How to Win Friends and Influence People

THE classic on interpersonal communication skills. How to Win Friends and Influence People may be dated, but the principles are timeless.

I gave this book a 9/10 simply because the stories used to illustrate Carnegie’s points are incredibly dated, and I feel like he used too many stories to illustrate what could have been conveyed with less.

Most of Dale Carnegie’s advice can be summed up as: Adopt the other person’s perspective.

People are self-interested and want to hear things that bolster their confidence or help them reach their own ends, so align your goals with theirs and explain how you can help them get the things THEY want.

Make your conversation partner feel important.

Make them feel in control.

And guide them to your way of thinking by understanding their way of thinking. This takes an incredible amount of empathy.

Don’t one-up people. It’s annoying. Just ask them more questions, empathize, then ask another question. Pay attention to people and they will think you’re the best conversationalist in the world.

On the other hand, if you only listen for an opportunity to say something, you’re not being a good conversationalist at all.

Listen to listen. Try not to talk so much.

More than taking the perspective of someone else, do everything you can to understand your conversation partner.

What are their goals? Interests? Beliefs? What caused those?

Understand their mood. Understand their motives. Focus on UNDERSTANDING. This creates a sense of curiosity and empathy, and it also makes them feel truly heard.

Get your partner saying “yes” as much as possible, as early as possible. This creates inertia.

If you can keep the conversation moving in a positive direction toward a goal, then you facilitate growth.

This is also true when providing criticism. Point out something positive in your feedback, followed by an “and.” Avoid the word “but” — anything you say before the word “but” doesn’t count, anyway.

An example: “Great job on rendering around the eyes, that’s a great way to establish a focal point. And if you focus on your color theory in the future, it will make your compositions read much more strongly.

Criticism is toxic. It causes resentment, can damage a person’s confidence, and can instill limiting beliefs in the people you’re trying to “correct.”

Criticism almost always does more harm than good.

Appreciation, on the other hand, tends to fuel more of the appreciated behavior. We’re animals at the root of it all, and animals learn best through positive reinforcement.

Avoid criticism if you want to avoid making enemies, and shower appreciation everywhere you go if you want people to spiral up, enjoy being around you, and win friends wherever you go.

To be most effective: be very specific with praise, and only praise behavior that you want to increase. Be very general with criticism — and if you MUST criticize, criticize the outcome, not the person.

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