Book Review — How To Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie

The classic HTWF&IP by Dale Carnegie was an interesting read. A lot of the suggestions are pretty timeless and obvious advice along the lines of, actually be interested in what the person you’re talking to is saying, offer compliments when appropriate, make sure to be sincere when doing so, do your best to be pleasant company. Like most self-improvement works, the author often relies on the wisdom of the ancients and you’ll come across quotes from western philosophers and a couple Lao Tzu references, along with a bevy of 19th & 20th century political and business giants.

There are a couple insightful psychological points when it comes to trying to change someone’s mind, like always try to get a couple ‘yeses’ from the person you’re trying to convince before your contentious point to increase the odds they’ll agree, and to make your presentation a little more dramatic since our minds are most accustomed to storytelling as a mode of understanding.

While a lot of the anecdotes feel dated and some of the social etiquette doesn’t seem to apply anymore in this, the age of post truth and the death of outrage, the book is still a good read if not a little long winded. Here are some of my favorite quotes along with the basic key points he makes throughout the book:

 

IN A NUSTHELL SIX WAYS TO MAKE PEOPLE LIKE YOU

  1. Become genuinely interested in other people.
  2. Smile.
  3. Remember that a person’s name is to that person the sweetest and most important sound in any language.
  4. Be a good listener. Encourage others to talk about themselves.
  5. Talk in terms of the other person’s interests.
  6. Make the other person feel important—and do it sincerely.

IN A NUTSHELL WIN PEOPLE TO YOUR WAY OF THINKING

  1. The only way to get the best of an argument is to avoid it.
  2. Show respect for the other person’s opinions. Never say, “You’re wrong.”
  3. If you are wrong, admit it quickly and emphatically.
  4. Begin in a friendly way.
  5. Get the other person saying “yes, yes” immediately.
  6. Let the other person do a great deal of the talking
  7. Let the other person feel that the idea is his or hers
  8. Try honestly to see things from the other person’s point of view.
  9. Be sympathetic with the other person’s ideas and desires.
  10. Appeal to the nobler motives.
  11. Dramatize your ideas.
  12. Throw down a challenge.

On understanding over condemnation:

Instead of condemning people, let’s try to understand them. Let’s try to figure out why they do what they do. That’s a lot more profitable and intriguing than criticism; and it breeds sympathy, tolerance and kindness. “To know all is to forgive all.”

Carnegie’s Tombstone:

Carnegie wanted to praise his assistants even on his tombstone. He wrote an epitaph for himself which read: “Here lies one who knew how to get around him men who were cleverer than himself.”

On the power of the mind:

Thought is supreme. Preserve a right mental attitude—the attitude of courage, frankness, and good cheer. To think rightly is to create.

On appeals to the logos:

Few people are logical. Most of us are prejudiced and biased. Most of us are blighted with preconceived notions, with jealousy, suspicion, fear, envy and pride. And most citizens don’t want to change their minds about their religion or their haircut or communism or their favorite movie star.

On treading softly:

The Chinese have a proverb pregnant with the age-old wisdom of the Orient: “He who treads softly goes far.”

On the importance of asking “why?”:

[…] 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?”

J. P. Morgan on motivation:

J. Pierpont Morgan observed, in one of his analytical interludes, that a person usually has two reasons for doing a thing: one that sounds good and a real one.