Summary of How to Win Friends and Influence People


How to Win Friends and Influence People is a classic book by Dale Carnegie with a pretty self-explanatory title. I read this book recently, and was surprised to find that it epitomized a lot of the wisdom I had already picked up from a variety of other sources. Note that this summary is from the revised 1981 edition, which removed the sections on writing good business letters and achieving marital satisfaction.


Part I: Fundamental techniques in handling people

  • don’t criticize, condemn or complain
  • give honest and sincere appreciation
  • arouse in the other person an eager want

Part II: Six ways to make people like you

  • become genuinely interested in other people
  • smile
  • remember that a person’s name is to that person the sweetest and most important sound in any language
  • be a good listener, encourage others to talk about themselves
  • talk in terms of the other person’s interests
  • make the other person feel important – and do it sincerely

Part III: How to win people to your way of thinking

  • the only way to get the best of an argument is to avoid it
  • show respect for the other person’s opinions, never say “you’re wrong”
  • if you are wrong, admit it quickly and emphatically
  • begin in a friendly way
  • get the other person saying “yes, yes” immediately
  • let the other person do a great deal of the talking
  • let the other person feel that the idea is his or hers
  • try honestly to see things from the other person’s point of view
  • be sympathetic with the other person’s ideas and desires
  • appeal to the nobler motives
  • dramatize your ideas
  • throw down a challenge

Part IV: Be a leader: how to change people without giving offense or arousing resentment

  • begin with praise and honest appreciation
  • call attention to people’s mistakes indirectly
  • talk about your own mistakes before criticizing the other person
  • ask questions instead of giving direct orders
  • let the other person save face
  • praise the slightest improvement and praise every improvement, be hearty in your approbation and lavish in your praise
  • give the other person a fine reputation to live up to
  • use encouragement, make the fault seem easy to correct
  • make the other person happy about doing the thing you suggest

Nine suggestions to get the most out of this book

  • intrinsic drive to learn, determination to increase social skills – remember how important this is, visualize success
  • skim each chapter once, then read again thoroughly
  • pause during the reading to think about it and how to apply it
  • highlight things, especially suggestions – much easier to review rapidly next time
  • spend a few hours/month reviewing the book, turn into habitual action (SRS)
  • apply these rules at every opportunity – new habits require time and persistence
  • create a game out of the rules, give others a dollar if they catch you violating them
  • keep a daily planner, do a weekly review and ask yourself:
    • what mistakes did I make that time?
    • what did I do that was right, and how could I have improved my performance?
    • what lessons can I learn from that experience?
  • record specific examples of your success at using these principles

All of the principles taught in the book will only work when coming sincerely from the heart. This is not a bag of tricks, this is a new way of life. You already possess these powers which you are habitually not using.


Show others sincere appreciation

Most people are starved for appreciation

  • fulfill that need and people will love you
  • do this all the time, everywhere
  • ask yourself: what is there about them that I can honestly admire?
  • always make the other person feel important!
  • ask others to share their achievements with you, only share yours when they ask
  • avoid the common habit of saying nothing about the good, and always pointing out the bad

Be hearty in your approbation and lavish in your praise

  • appreciation and encouragement arouse enthusiasm, people put out greater effort under approval than criticism
  • people will go out of their way to help you if you make them feel good about themselves
  • praise publicly as well as privately
  • reframe bad events positively (e.g. he didn’t lose money, he recovered so much of the sunk investment…)
  • leave gratitude in your wake, and you will return to friendship
  • people will remember your words long after you’ve forgotten them
  • people who feel appreciated will bestow upon you all variety of gifts

Insincere praise is mere flattery

  • telling the other person what he thinks about himself
  • shallow, selfish
  • most discerning people can tell if you are only complimenting them to manipulate them, you will fail
  • some are thirsty enough for praise they may still benefit


Appeal to the interest of others

The only way to get anyone to do anything is to make them want to do it. People will rarely succeed at a task unless they have fun doing it. Ask yourself: “How can I make this person want to do this task?”

People know more about their own business and problems than you do

  • let them talk themselves out
  • they are giving you info
  • ask questions

Everyone has their own interests

  • before any meeting, study whatever the person is interested in
  • mention first that which interests the other person most
  • don’t talk about your own interests unless asked – people can’t listen to you until they are fully expressed themselves
  • talk about what they want and show them how to get it
  • be explicit about how your suggestions will accomplish their goals
  • unselfishly trying to serve others is a rare quality, and will win you allies
  • enjoy the feeling of helping another without any recourse to yourself

Become genuinely interested in other people

  • everyone likes people who admire us
  • send costly signals to others: do tasks which require time, energy, selflessness, thoughtfulness
  • greet people with animation and enthusiasm
  • greet everyone by name, including assistants
  • answer the phone in a tone that sounds glad to receive the call
  • schedule people’s birthdays and remember them


Be a good listener

People will think you’re a great conversationalist if they just talk the entire time about their own interests!

Listen because you are genuinely interested and others will feel it

  • be attentive
  • encourage them to talk about themselves and their accomplishments
  • ask questions the other will enjoy answering
  • be interested to appear interesting

Listen intently

  • stop whatever else you are doing
  • face the person
  • sit erect on the edge of your chair
  • make little other movement
  • pay exclusive attention
  • don’t be thinking about your next response

A patient, sympathetic listener will disarm just about anyone

  • complaining is often a need for attention
  • agree with the person, sympathize, thank them for bringing this to light
  • sometimes people just need to talk something out, and need no external input
  • this will develop strong customer loyalty


Don’t criticize, condemn or complain

Criticism is dangerous

  • puts people on the defensive
  • hurts sense of importance
  • arouses resentment
  • demoralizes
  • will justify own actions and then condemn you instead
  • does not produce lasting changes
  • trying to improve yourself is a lot more profitable

Instead, try to seek understanding

  • our first reaction to most statements is evaluation or judgment
  • there is a reason they acted this way, understand that and you have the key to their actions
  • by becoming interested in the cause, we are less inclined to dislike the effect – to know all is to forgive all
  • everyone thinks they are doing the right thing
  • see things from the point of view of the other person
  • beware the fundamental attribution error: you deserve little credit for what you are, and them little discredit for being what they are, given your respective situations
  • measure people by their own yardstick, not your own
  • love others just as they are
  • everyone you meet is your superior in some way, learn from them
  • it is much more fun to try to get other people to like you

Write an angry letter to blow off steam, but do not send it (or check again in two days)


Do not argue

Would you prefer a theatrical victory or a person’s good will? You can rarely have both.

You can’t win an argument

  • 9/10 times each party is only more convinced of their own position (very bad for sales)
  • by pointing out someone else is wrong, you’re causing them to lose face
  • even if you “win” you have made the other feel inferior and hurt his pride and generated resentment
  • as far as changing their mind you might as well be completely wrong
  • agree with the other person’s argument, and they have nowhere to go from there
  • once you stop arguing, admit the other’s importance and allow their ego to expand, they will become sympathetic again

Do not tell people they are wrong

  • you strike a direct blow at their intelligence, judgment, pride and self-respect
  • you can tell people they are wrong by a look or gesture or tone as easily as through words
  • you will not alter their opinions if you hurt their feelings
  • never let anyone know you are attempting to prove something
  • ask questions in a friendly, cooperative way to help others realize they are wrong
  • they may acknowledge to themselves they are wrong, but it takes tact to admit this publicly and become open-minded

Admit if you are wrong

  • admit it quickly, openly, emphatically
  • this will end the argument immediately and encourage others to be open-minded too
  • beat the other person to the punch – they will become more forgiving of your self-criticism
  • learn to revel in this self-criticism, this can be much more fun than trying to defend yourself
  • you don’t have to stand by old statements, tell others you changed your mind

To keep disagreement from becoming an argument

  • welcome the disagreement, be thankful for the opportunity to correct yourself
  • distrust instinctive impressions, first reaction is to be defensive
  • control your temper
  • listen first, let them finish and do not resist, defend or debate
  • look for areas of agreement, dwell on them first
  • be honest, find areas to admit your own error and apologize for mistakes
  • promise to consider their ideas carefully, they may be right and you should agree to think it over
  • thank your interlocutors sincerely, anyone who spends time disagreeing has a shared interest with you and wants to help
  • postpone action to give both sides time to think, suggest a followup meeting and ask yourself these questions:
    • could my opponent be right? partially right?
    • is there truth or merit in their position?
    • will my reaction relieve the problem or just my frustration?
    • will my reaction draw my interlocutor in or push him away?
    • will my reaction increase my estimation in the eyes of good people?
    • will I win or lose? what price must I pay to win?
    • if I am quiet will the disagreement blow over?
    • is this difficult situation actually an opportunity?

From Ben Franklin’s autobiography for social skills and self-improvement:

  • realize that being insolent and opinionated will lead to social ruin, and change immediately
  • make a rule to forbid direct contradiction of others, and positive assertion of our own ideas
  • avoid language which imports a fixed opinion: certainly, undoubtedly, etc.
  • use instead: conceive, apprehend, imagine, it appears to me…
  • acknowledge the other person is right for some case, but it appears to be different in this one
  • this resulted in better reception of ideas, an easier time admitting his own wrong beliefs, and getting others to do the same!

Cooperative conversation

  • begin by emphasizing the points on which you agree
  • emphasize you are striving towards the same ends: difference of method, not purpose
  • show the other person you consider his ideas and feelings as important as your own
  • give the person a purpose or direction at the start of the conversation
  • say what you would want to hear as the listener
  • accept his viewpoint to encourage the listener to have an open mind


Interpersonal interactions


  • do not fear being misunderstood
  • don’t waste time thinking about enemies
  • fix in your mind what you wish to do
  • picture in your mind the person you wish to be (visualization)
  • attitude of courage, frankness and good cheer


  • the expression on your face is more important than the clothes on your back
  • action and feeling move together, act as if you were happy and you will become so
  • generates positive mood contagion
  • do so even while talking on the phone
  • insincere grins fool no one
  • you must have a good time meeting others if you expect them to have a good time meeting you

Body language

  • worth repeating: smile!
  • draw the chin in
  • carry the crown of the head high
  • inhale deeply
  • put soul into handshakes

Use radiant language, full of praise and positive affect

  • Example: Rockefeller to strikers
    • proud to be here
    • visited your homes, met your wives and children
    • we meet not as strangers, but as friends
    • spirit of mutual friendship, common interests
    • here by your courtesy
  • Example: Webster to jurors
    • it will be for the jury to consider
    • this may, perhaps, be worth thinking of
    • here are some facts I trust you not to lose sight of
    • you, with your knowledge of human nature, will easily see the significance of these facts

People love to hear their own name. Name things after other people!

System for remembering names

  • find out complete name, facts about family, business/political opinions
  • if you don’t hear the name clearly ask them to repeat it, ask for spelling if unusual
  • look at features, expression, general appearance
  • fix these facts in mind as part of a picture
  • repeat the name
  • write it down later to make an eye-impression as well as ear-impression
  • don’t make excuses for yourself

Little courtesies are social lubricant

  • would you be so kind as to…
  • won’t you please?
  • would you mind?
  • thank you

Tips for interacting with famous people

  • read about the lives of famous people, then ask them about their childhood
  • being around powerful people can imbue you with confidence and ambition
  • most successful people like to reminisce about their early struggles
  • temperamental stars need lots of sympathy



No one wants to be sold anything, people want to buy things to solve their problems , and your enthusiasm in a product can invoke an eager want .

Don’t try to force your opinions on others, or use high-pressure tactics – be soft-spoken, quiet, friendly

Get the other person saying “yes” to you from the outset, never let them say “no”

  • chain together a string of yeses!
  • physiological response, opening of the body, receptive to ideas…

Dramatize your ideas

  • dramatizing a product gets people to buy it
  • you simply must use showmanship if you want to garner attention
  • merely stating the truth is not enough, the truth must be made vivid, interesting, dramatic
  • works in life as well as business, e.g. don’t just express love in words

Steps to collect from non-payers

  • when no information is yet obtained, assume the person is sincere, honest, truthful and willing and anxious to pay
  • call to find out what your company had done or failed to do
  • offer no opinion until you’ve heard the customer
  • the customer is the ultimate authority on his own interest and situation
  • let him talk, listen with sympathy
  • once in a reasonable mood, appeal to sense of fairness


How to change behavior

You have the power to inspire people with a realization of their latent possibilities

Guidelines for behavior change

  • be sincere, don’t promise anything you can’t deliver, concentrate on benefits to other person
  • know exactly what it is you want the other person to do
  • be empathetic, ask yourself what the other person wants
  • consider the benefits the other person will receive
  • match those benefits to the person’s desires
  • convey the request so the person knows he will benefit

Praise the slightest improvement and praise every improvement

  • abilities wither under criticism, and blossom under encouragement
  • reputations (good or bad) are self-fulfilling prophecies, so give people good ones!
  • act as though they already possessed that trait – assume this and state it publicly
  • it can be difficult to find things to praise when you’re focused on the negatives
  • use specific examples and accomplishments, say why the work was good and how important it was to the business
  • don’t just flatter people!

When someone makes a mistake

  • thank them for their work
  • tell them it is not unusual to make this mistake
  • show confidence in them, that they tried their best
  • lack of experience, not ability, was the reason for failure
  • you trust them not to do it again now

Begin feedback with praise and honest appreciation

  • it is always easier to hear unpleasant things after first receiving praise
  • when other people realize you have confidence in them, they are willing to follow suggestions
  • what matters is not what we think of others, but what they think of themselves

Do not follow up sincere praise with a “but” and then a critical statement

  • praise feels like a contrived lead-in to criticism, listener questions the praise
  • change this to and!
  • this indirectly calls attention to the behavior we want to change, works especially well for sensitive people

Talk about your own mistakes before criticizing the other person

  • it is easier to hear about your own faults from someone who just admitted his
  • this can work even if you haven’t corrected your own behavior yet
  • the next-best thing is to praise after a criticism, sometimes you can still recover

Make the fault seem easy to correct

  • be encouraging
  • tell the person you have faith in their abilities
  • tell the person they already possess natural talent
  • the person will practice the skill in order to excel

Always give suggestions instead of orders

  • saves a person’s pride, gives feeling of importance
  • makes it easy for others to correct errors
  • people are more likely to cooperate if they have some part in the decision
  • explain the importance of the situation
  • asking questions stimulates creativity – what is the problem and how do we fix it?
  • let others do things, and learn from their mistakes

Let the other person come up with ideas

  • use low-key suggestions at proper intervals to get them to develop your idea themselves
  • let them suggest it as their own, care about results not credit – publicly award credit to others
  • we trust ideas we discover more than ones given to us
  • we like to think we are acting on our own ideas, not being commanded
  • ask others to give you their thoughts, they will feel like part of the creative process
  • we like to think we are buying something, not being sold
  • give people referrals, let them do the investigation and sell themselves on the idea

Always make the other person happy about doing what you want

  • turn someone down for a position by telling them they are too important for it
  • give someone a new title for work they are already doing, give old position to someone better
  • when giving someone an honor, make them feel like they are doing you a favor to accept it
  • after turning down an offer, give an immediate substitute so they don’t have time to feel bad about the refusal
  • give the leader of a rival faction a title and some authority to bring them in line with your cause

Stimulate competition via challenge

  • if the work is exciting and interesting, the people will be motivated to do a good job
  • successful, driven people love the game: self-expression, proving your worth, to excel, to win

Appeal to noble motives

  • people have two reasons for doing things: the real reason (near mode) and the one that sounds good (far mode)
  • appeal to noble motives to change behaviors
  • offer famous/wealthy people to give money to their favorite charity

When letting people go, praise their efforts and express confidence in them

  • they will not feel so let down
  • they will leave with good will
  • they will return if needed again
  • Jason Youngman

    Awesome Summary! Thanks a bunch!

    Have you written summaries on other such books; Self-help/development & success?

  • paul in DC

    thank you William for summarizing the book so ingeniously!
    It is creative way to put the thoughts of the book into a great summary!
    much appreciate it!