound basis on which to proceed is to assume that he or she is sincere, honest, truthful and willing and anxious to pay the charges, once convinced they are correct.’

☝️ Appeal to the nobler motives.

  • What every successful person loves, is the game, the challenge. The chance for self-expression. The chance to prove his or her worth, to excel, to win. So throw down a challenge.

Part 4: How to Change People Without Giving Offense

☝️ Call attention to people’s mistakes indirectly.

☝️ Talk about your own mistakes before criticising the other person.

☝️ Ask questions instead of giving direct orders.

  • ‘Praise is like sunlight to the warm human spirit; we cannot flower and grow without it.’ (Jess Lair, psychologist)
  • One of the powers you are probably not using to the fullest extent is your magic ability to praise people and inspire them with a realisation of their latent possibilities.

☝️ Praise the slightest improvement and praise every improvement. Be ‘hearty in your approbation and lavish in your praise.’

  • And it might be well to assume and state openly that other people have the virtue you want them to develop. Give them a fine reputation to live up to, and they will make prodigious efforts rather than see you disillusioned.
  • (”Alicia, I hear you draw beautifully.”, “Tommy, it seems like you’re a natural born leader.”) With that reputation to live up to, even a nine-year-old couldn’t let her down—and he didn’t.

☝️ Use encouragement. Make the fault seem easy to correct.

  • Statesmen and diplomats aren’t the only ones who use this make-a-person-happy-to-do-things-you-want-them-to-do-approach.
  • 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.
  • Be empathetic. Ask yourself what is it the other person really wants.

A Shortcut to Distinction

  • The way to develop self-confidence, is to do the thing you fear to do and get a record of successful experiences behind you.

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