The only way on earth to influence other people is to talk about what they want and show them how to get it.
— Dale Carnegie
The Book that Changed the World
Dale Carnegie once wrote a book on How to Win Friends and Influence People. This book is often listed as one of the most influential books of all time. Some say that it spawned the multi-billion dollar personal development industry we know today; that it transformed how we relate to others and changed the game of professional relationship building.
If you question the impact that Dale Carnegie’s book has had on millions of individuals and groups around the world, then simply conduct a Google search and you will discover firsthand the widespread popularity and impact that How to Win Friends and Influence People has had on the world.
For the purpose of our discussion today, I will merely and briefly outline the main concepts and elements discussed within How to Win Friends and Influence People. This by no means does justice to the text, and by no means should it replace the book. Instead, the article and accompanying mind map should be used as a reference guide that helps overview the masterpiece written by Dale Carnegie in 1936.
So without further delay, let us begin our overview of the book.
Three-fourths of the people you will ever meet are hungering and thirsting for sympathy. Give it to them, and they will love you. — Dale Carnegie
How to Handle People
- Don’t criticize, condemn or complain.
- Arouse in people an eager want.
- Give honest and sincere appreciation.
Don’t Criticize, Condemn or Complain
One of the primary areas that Dale Carnegie focuses on is our ability to handle people effectively under different conditions and circumstances. He points out that we must never criticize, condemn or complain. The moment we indulge in these destructive verbal habits, is the moment we begin to lose the trust and respect of others.
Nobody likes to be criticized or condemned for doing or not doing something — and as much as we might not like to admit it, when we hear others complaining we often roll our eyes the other way.
Criticism is futile because it puts a man on the defensive, and usually makes him strive to justify himself. Criticism is dangerous, because it wounds a man’s precious pride, hurts his sense of importance, and arouses his resentment. — Dale Carnegie
Arouse an Eager Want
In order to influence people to our way of thinking Dale Carnegie points out that we must arouse in them an eager want. In other words, we must determine what motivates and inspires them to take action or make a specific decision, and then focus our efforts on bringing these things to the surface.
For obvious reasons, it’s difficult to imagine that we could consistently build strong relationships with people by complaining and criticizing them whenever they don’t agree with our point-of-view. However, when we arouse within them an eager “want”, and focus on the things that will help motivate them to take action, then at that moment the game changes and we begin to gain influence over their decisions and actions.
Looking at the other person’s point of view and arousing in him an eager want for something is not to be construed as manipulating that person so that he will do something that is only for your benefit and his detriment. Each party should gain from the negotiation. — Dale Carnegie
Give Honest and Sincere Appreciation
Give the other person consistent honest and sincere appreciation for their efforts, time, energy and skills — even for the smallest of things.
When others feel that they are appreciated long-term, they exude a different zest for life. This new found motivation subsequently moves them to take action and helps us to better influence their choices and decisions. However, keep in mind that there is a difference between honest and sincere appreciation and downright flattery.
The difference between appreciation and flattery? That is simple. One is sincere and the other insincere. One comes from the heart out; the other from the teeth out. One is unselfish; the other selfish. One is universally admired; the other universally condemned. — Dale Carnegie
Making People Like You
- Remember to smile.
- Use the person’s name often.
- Listen well and encourage people to speak first and often.
- Become genuinely interested in people.
- Always make people feel important.
- Always talk about people’s interests.
It’s difficult to build strong bonds and relationships with people long-term if they simply don’t like you. Sometimes people get off on the wrong foot and can’t get along, while at other times they tend to click the instant they meet. Why is that? How does this work? Dale Carnegie has a few answers.
Remember to Smile
First of all Dale Carnegie points out that a smile can win over just about anyone’s heart. When we smile we will often receive smiles in return because others see us as being friendly and approachable. Likewise, a sincere smile can also help us gain the trust of others. It is in essence the first step towards personal influence.
I am talking about a real smile, a heartwarming smile, a smile that comes from within, the kind of smile that will bring a good price in the marketplace. — Dale Carnegie
Use a Person’s Name Often
Another important component Dale Carnegie discusses that helps us build a sense of trust and respect while conversing with others, is our willingness to use the other person’s name during conversation.
Have you ever been within a room full of people absorbed in a one-to-one conversation, when suddenly you hear someone from the other side of the room faintly call your name. Immediately your attention leaves the conversation and instead focuses on the name you think you heard. The reason this happens is because your name is your calling-cards. It’s an “attention grabber” that focuses you on what’s most important.
Dale Carnegie points out that we should use another person’s names throughout our interactions with them on a consistent basis. However, it’s also important to remember not to overdo a good thing.
Remember that a person’s name is to that person the sweetest and most important sound in any language. — Dale Carnegie
Jim Farley discovered early in life that the average person is more interested in his or her own name than in all the other names on earth put together. Remember that name and call it easily, and you have paid a subtle and very effective compliment. But forget it or misspell it — and you have placed yourself at a sharp disadvantage. — Dale Carnegie
Become Genuinely Interested in Other People
It is said that the person listening and asking the questions controls the conversation. In fact, Dale Carnegie points out that by simply listening, by asking questions and encouraging the other person to speak, that he could within a very short period of time gain their trust and respect.
Dale Carnegie also points out that the key to listening is derived from our genuine show-of interest in the lives of other people. This is important, because if you come across as being insincere during conversation, then the other person will pick this up, and you will therefore lose favor in their eyes.
I have discovered from personal experience that one can win the attention and time and cooperation of even the most sought-after people by becoming genuinely interested in them. — Dale Carnegie
Always Make People Feel Important
Another way to improve your “likeability factor” is to make people feel important. Dale Carnegie points out that you can do this very easily by talking about people’s interests, then congratulating them on their accomplishments, successes and victories. You can even make another person feel important when they talk about their problems and concerns. Simply help shift their perspective and encourage them to see that their failures are at the same time their greatest opportunities for success.
When you make a person feel important, a wave of confidence floods over their entire body and as a result your “likeability factor” increases.
In reality, what he had really wanted was a feeling of importance. He got this feeling of importance at first by kicking and complaining. But as soon as he got his feeling of importance from a representative of the company, his imagined grievances vanished into thin air. — Dale Carnegie
Winning People Over
- Allow people to feel that ideas and suggestions are theirs.
- Get people saying Yes, Yes and Yes immediately and by asking questions.
- Begin in a friendly way.
- See things from people’s point of view.
- Admit when you are wrong quickly and emphatically.
- Dramatize your ideas.
- Avoid arguments and telling a person when they are wrong.
- Avoid talking negatively when people are absent.
Winning others over to our way of thinking isn’t about persuasion. It’s rather about subtle influence that arouses in the other person certain feelings that naturally allow them to be influenced by what we do or say.
See Things from People’s Point of View
Influence often begins when we start seeing things from the other person’s point of view. Many times we can become so absorbed in our own opinions, beliefs, values, attitudes and perspectives that we fail to see through the fog of our own thinking. We interpret what others are saying based on our own psychology and patterns of conditioning. As a result we fail to really understand the other person.
To avoid this trap, we must begin seeing things from the other person’s point of view; we must step into their shoes and understand the situation from their perspective. Only then can we begin to build long-term rapport.
Tomorrow, before asking anyone to put out a fire or buy your product or contribute to your favorite charity, why not pause and close your eyes and try to think the whole thing through from another person’s point of view? Ask yourself: “Why should he or she want to do it?” — Dale Carnegie
Admit When You Are Wrong
We are all human, and as human beings we tend to make mistakes. Nobody is perfect, and as a result we tend to distrust those who seem a little too good to be true. This likewise affects how we view others and how much of our trust we give them. On the other hand when we see people being real, making mistakes and learning from those mistakes, we tend to appreciate their transparency and this helps us relate to them on a deeper level. We must therefore occasionally take time to admit our mistakes and point out to others the lessons we have learned as a result of these errors.
An argument would have begun to steam and boil and sputter — and you know how arguments end. Even if I had convinced him that he was wrong, his pride would have made it difficult for him to back down and give in. — Dale Carnegie
Avoid Arguments at all Costs
One thing I have learned over time is that arguing with another person rarely (if ever) leads to positive relations. After an argument there is always some remorse and some tension on both sides of the fence — even when people have forgiven each other.
It is said that the weak man chooses to argue, while the wise man chooses instead to find common ground. This “common ground” is what builds the foundations for agreement.
Could my opponents be right? Partly right? Is there truth or merit in their position or argument? Is my reaction one that will relieve the problem, or will it just relieve any frustration? Will my reaction drive my opponents further away or draw them closer to me? — Dale Carnegie
Don’t Tell People that they are Wrong
When trying to relate to someone it’s important to be aware of resistance triggers. These are things that you say or do that automatically make another person feel uncomfortable within your presence. One of these triggers is telling someone that they are wrong. This immediately puts the person on the defensive and destroys any rapport you may have built over time.
We must realize that everyone makes mistakes. Therefore should it be our responsibility to point these mistakes out? How will that affect our relationship with them? Is their opinion worth challenging? Or is it irrelevant and unnecessary? These are questions we must continuously keep at the forefront of our minds while conversing with others.
You can tell people they are wrong by a look or an intonation or a gesture just as eloquently as you can in words — and if you tell them they are wrong, do you make them want to agree with you? Never! For you have struck a direct blow at their intelligence, judgment, pride and self-respect. That will make them want to strike back. But it will never make them want to change their minds. You may then hurl at them all the logic of a Plato or an Immanuel Kant, but you will not alter their opinions, for you have hurt their feelings. — Dale Carnegie
Get the Other Person Saying “Yes”
Finally, one of the sneaky techniques that Dale Carnegie brought up in his book How to Win Friends and Influence People is to begin a conversation in a friendly way and then get the other person saying yes… yes… yes… immediately by asking questions. By getting a person into a positive frame of mind helps to build long-term rapport, trust and agreement.
Get the other person saying “Yes, yes” at the outset. Keep your opponent, if possible, from saying “No.” A “No” response, according to Professor Overstreet, is a most difficult handicap to overcome. When you have said “No,” all your pride of personality demands that you remain consistent with yourself. — Dale Carnegie
Becoming a Leader
- Talk about personal mistakes first before criticizing others.
- Begin with praise and honest appreciation.
- Call attention to people’s mistakes indirectly.
- Allow people to save face.
- Avoid giving direct orders, and instead ask questions when delegating.
- Give people a fine reputation to live up to.
- Use encouragement whenever possible.
- Praise the slightest improvement and every improvement people make.
- Make people’s faults seem easy to correct.
- Make people happy to do as you ask.
How to Win Friends and Influence People is not only about building relationships, it’s also very much about being an effective leader of people. This type of leadership stems from our ability to gain the trust and respect of those who follow us. This naturally begins when we start applying everything discussed thus far within this article.
Do Not Give Direct Orders — Ask Questions Instead
One of the core fundamental techniques that I give a lot of attention to as a life skills coach is the process of asking effective questions.
Knowing how to ask effective questions is as important to life coaching as it is to our interactions with other people. In fact, Dale Carnegie points out that while delegating we must not give direct orders, but instead ask questions that will help encourage others to do as we ask.
Carefully crafted questions will help the person see the importance of the task at hand, and will encourage them to take action and responsibility for their assignment.
Asking questions not only makes an order more palatable; it often stimulates the creativity of the persons whom you ask. People are more likely to accept an order if they have had a part in the decision that caused the order to be issued. — Dale Carnegie
Give People a Fine Reputation to Live Up to
Another important element that Dale Carnegie discusses is to give people a fine reputation to live up to. This becomes critical when we hear that people tend to live up to the expectations of others. Therefore when we raise our expectations of those who follow us, we tend to also raise their level of confidence in themselves and their own abilities, which subsequently tends to improve their results, effectiveness and efficiency throughout the day.
Praise the Slightest Improvement
Finally, Dale Carnegie mentions that it’s important to give the other person feedback about the improvements they’ve made over time — no matter how small or insignificant they seem on the surface. Yes, they might have made mistakes along the way, however as a leader you show people that their weaknesses and errors are actually only temporary and easy to correct in the long-run. Better yet, talk about your own mistakes and inadequacies first, and show them that even people in positions of power aren’t perfect. This helps build rapport and trust while showing the other person that errors of judgment can be easily corrected if we learn from our circumstances.
In short, if you want to improve a person in a certain spect, act as though that particular trait were already one of his or her outstanding characteristics. [...] 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. — Dale Carnegie
I could easily keep discussing each point in detail, however nobody says it better than Dale Carnegie himself. I therefore encourage you to either read How to Win Friends and Influence People book or listen to the audio version (the narrator’s voice in the audio version is mesmerizing). Either way I am confident that you will be pleasantly surprised and encouraged by the stories, techniques and the positive message behind the words.
For more information about influence and persuasion, please read the following three articles:
Finally, here is a great resource that delves into more detail on How to Win Friends and Influence People. They provide a point-form summary of the entire book.
I hope you enjoyed this article and mind map. Please share your comments and feedback, and by all means please feel free to share the mind map with others.
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