1 Jun 2022


Dale Carnegie’s How to Win Friends and Influence People

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Academic level: College

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Dale Carnegie was a best-selling author who wrote various motivational books on different topics including public speaking, sales, self-advancement, corporate training and self-presentation for success in life. Among his best sellers is the book "How to Win Friends and Influence People” which was published in 1936 and revised in 1981. The book has sold over fifty million copies and was ranked nineteenth in Time Magazines’ most influential books 2011 list. The book teaches the readers about how to change their mindsets, make friends easily, become more popular, be people influencers, improve their conversation and interpersonal skills and become enthusiasts among the youth. The book is divided into four parts with the first part discussing how to interact with people; the second part is about how to make people like you, the third part about how to win people to your thought process and the fourth about how to change people. The summary will explore the book part by part summarizing the key concepts that the writer conveyed in each. 

“If you want to gather honey, don’t kick over the beehive.” That is the opening quote for the first part of the book, and the first chapter is entitled fundamental techniques in handling people (Carnegie, 2017). The quote is followed by a story about the manhunt of Crowley a criminal who had shot a police officer after being asked for his license on the road and later sentenced to death. Carnegie uses the story and the criminal’s attitude of defending his heinous acts until his death to showcase how human beings dread criticism and judgment. He further alludes to his interaction with Lewis Lawes a prison warden who says that criminals use fallacies and logic to justify their behavior and few of them consider themselves bad people (Carnegie, 2017). The first principle of handling people is never to criticize condemn or complain to because it hurts their pride, their esteem and makes them defensive. Instead of criticizing people for bad behavior, it is more constructive to reward them when they do well as reinforcement for good behavior. 

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The second chapter is entitled the big secret of dealing with people, and it builds on the second principle of giving honest praise and sincere appreciation (Carnegie, 2017). He opens the chapter by saying that the only way to make people do things is by making them want to do whatever someone wants them to do. Forcing people to do things has negative ramifications especially in the workplace since as he retaliates the deepest human desire is to feel important and great. An individual who masters the art of complimenting people earns their admiration and affection, and they will do whatever they tell them because he is appreciative of their efforts (Carnegie, 2017). The desire to feel important is what drives people to better themselves in life either through education; their way of dressing, their lifestyle and it even drives them into doing negative things like joining gangs and faking illness to gain sympathy and attention since it makes them feel important. He further reflects on his conversation with Charles Schwab who taught him that the best way of dealing with people is by arousing their enthusiasm (Carnegie, 2017). He further says that the secret to nurturing ambition in subordinates is not by becoming their critic but by giving them an incentive to do what you want them to do. 

Chapter three of part one opens with the quote “He who can do this has the whole world with him and he who cannot walks a lonely way” (Carnegie, 2017). The chapter begins with an illustration of fishing and how the fisherman prioritizes what the fish wants to bait them. The same logic can be applied in attracting people whereby you give them what they want to make them come to you willingly (Carnegie, 2017). By discussing what they want and showing them how to get it, you attract people to you because nobody is interested in what you want but you. Instead of telling people not to do something show them why they shouldn’t do it by demonstrating the adverse outcomes (Carnegie, 2017). The chapter's primary emphasis is being empathetic to other people's plight and always looking at things from their perspective before jumping into judgments and conclusions so that one can make a fair assumption. By arousing an eager want in others and showing them what they have to gain from a situation before anything else, a person can persuade them into buying whatever they're selling or believe whatever they want them to (Carnegie, 2017). To wrap up the first chapter, the fundamental techniques of handling people rest in the three principles the first being zero criticizing, complaining and condemnation (Carnegie, 2017). The second is honestly appreciating people and the third arousing an eager want in others. 

The second part of the book discusses how to make people like you. The first principle is picking genuine interest in other people (Carnegie, 2017). The section opens with a demonstration of how dogs make friends effortlessly since they don’t attach expectations to their friendships. Carnegie gives examples of people who were successful in their careers due to their genuine interest in people like Howard Thurston a successful Broadway magician and Theodore Roosevelt (Carnegie, 2017). Both of these great men showed appreciation for the people they served and Roosevelt knew his employees from the gardener to the cook by name and made casual conversations with them without condescension or a feeling of superiority (Carnegie, 2017). Unlike other magicians who felt too important attracting crowds, Thurston felt lucky that those people could even consider coming to his shows which made him give his best to his performances making him stand out and likable to his fans. Friendships are formed by taking an interest in other people and going out of one's way to make contact and learn more about the other person (Carnegie, 2017). Genuine interest and enthusiasm in other human beings win people friends than trying to get them interested in you. 

The second chapter is about making good first impressions (Carnegie, 2017). The opening paragraph of this chapter emphasizes the importance of having a charming smile and a likable personality. The author titles this section of the book as “Do this and you will be welcome anywhere” to show the power of a smile. Genuine smiles, genuine interest and genuine actions among strangers win them over instantly just like a toddler's smile or a dog's sincere enthusiasm on seeing someone lights up a room. The second chapter talks about making a good first impression to win people over when meeting them for the first time (Carnegie, 2017). To make a good first impression one has to have a likable predisposition and look open and approachable not closed off and unfriendly. A simple smile has a way of changing a person's attitude towards their job, family, friends, acquaintances, and life in general and once someone's first impression radiates warmth and cheerfulness, the interactions that follow are friendly and positive (Carnegie, 2017). Optimism is key in maintaining a happy life by paying little attention to negative people and the negative energy they radiate and this, in turn, brings out a positive response from the people you interact with daily (Carnegie, 2017). He sums up the section by saying that the second principle is to smile. 

The third chapter of part two is titled “If you don’t do this you are headed for trouble” (Carnegie, 2017). Carnegie offsets this chapter with a story of a not so well educated man by the name Jim Farley who had horary degrees and was the chairman of several corporations despite having never attended high school. He attributes his success to knowing a lot of people by their first names since people are more interested in their name than any other names on earth (Carnegie, 2017). The third principle is that a person's name is his most favorite sound in the world and if you want to make a connection calling them often by name is a reflection of your interest and attentiveness to them (Carnegie, 2017). The fourth chapter deals with how to become an excellent conversationalist. The main point in this section is the power of active listening which he reinforces by saying that to catch people's attention you must first be attentive to what they have to say. Being inquisitive and encouraging people to share their achievements is part of being a good conversationalist (Carnegie, 2017). The fourth principle is, therefore, being a good listener and giving people space to talk about their achievements. 

Chapter five discusses how to interest people, and he again makes reference to Roosevelt's way with people by saying that he engaged with people at all levels of life by preparing himself by reading about a topic his guests would find interesting in advance (Carnegie, 2017). By picking another person's interests and researching about them, one can carry out an intelligent and informed conversation which most definitely keeps people interested. The fifth principle is, therefore, prioritizing other people's interests in conversations. Chapter six is about how to make people like you from the word go (Carnegie, 2017). Carnegie writes that the secret lies in making the other party feel valued and important and following the golden rule with how you treat others being a reflection of how you desire to be treated. The sixth principle is to make other people feel sincerely important wrapping up the second part of the book (Carnegie, 2017). Through smiling when interacting with them, remembering their name and actively listening to them, they feel important and like they matter to you. 

The third part is about how to win people to one’s way of thinking (Carnegie, 2017). Chapter one is titled you can’t win an argument and Carnegie advices people to avoid arguments at all costs. Arguments are embarrassing, belittling and only antagonize people which is bad for making human connections. Winning an argument never ends well since the other party ends up hurt and embarrassed and they might even turn violent or hold a grudge for life (Carnegie, 2017). The first principle in this part is that the best way to win an argument is avoiding it. Chapter two talks about a sure way of making enemies and gives tips on how to avoid it. The sure way is by telling someone out rightly that they are wrong which makes them feel like their intelligence has been insulted and they form a negative attitude towards you. The best way to avoid this Carnegie says is by asking the person to politely re examine the facts if you are sure that they are right (Carnegie, 2017). The second principle is, therefore, respecting other people's opinions and avoiding telling them they're wrong to their face. 

Chapter three talks about admitting when someone does something wrong (Carnegie, 2017). Once someone catches you doing wrong, don't try to justify your deeds but just apologize from the heart and promise never to repeat the same mistake again. The third principle is, therefore, admitting your wrongs in a quick and emphatic manner when you do wrong. The fourth chapter is called a drop of honey and discusses the various methods of dealing with complex situations (Carnegie, 2017). In this chapter, the author addresses how people respond to others when angry and advices that they should desist from saying things they will be embarrassed about just because they are upset. They should always consider the feelings of the person on the receiving end and should, therefore, be friendly and kind to others regardless of how they feel (Carnegie, 2017). Principle four, therefore, states that people should always be friendly to others to make connections and influence them. 

Chapter five is titled the secrets of Socrates and which states that when trying to make a change people should always be accommodating of the opposite views (Carnegie, 2017). When discussing issues, people should concentrate more on the agreeable areas than on the differing ones to win the other party over to your side. The fifth principle is to get the other person agreeing to you immediately. Chapter six is titled “The Safety Valve In Handling Complaints” (Carnegie, 2017). In this chapter Carnegie says that people should be left to speak their minds without interruptions even if you don’t agree with them and the sixth principle is to let people do much of the talking (Carnegie, 2017). Chapter seven is titled how to get cooperation, and the principle is that you should let others come up with ideas and by encouraging them to air and act on them you win them over. Principle eight is to try to sincerely see things from other people’s perspective while principle nine is about being sympathetic to other people’s ideas and desires (Carnegie, 2017). The tenth principle is to always appeal to what other people like when trying to make them do anything and the last on that part is to dramatize ideas and to throw down a challenge. 

The final part of the book is how to be a transformative leader without offending people or arousing resentment in them during the change process (Carnegie, 2017). The first principle is to always begin with the good side of something when correcting your subordinates. A show of appreciation makes them take correction more positively without getting defensive and feeling unappreciated. The second principle is about how to correct people without arousing hatred from them (Carnegie, 2017). Carnegie states that to do this, a leader needs to correct their followers indirectly without following up the positive information with a but and instead of replacing the but with a more positive phrase. The third principle states that as a leader you should talk about your problems before pointing out those of other people (Carnegie, 2017). The fourth principle addresses the giving of orders like a leader, and Carnegie says that people don't like being dictated naturally and so instead of issuing instructions as an order they should be phrased as questions. 

The fifth principle is always to shield others from embarrassment as much as possible (Carnegie, 2017). When other people make mistakes, correct them without demeaning their capabilities especially in front of other people but instead understand and encourage them to do better next time. The sixth principle is about how to motivate people to succeed, and Carnegie says it's through sincere acknowledgment and appreciation of people's slightest improvements (Carnegie, 2017). The seventh principle is dubbed give a dog a good name and states that when you encounter someone who is failing at something, create an image of the successful person they can be so that they can aspire to live up to that successful name (Carnegie, 2017). The eighth principle is to simplify mistakes in the eyes of the person who commits them and make them seem easily correctable. The ninth and final principle is that you should make people enjoy what you want them to do (Carnegie, 2017). Showing them the benefits they will accrue from performing the task not only encourages them but also makes them glad to be making a difference. 

In sum, the book is about being a better friend, conversationalist, leader and a friendly and likable human being. Dale Carnegie addresses these issues by giving illustrations and real life stories from people he interacted with or researched. For every part of the book there are principles to guide the readers, and if followed they will as the title of the book suggests helping the reader become influencers and make friends. 


Carnegie, D. (2017). How to Win Friends and Influence People . S.L.: Amaryllis. 

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