A Must-Read for New Entrepreneurs: How to Win Friends & Influence People

When running a business, you need people on your side. You need people to like you if you're going to get funding, win business, and recruit the right talent to help you grow. People skills are a must. Carnegie's "How to Win Friends & Influence People" offers timeless advice that will help you show your value in a way that resonates.

“How to Win Friends and Influence People” by Dale Carnegie is a timeless self-help book that offers practical advice on improving interpersonal relationships, communication, and leadership skills. Originally published in 1936, the book’s principles remain relevant today and are widely regarded as a guide to achieving personal and professional success.

In this summary, we’ll cover the key principles and concepts from the book, focusing on the four main sections: Fundamental Techniques in Handling People, Six Ways to Make People Like You, How to Win People to Your Way of Thinking, and Be a Leader: How to Change People Without Offending or Arousing Resentment.


Fundamental Techniques in Handling People:

  1. Don’t Criticize, Condemn, or Complain: Carnegie emphasizes that criticizing, condemning, or complaining about others is counterproductive. Instead, it breeds resentment and defensiveness. To build positive relationships, avoid these behaviors and focus on constructive communication.
  2. Give Honest and Sincere Appreciation: People crave recognition and appreciation. Carnegie suggests that offering genuine compliments and recognition can go a long way in winning people over. Make your praise specific and heartfelt.
  3. Arouse in the Other Person an Eager Want: To influence others, you must understand their desires and motivations. Show genuine interest in their needs and wants, and tailor your communication to appeal to those interests.


Six Ways to Make People Like You:

  1. Become Genuinely Interested in Other People: Show a sincere interest in others’ lives, opinions, and experiences. Ask questions and listen actively, making the other person feel valued and important.
  2. Smile: A simple smile can make a significant difference in how others perceive you. It conveys warmth and approachability, making people more receptive to your presence.
  3. Remember That a Person’s Name Is, to That Person, the Sweetest Sound in Any Language: People appreciate it when you remember their names. Make an effort to learn and use names in your conversations; it demonstrates respect and consideration.
  4. Be a Good Listener. Encourage Others to Talk About Themselves: People love to talk about themselves and their interests. Encourage them to do so by asking open-ended questions and showing genuine curiosity.
  5. Talk in Terms of the Other Person’s Interest: Tailor your conversations to align with the interests and concerns of the person you’re speaking to. This makes the interaction more engaging and enjoyable for them.
  6. Make the Other Person Feel Important—and Do It Sincerely: Show genuine appreciation and respect for others. Make them feel valued and important by acknowledging their achievements, opinions, and contributions.


How to Win People to Your Way of Thinking:

  1. The Only Way to Get the Best of an Argument Is to Avoid It: Carnegie advises against engaging in arguments, as they rarely lead to productive outcomes. Instead, aim to find common ground and seek solutions that benefit both parties.
  2. Show Respect for the Other Person’s Opinions. Never Say, “You’re Wrong”: People are more likely to be open to your perspective if you respect theirs. Avoid outright dismissal of their ideas, and instead, express your views diplomatically.
  3. If You’re Wrong, Admit It Quickly and Emphatically: Accepting your mistakes and admitting when you are wrong builds trust and credibility. It also encourages others to do the same, fostering a more open and honest environment.
  4. Begin in a Friendly Way: Start conversations and interactions on a positive note. A friendly and approachable demeanor can set the tone for a constructive exchange.
  5. Get the Other Person Saying “Yes, Yes” Immediately: Encourage agreement by asking questions that lead to affirmative responses. Starting with small affirmations paves the way for more significant agreements later on.
  6. Let the Other Person Feel That the Idea Is Theirs: People are more invested in ideas they feel they’ve contributed to. Present your ideas in a way that allows others to take ownership and feel a sense of accomplishment.
  7. Try Honestly to See Things from the Other Person’s Point of View: Empathy is crucial in understanding and influencing others. Put yourself in their shoes and consider their perspective and motivations.
  8. Be Sympathetic with the Other Person’s Ideas and Desires: Show empathy and understanding toward others’ ideas and desires, even if they differ from your own. This fosters a sense of goodwill and cooperation.
  9. Appeal to the Nobler Motives: Encourage others to act based on their values and higher principles. Appeal to their sense of duty, morality, and integrity.
  10. Dramatize Your Ideas: Use storytelling and vivid examples to make your ideas more compelling and memorable. Engage people emotionally by illustrating the benefits of your proposals.
  11. Throw Down a Challenge: Inspire others by presenting challenges and opportunities for growth. People often rise to the occasion when faced with a meaningful challenge.


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

  1. Begin with Praise and Honest Appreciation: When you need to address issues or changes, start by acknowledging the person’s positive qualities and contributions. This softens resistance.
  2. Call Attention to People’s Mistakes Indirectly: Instead of criticizing directly, use constructive feedback to highlight areas for improvement. This approach is less likely to cause defensiveness.
  3. Talk About Your Own Mistakes Before Criticizing the Other Person: Sharing your own mistakes and lessons learned makes you more relatable and less judgmental.
  4. Ask Questions Instead of Giving Direct Orders: Encourage cooperation and active participation by asking questions rather than giving orders. This approach promotes engagement and problem-solving.
  5. Let the Other Person Save Face: Avoid humiliating or embarrassing others, even when addressing their mistakes. Find ways to resolve issues privately and preserve their dignity.
  6. Praise the Slightest Improvement and Praise Every Improvement: Acknowledge and reward progress, no matter how small. Positive reinforcement encourages continued effort.
  7. Give the Other Person a Fine Reputation to Live Up To: Inspire people to meet your expectations by having high regard for their potential and abilities.
  8. Use Encouragement. Make the Fault Seem Easy to Correct: Provide encouragement and support when addressing problems or challenges. Make the path to improvement seem achievable.
  9. Make the Other Person Happy About Doing the Thing You Suggest: Connect tasks and actions to positive outcomes and benefits, making people eager to comply with your suggestions.


In summary, “How to Win Friends and Influence People” by Dale Carnegie offers a comprehensive guide to building better relationships, improving communication, and becoming an effective leader.

The book’s principles revolve around empathy, respect, and understanding, emphasizing the importance of putting others first and appealing to their desires and motivations.

By applying these principles, you can enhance their personal and professional lives, becoming more likeable, persuasive, and influential. While some of the examples in the book are dated, Carnegie’s timeless wisdom continues to resonate with people seeking to improve their social and leadership skills, making this book a classic in the field of personal development.

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Sarah Gencarelli

Sarah’s an awarded brand strategist, copywriter, instructor, and entrepreneur. Sarah works closely with founders and marketing teams to clarify and amplify brand stories.

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