How to Win Friends and Influence People

December 14, 2015

Despite having been published nearly 80 years ago, How to Win Friends & Influence People is still regarded as one of the most popular and influential books on creating success in business and personal life. I avoided the book for many years, disliking the corny, funny title. This was a real mistake – I missed out on some wonderful ‘plain language’, timeless wisdom.

The title is pretty self-explanatory – it is what it says on the box.  Dale Carnegie’s central proposition is that by engaging with a person’s ideals, you can befriend almost anyone you encounter.

There are four sections in How to Win Friends & Influence People:

  • Fundamental Techniques in Handling People
  • Six Ways to Make People Like You
  • How to Win People to Your Way of Thinking
  • How to Change People Without Giving Offense or Arousing Resentment

Carnegie uses quotations, anecdotes and examples from historical figures to illustrate 30 principles of human behaviour. He also provides an insight into what happens when these principles are ignored. Key principles include:

  • Don’t criticise, condemn or complain.
  • Become genuinely interested in other people.
  • Give honest and sincere appreciation.
  • Let the other person save face.
  • Try honestly to see things from the other person’s point of view.
  • Become genuinely interested in other people.
  • Let the other person do a great deal of the talking.
  • If you are wrong, admit it quickly and emphatically.

The principles are essentially timeliness – being interested in others and giving honest and sincere appreciation is just as relevant today as it was when the book was first published in 1931.

Although obviously written in a different time, the author’s style is energetic and informal.  At times it almost sounds like he is having a relaxed conversation with you or telling a story. Given that How to Win Friends & Influence People was originally intended as a text to support Carnegie’s classes aimed a professional sales people, the techniques described are most relevant to a sales or public relations context.

So, if you can get over the schmoozy title, How to Win Friends & Influence People has a set of simple and easy to read messages that can help you be more of a ‘people person’ by looking outwards rather than inwards when dealing with others. Really, people are still people and their motivation to be liked is unchanged which is what makes this work so timeless.

Should you get the revised or the original version?  Some people like the classic prose and the quaint examples of the first printing.  Others find it patronising and too oriented towards businessmen (well, few women were in the workplace at this time). Readers have said they like the updated, modern examples of the principles.  For some, the revised version comes across as a hodge podge of old and new.  So, as always, your mileage may vary.  If you’re undecided, maybe preview a sample of each on Amazon to see which one resonates.

Wrap Up



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