How to Win Friends and Influence People: Chapter by Chapter Review of Dale Carnegie’s Best Book

Carnegie’s work is masterpiece of self-help and persuasive writing.  This book is short – and I highly recommend reading it directly if this summary and review piques your curiosity.  His story telling and educational skills are so great that he bends the rules of conventional authorship, making it a little tougher – and therefore more rewarding – to do a pure chapter-by-chapter review.

Preface & Pre-amble

0a. How this Book Was Written and Why?

Pages 9 – 16

“The sole purpose of this book is to help you discover, develop and profit by those dormant and unused assets.” Page 15

If the reader isn’t interested in this message – then the book is not a fit.  If you aren’t bought in to the value of these lessons and rules after the first chapter, then put it down and come back when you’re in the right frame of mind.

0b. Nine Suggestions on How to Get the Most out of This Book

Pages 17 – 22

“So, if you desire to master the principles you are studying in this book, do something about them.” Page 20

In grad school (2003 – 2005) – and I’ve always found this story a little embarrassing – I made a summary of these rules and would write it down every day.  Part of my success in leading diverse global teams is that the rules work – but to work you must remember them.  I’m writing this summary now – and did all the chapter by chapter work – as part of re-committing to these lessons, and also thinking about how to codify some of the other leadership and people lessons I’ve learned.   Carnegie is a master – my goal here is to help expose people to just how good the book is.

In one of our moves I must have gotten rid of the notebook that I’d filled with all of those hand written pages recounting the rules.  It’s important to move on and not hold too tight to the past – I think fondly of that personal lesson and the impact it has had on my life.

Part One: Fundamental Techniques in Handling People

01.1.1 If You Want to Gather Honey, Don’t Kick Over the Behive (Carnegie Video Short: Don’t Criticize or Complain)

Pages 25 – 40.

PRINCIPLE 1 Don’t criticize, condemn or complain.

“Don’t criticize them; they are just what we would be under similar circumstances.” Abraham Lincoln Page 25

Lincoln is a favorite of Carnegie’s – he wrote a completely separate book just detailing the president’s life.

02.1.2 The Big Secret of Dealing with People

Pages 41 – 55.

PRINCIPLE 2 Give honest and sincere appreciation.

Lincoln once began a letter saying: “Everybody likes a compliment.” Page 42.

03.1.3 He Who Can do This Has the Whole World with Him, He who Cannot Walks a Lonely Way

Pages 56 – 73.

PRINCIPLE 3 Arouse in the other person an eager want.

“So the only way on earth to influence other people is to talk about what they want and show them how to get it.” Page 55

Carnegie uses a poorly written mailer as an example of how companies fail when they focus on what they want, rather than what the customer wants.  He reproduces the mailer – along with his humorous feedback.  His point below has stuck with me:

“[Who cares what your company desires?]” Page 61

Part Two: Six Ways to Make People Like You

04.2.1 Do This and You’ll be Welcome Anywhere, Pages 77 – 90

PRINCIPLE 1 Become genuinely interested in other people.

“I love my audience. I love my audience.” Pg. 80

05.2.2 A Simple Way to Make Good First Impression, Pg. 91 – 99 (Carnegie Video Shorts, Smile!)


Professor James V. McConnell, a psychologist at the University of Michigan, expressed his feelings about a smile. “People who smile,” he said, “tend to manage, teach and sell more effectively, and to raise happier children.”

06.2.3 If you Don’t do this You’re Heading for Trouble

Pages 100 – 108

PRINCIPLE 3 Remember that a person’s name is to that person the sweetest and most important sound in any language.

“We should be aware of the magic contained in a name and realize that this single item is wholly and completely owned by the person with whom we are dealing … and nobody else.“ Page 108

07.2.4 An Easy to Way to Become a Good Conversationalist

Pages 110 – 120

PRINCIPLE 4 Be a good listener. Encourage others to talk about themselves.

“And so I had him thinking of me as a good conversationalist when, in reality, I had been merely a good listener and had encouraged him to talk.” Page 111

08.2.5 How to Interest People

Pages 121 – 125

PRINCIPLE 5 Talk in terms of the other person’s interests.

‘Mr. Funkhouser, I believe I can make money for you.’

09.2.6 How to make People Like you Instantly

Pages 126 – 138.

PRINCIPLE 6 Make the other person feel important—and do it sincerely.

“What was I trying to get out of him!!! What was I trying to get out of him!!!” Page 127

Carnegie’s point here is that he is not pandering, and that he had sincere interest.  He didn’t want to know the other person in order to gain – he just wanted to know them.  Why not?  Life is short.  Say hello to the person next to you.

PART THREE How to Win People to Your Way of Thinking

10.3.01: You Can’t Win an Argument

Pages 143 – 150.

PRINCIPLE 1 The only way to get the best of an argument is to avoid it.

“As wise old Ben Franklin used to say: If you argue and rankle and contradict, you may achieve a victory sometimes; but it will be an empty victory because you will never get your opponent’s good will.” Page 146

11.3.02: A Sure Way of Making Enemies—and How to Avoid It

Pages 151 – 163.

PRINCIPLE 2 Show respect for the other person’s opinions. Never say, “You’re wrong.”

An adult to young Ben Franklin on his difficult nature, “Ben, you are impossible. Your opinions have a slap in them for everyone who differs with you. They have become so offensive that nobody cares for them. Your friends find they enjoy themselves better when you are not around. You know so much that no man can tell you anything. Indeed, no man is going to try, for the effort would lead only to discomfort and hard work. So you are not likely ever to know any more than you do now, which is very little.” Page 157

12.3.03: If You’re Wrong, Admit It (Carnegie Video Short: If You’re Wrong, Admit It)

Pages 164 – 171.

PRINCIPLE 3 If you are wrong, admit it quickly and emphatically.

“There is a certain degree of satisfaction in having the courage to admit one’s errors. It not only clears the air of guilt and defensiveness, but often helps solve the problem created by the error.” Page 167

13.3.04: A Drop of Honey

Pages 172 – 181.

PRINCIPLE 4 Begin in a friendly way.

“They can’t be forced or driven to agree with you or me. But they may possibly be led to, if we are gentle and friendly, ever so gentle and ever so friendly.” Page 175

14.3.05: The Secret of Socrates

Pages 182 – 189.

PRINCIPLE 5 Get the other person saying “yes, yes” immediately.

“Begin by emphasizing—and keep on emphasizing—the things on which you agree.” Page 183

“Get the other person saying “Yes, yes” at the outset.” Page 183

“The skillful speaker gets, at the outset, a number of “Yes” responses.” Page 183

15.3.06: The Safety Valve in Handling Complaints

Pages 190 – 195

PRINCIPLE 6 Let the other person do a great deal of the talking.

“I know I would have lost the contract if I hadn’t lost my voice, because I had the wrong idea about the whole proposition. I discovered, quite by accident, how richly it sometimes pays to let the other person do the talking.” Page 191

16.3.07: How to Get Cooperation

Pages 196 – 201

PRINCIPLE 7 Let the other person feel that the idea is his or hers.

“The reason why rivers and seas receive the homage of a hundred mountain streams is that they keep below them.” Lao-tse

17.3.08: A Formula That Will Work Wonders for You

Pages 202 – 208

PRINCIPLE 8 Try honestly to see things from the other person’s point of view.

Dr. Gerald S. Nirenberg commented: “Cooperativeness in conversation is achieved when you show that you consider the other person’s ideas and feelings as important as your own.” Page 203

18.3.09: What Everybody Wants

Pages 208 – 216

PRINCIPLE 9 Be sympathetic with the other person’s ideas and desires.

“Three-fourths of the people you will ever meet are hungering and thirsting for sympathy. Give it to them, and they will love you.” Page 208

19.3.10: An Appeal That Everybody Likes

Pages 217 – 222

PRINCIPLE 10 Appeal to the nobler motives.

“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.” Page 217

20.3.11: The Movies Do It. TV Does It. Why Don’t You Do It?

Pages 223 – 227

PRINCIPLE 11 Dramatize your ideas.

Hap Klopp once told me, “You can invite people to a ballet or a rock show – and they’ll have a good time at either.  But you can’t invite them to one and give them the other.”  People like a show – but tell them what show you’re inviting them to.

“This is the day of dramatization. Merely stating a truth isn’t enough. The truth has to be made vivid, interesting, dramatic. You have to use showmanship. The movies do it. Television does it. And you will have to do it if you want attention.” Page 223

21.3.12: When Nothing Else Works, Try This

Pages 228 – 231

PRINCIPLE 12 Throw down a challenge.

“That is what every successful person loves: the game. The chance for self-expression. The chance to prove his or her worth, to excel, to win. … The desire to excel. The desire for a feeling of importance.” Page 231

PART FOUR Be a Leader: How to Change People Without Giving Offense or Arousing Resentment

22.4.1: If You Must Find Fault, This Is the Way to Begin

Pages 237 – 242.

PRINCIPLE 1 Begin with praise and honest appreciation.

“Beginning with Praise is like the dentist who begins with Novocaine.” Page 242

23.4.2: How to Criticize—and Not Be Hated for It

Pages 244 – 248

PRINCIPLE 2 Call attention to people’s mistakes indirectly.

“Gentlemen,” he started, “you are leaders. You will be most effective when you lead by example.”

24.4.3: Talk About Your Own Mistakes First

Pages 249 – 253.

PRINCIPLE 3 Talk about your own mistakes before criticizing the other person.

“Admitting one’s own mistakes—even when one hasn’t corrected them—can help convince somebody to change his behavior.” Page 253

25.4.4: No One Likes to Take Orders

Pages 254 – 256

PRINCIPLE 4 Ask questions instead of giving direct orders.

“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.” Page 255

26.4.5: Let the Other Person Save Face

Pages 257 – 259

PRINCIPLE 5 Let the other person save face.

“Whereas a few minutes’ thought, a considerate word or two, a genuine understanding of the other person’s attitude, would go so far toward alleviating the sting!” Page 257

27.4.6: How to Spur People On to Success

Pages 261 – 266.

PRINCIPLE 6 Praise the slightest improvement and praise every improvement. Be “hearty in your approbation and lavish in your praise.”

“He pointed out exactly why it was superior and how important the young man’s contribution was to the company.” Pg 264

“Let me repeat: The principles taught in this book will work only when they come from the heart.” Pg 265

“Compared with what we ought to be, we are only half awake.” Pg 266

28.4.7: Give a Dog a Good Name

Pages 267 – 271

PRINCIPLE 7 Give the other person a fine reputation to live up to.

“Shakespeare said, “Assume a virtue, if you have it not.”” Page 268

29.4.8: Make the Fault Seem Easy to Correct

Pages 272 – 276

PRINCIPLE 8 Use encouragement. Make the fault seem easy to correct.

“He gave you confidence, inspired you with courage and faith.” Page 273

30.4.9: Making People Glad to Do What You Want

Pages 277 – 282

PRINCIPLE 9 Make the other person happy about doing the thing you suggest.

“Always make the other person happy about doing the thing you suggest.” Page 277 Changing Attitudes or Behavior

The highlight here is Rule #2: 2. Know exactly what it is you want the other person to do.

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