How to Win Friends and Influence People (recommended read)

September 18, 2016 8 min read

How to Win Friends and Influence People (recommended read)

Dale Carnegie published How To Win Friends and Influence People in 1936 yet the lessons it contains are extremely relevant and valuable 75 years later. This book is essential reading for anyone in a sales or marketing role and will help solidify both business and personal relationships. Essentially, this book spells out a plan for getting what you want from other people by changing the way you behave.

What You Will Learn

In this summary, you will learn:

  1. Why listening to what other people are saying is more important than talking about yourself.
  2. How positive reinforcement is the best way to motivate others.
  3. Techniques that you can use to make other people believe what you are telling them.
  4. How to be a better leader.

Fundamental Techniques in Handling People

To get the most out of this book, you’ll need to constantly remind yourself about how important these principles are, review them, and think about how to apply them. Apply them whenever you can and even ask a spouse or business associate to remind you when you violate one of these principles. As you practice, review your progress and keep notes showing when you have used these methods. In doing so, you’ll be creating your own business “field report” that will help you hone your influencing skills.

The first basic principle of handling people is being nice. Don’t criticize, condemn, or complain about people. Instead of judging people or condemning them, try to understand them and why they do what they do. This way, you can better show support, sympathy, tolerance, and kindness. People like others who treat them this way and will respond positively to such an approach. You may need to exercise control to hold back from expressing your negative feelings, but do so. In fact, if you have the desire to change others, it’s better to begin with yourself.

The second principle is recognizing what others want and giving it to them. There are many things that people want. Some of the most common include health and the preservation of life, food, sleep, money and the things money will buy, sexual gratification, the well-being of our family, and a feeling of importance. Most of these wants are usually fulfilled, except the desire to feel important and that is a very strong basic desire. It’s the desire that motivates people to want to be fashionable, drive nice cars, and seek success. The way to understand a person’s basic character is to know what creates a feeling of importance for them. Once you know that key, you can make that person feel important. At the same time, avoid saying or doing things that undermine feelings of importance. For example, if you have someone working for you, use incentives rather than criticism to motivate him or her. Nothing else kills the ambitions of a person like the criticisms from superiors. Praise where you can and be hesitant to find fault. However, avoid insincere flattery, since that doesn’t work well either. Generally, people will see it as shallow and selfish. The key is to give honest and sincere appreciation.

The third principle is to arouse an eager want in others. This principle works because we are all interested in getting what we want. So if you want influence over other people, find out what others want and how you can help them get it. In doing so, it helps to understand the other person’s point of view and see things from their perspective as well as your own.

Six Ways to Make People like You

There are six basic rules for getting people to like you. The underlying principle is to pay attention to others and show you are concerned.

The first rule is to become genuinely interested in other people. By doing so, you can gain the attention of others and secure their cooperation again and again. By showing this interest in others as a manager, you can develop loyalty to your company as well, since people see you as a representative of your company.

The second rule is to make a good first impression by smiling. This smile is important, since actions speak louder than words, and a smile helps to show that you like the person. It shows you are glad to see him and want to be friendly. Of course, this smile shouldn’t be an insincere grin, which looks mechanical and people resent it. But a smile that comes from within will help attract people to you.

The third rule is to remember the person’s name. A good way to do this is to fix the person’s name and some facts about his or her family, business, or interests firmly in mind when you meet. Then, when you see that person again, you will remember it. Having this recall is critical because people value their names highly, as reflected in the way that many companies are named after their founders or the way that donors give large bequests to organizations that name libraries, museums, or other buildings after them.

The fourth rule is to be a good listener and encourage others to talk about themselves. It is especially flattering to pay exclusive attention to the person who is speaking to you rather than looking around to see who else might be there. Listening is also very important for someone to provide proper customer service. For example, if someone comes to complain, just listening attentively can help to diffuse that person’s anger. It may even make the person’s grievances disappear.

The fifth rule is to talk in a way that interests others. Talk about what they care about.

The sixth and final rule says to find a sincere way to make others feel important. For example, ask yourself what you honestly admire about the other person. Remember that the psychologist William James said that, “the deepest principle in human nature is the craving to be appreciated.” By showing your appreciation for another person; you help nurture their feelings of self-importance. It is very important to be sincere when you show your appreciation so your compliments don’t come across as insincere flattery.

Win People to Your Way of Thinking

There are 12 techniques addressed for convincing other people to believe what you are telling them. Consciously try to apply each of the following methods in your conversations:

  1. Avoid arguments, since this is the only way to win an argument. Generally, arguments only make others defensive, and if a person feels he has lost an argument, he loses face. Once you get drawn into an argument, you can’t win, because if you lose it, you lose it, and if you win it, you lose it.
  2. Show respect for the other people’s opinions. You don’t want to make people think you disagree with them with careless words, looks, intonations or gestures. When you challenge other people’s opinions, you make them want to strike back, not change their mind.
  3. Admit when you are wrong. If you make a mistake, acknowledge it quickly. Making such an admission is especially helpful when you know that the other person is thinking or wants to say that you are wrong. It is much easier to listen to self-criticism than criticism from others, and generally when you admit a mistake, the other person is more likely to be forgiving and supportive. When you don’t, they are apt to be more critical.
  4. Even if you are angry, begin discussions in a friendly manner. Use sugar to make the medicine go down. You can’t win over someone who is feeling negative towards you. But if you begin to soothe that person’s feeling, you can start to persuade them to your point of view.
  5. Get the other person to say “yes” in the beginning. Once you get a “no” response, you have a handicap to overcome, since the person you’re talking to wants to remain consistent. Thus, it helps to start off with questions that will evoke a “yes” or a statement that will bring about agreement. Once the person is in the habit of saying yes, you can ask the harder questions.
  6. In the case of complaints, let the other person do the talking. As they do, you will learn more about their business and problems so you will be in a better position to help. The key is to listen patiently with an open mind, be sincere, and encourage the other person to express his ideas fully.
  7. If you are seeking cooperation, let the other person feel the idea is theirs. People have more faith in the ideas that they discover for themselves.
  8. See things from the other person’s point of view. The technique here is to put yourself in the other person’s place, so you can better understand what he wants and needs. This can be especially helpful if you are trying to sell someone a product or service. This exercise will help you understand what motivates the other person.
  9. Show your sympathy to what the other person thinks or wants. This way, even if you disagree or would do something differently, you show that you understand and empathize. Say something like: “I don’t blame you at all feeling the way you do. If I were you I would probably feel the same.
  10. Appeal to people’s higher aspirations and nobler motives. People usually have two reasons for doing something: the real reason and one that sounds good. Since people are idealists at heart and like to think they are led to act out of good motives, you will have better luck in changing people by appealing to these better motives.
  11. Express your ideas in a dramatic way. By dramatizing your ideas you make them more powerful and persuasive. Use strong illustrations and showmanship to get your ideas across. This approach works well because merely stating a truth isn’t enough. The truth has to be made vivid.
  12. Use a challenge to motivate others. This technique works because every successful person loves the chance to prove his or her worth. For example, the industrialist Charles Schwab once drew a big “6” on the floor of a mill to mark down how many items the day shift made. The next day when the night shift came in, they drew a “7” on the floor to show they had done even better. That inspired the day shift to work even harder and place a “10” on the floor when they left. By expressing what he wanted, Schwab encouraged the men to work harder. This tactic was more effective than if he had just asked for improved work.

Be a Leader

Finally, if you are in a leadership position, there are some techniques that you can use to get people to change without offending them or creating resentment. The eight most important leadership principles are the following:

  1. If you have to find fault with someone, start with praise and honest appreciation.
  2. If someone makes a mistake, call attention to his mistakes indirectly.
  3. Before criticizing someone else, talk about your own mistakes first.
  4. Instead of giving a direct order, ask questions, such as “What do you think of this?”
  5. Praise every improvement, no matter how slight.
  6. Give the other person a fine reputation to live up to.
  7. Use encouragement and make the fault seem easy to correct.
  8. Make the other person happy about doing the things you suggest.

Summary of Key Takeaways:

At an absolute minimum, be aware of the following takeaways: It may be useful to post these in a location where you will see them daily.

  • Be genuinely interested in other people.
  • Don’t criticize, condemn or complain about people.
  • Encourage others to talk about themselves.
  • If you make a mistake, acknowledge it quickly.
  • Before criticizing someone else, talk about your own mistakes first.
  • Praise all improvements, no matter how slight.
  • If you want to change others, start with yourself first.
  • To feel important is one of the strongest human desires. Always make others feel important and never undermine anyone’s sense of importance.
  • Remember people’s names. A person’s name is the sweetest and most important sound in any language.
  • Express your ideas in a dramatic way. Use illustrations and showmanship to get your ideas across.

How To Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie

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