A Summary of ‘How To Win Friends and Influence People’

A book by Dale Carnegie, with over 16 million copied sold

Mir Ali Zain
8 min readFeb 21, 2021

NEVER FORGET: People crave the feeling of importance. This idea repeats itself over and over again throughout the book (and throughout this article). Embed this in your mind.

This book covers:

  • Six ways to make people like you
  • Twelve ways to win people to your way of thinking
  • Nine ways to change people without arousing resentment

But before we can get into that, we need to have a look at some of the underlying fundamentals.

  1. Don’t Criticize or Complain — People crave the feeling of importance. Make them feel important, and they’ll like you. Diminish someone’s importance, and they’ll resent you. When faced with criticism, people generally tend to get defensive and rationalize their actions, and these people will continue to justify their actions and resent you. “Criticism is dangerous, because it wounds a person’s precious pride, hurts his sense of importance, and arouses resentment.”
  2. Appreciate People Sincerely — As mentioned before, people crave the feeling of importance and do what they can to make themselves feel so, whether it’s showing off their wealth, social status, or their achievements, and so appreciating people sincerely gives them that feeling of importance, and will make them like you.
  3. Appeal to the Other Person’s Interest — People care more about what they want, more than what you want. Approaching people in a direction that appeals to their self-interest is the only way to get them to do anything; you need to get them to want to do it. When a salesperson tries to sell you a pen, they don’t tell you to buy this pen because it makes them money, they make you buy this pen by showing how it can benefit you.

6 Ways to Make People Like You

  1. Show Genuine Interest in the Person— Showing interest in the person makes them feel wanted and valued. This is a key factor in making them feel important.
  2. Smile — A warm and welcoming smile indicates to the other person that they make you happy and you’re excited to see them. You must be happy to meet someone if you want them to feel happy when they meet you. This makes the person feel appreciated and important.
  3. Say the Person’s Name — A person’s name is their identity, their unique identity, something that can differentiate them from everyone else. Calling someone by something so unique makes them feel special, and yes… it makes them feel important.
  4. Listen Well & Encourage Others to Talk — How to be a good conversationalist: a) Showing genuine interest b) Getting the other person to talk. We’ve already looked at part a, so let’s have a look at part b. Angry people are often angry because they feel unheard, listening to them with patience and acknowledging your mistake (if you made one) can really help them cool down. And don’t always try to one-up your friends, instead let them one-up you by letting them talk about their accomplishments; boasting about your accomplishments can make people feel inferior and envious. Bad conversationalists just talk about themselves, they’re so focused on what they’re saying that they don’t listen to the other person.
  5. Discuss the Other Person’s Interests — You can’t hook a fish with cheesecake as bait, it just doesn’t appeal to their interests. Likewise, people are far more enthusiastic about topics they care about rather than what only you care about. Identify their goals, and show how you can help get them there. Find common ground, and if there isn’t one, then find one of their interests and ask them about it.
  6. Make the Other Person Feel Important — Almost everyone thinks that they’re superior to you in some way. Allow them to subtly realize that you recognize their ‘importance’. This can be done by giving public approval of their work and praising them without expecting anything in return.

12 ways to win people to your way of thinking — Handling Arguments

  1. Avoid Heated Arguments — When a disagreement arises, always try to control your initial response and temper. Take time to understand the situation with a calm mind. Welcome the disagreement and see it as an opportunity to fix a mistake that you may have made, or thank the other person sincerely for their interest, as anyone who takes time to disagree with you is interested in the same things as you are. Think of them as people who really want to help you.
  2. Have a Friendly Approach — Think of this as luring an animal, you don’t go chasing after it, instead, you offer it some food. The energy you radiate reciprocates from other the person. You want to convince the other person that you are their genuine friend.
  3. Respect Their Opinions — During an argument, Don’t attack their opinions as people tend to become defensive, instead approach them with an open-minded view, and make it clear to them that you are open to different viewpoints and understandings, this lowers their defences and allows for them to consider both sides as well, allowing for a bridge to be built.
  4. If You’re Wrong, Admit It — Pretty self-explanatory; this builds trust and integrity as well as showing that you’re willing to learn from your mistakes.
  5. Let the Other Person Talk — A disagreeing person will not pay attention to you while they are crying for their own voice. When you notice a person constantly repeating the same points in an argument, it may be because they feel that their point has not been acknowledged. Avoid interrupting the other person while speaking, every time you do so, they’ll be more receptive to what you have to say.
  6. See Things From Their Perspective — There is a reason why people think the way they do, discover that reason and you’ll have the key to influencing them.
  7. Sympathize With the Other Person — A lot of people are just hungry for sympathy. Pitying them can make them feel important as they are given attention.
  8. Start With What You Agree On — Every time someone says ‘no’, they get locked into defence mode and they hold on to their belief/opinion even tighter, this builds inertia and makes it harder to dislodge them, even if they realise they may be wrong; their pride gets in the way and admitting their fault is difficult for most people. Instead, get the person to start saying ‘yes’ by starting with what you agree on. Guide them towards your conclusion through a series of logical questions instead of pushing your conclusion onto the person. This lets the other person feel as if the idea is theirs, as you’re not pushing it onto them, rather letting them come to it through a series of questions.
  9. Let Them Own Your Idea — People like their own ideas better than other people’s. Coming up with their own idea/conclusion makes them feel smart and important. So instead of pushing your idea onto them, guide them to get to the idea by themselves. If you truly care about outcomes and not credit, then let them take the credit for your ideas.
  10. Appeal to the Best Self — People like to think of themselves as honourable saviours. Rise above the squabble and appeal to their highest moral principles, if they return to the squabble, they’ll look small. For example, when a tenant wanted to break a lease early, instead of the landlord reminding him of the legal consequences, he gave the person a fine reputation to live up to: “I’ve been a landlord for years, and I’ve come to know people. When I first met you, I saw you as a person of your word. I’m so confident of this that I’m willing to take a risk. Think it over. If you still want to break your lease, I’ll accept it as final and learn that I was wrong in my judgement. But I still believe you’re a man of your world and will do the honourable thing.”
  11. Make Your Ideas Vivid — Most people aren’t as rational and data-driven as they think, they are swayed by emotions and make decisions based on their ‘gut feeling’. Simply stating your idea isn’t enough, you have to make it vivid and dramatic. Find a way to visually represent your idea.
  12. Issue a Challenge — When motivation doesn’t work, organize a competition. This indirectly motivates people as they don’t want to lose to anyone, this hurts their pride and feeling of importance.

9 ways to change people without arousing resentment — Giving Feedback

  1. Start with Praise — It’s much easier for people to take criticism after hearing praise, without it, it just sounds unpleasant and critical without any appreciation for the hard work. This is even more effective when the person knows that you are upset with the work, as the praise will come off as a surprise and sincere appreciation, which makes the person more receptive to the feedback.
  2. Point Out Problems Indirectly — Instead of following your praise with a ‘but’, use ‘and’, here’s an example with both: “You’ve done an excellent job working hard, but you could’ve prevented these careless mistakes” vs “You’ve done an excellent job working hard, and if you focus next on building a checklist, you’ll improve your accuracy rate”. By not explicitly calling out the problems, you're avoiding implanting feelings of failure within the person and allowing them to save face.
  3. Point Out Your Own Mistakes — Acknowledging your mistakes shows that you realise the difficulty of the task and that the person’s mistake is understandable. This gives them reassurance that it is possible to do better encourages the person to do so, rather than making them feeling overwhelmed with one-sided feedback.
  4. Ask Questions Instead of Giving Orders — As mentioned before, people have a bias towards their own ideas. By asking questions, it allows the person to come to their own conclusion and stimulates creativity as they’re thinking independently. For example, you can ask: ‘Do you think ____ would work?’ or ‘What do you think of this?’
  5. Preserve the Person’s Pride — Again, people crave importance. Try to protect that feeling of importance as much as you can. Acknowledge that mistakes arise from momentary carelessness or inexperience, and not from a lack of ability.
  6. Create a Reputation to Live Up To — If you want to improve a particular trait about someone, act as if that trait was already one of their best attributes; they will try and live up to that reputation. Being valued for particular traits or their reputation makes them feel important, and they will try to uphold it as much as possible.
  7. Make The Improvement Look Easy — By telling someone that they lack the talent or ability to carry out a task, you are killing their interest and hope at improving. You need to make the steps to improve seem easier to them. You can do this by linking it to something they’ve done really well previously related to the matter, for example, you can say: ‘You did a great job at X, carrying out Y should be easy for you.’
  8. Keep the Person’s Interests in Mind — Constantly ask yourself what this person wants, about their interests and incentives, and link them to your suggestions when proposing an idea — showing how your idea is aligned with their interests as well and how they can benefit.
  9. Praise Every Improvement — Praising every improvement motivates the other person to do better and do more. It’s like training a puppy, we reward it with a treat every time it does something we want it to do and lock in that good behaviour. The same principles apply to humans.

Overall, I thought that this book was an amazing read and would definitely recommend it to everyone as it gives you a different perspective and really shifts your views on human relationships and it’s underlying principles.

Wanna read the full book? Buy it here

👋 Hi, I’m Mir Ali, I’m a 17-year old AI and BCI developer, leveraging emerging technologies to solve real-world problems.

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Mir Ali Zain

17-Year Old AI and BCI enthusiast, Innovator, Researcher, and Developer @ The Knowledge Society (TKS)