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Written over 80 years ago, How to Win Friends and Influence People is a book that is as relative today as it was when it was first written. The principles are a broad mix of personal and professional advice based on the psychology of relationships.

From making friends to succeeding in business, the principles outlined here serve as a proven guide for anyone who wants to build better relationships and get the most out of them.


Part one: fundamental techniques in handling people

Principle 1: don't criticize, condemn, or complain.

Psychologists have proven that rewarding good behavior increases the chance that the behavior will continue. Criticizing bad habits only leads to resentment and makes effective communication almost impossible. It's important to understand that people are influenced by emotion, pride, and ego.

"Criticism is futile because it puts a person on the defensive and usually makes them strive to justify themselves." — Dale Carnegie

Principle 2: give honest and sincere appreciation.

The need to be appreciated is one of the most basic of human needs. Everyone wants to feel good about themselves and the effort they put forth. When we take the time to sincerely show someone how much they are appreciated, they feel good about themselves and good about the person showing the appreciation.

Principle 3: arouse in the other person an eager want.

When we want someone to do something, we must relate the request to what is important to them.

By taking the time to understand what is important to someone and framing our needs with their desires, we make it easy for that person to actually want to do something. When a task is relevant to what they consider important, they have a personal stake in making sure the task is done effectively and efficiently.

Part two: six ways to make people like you

Principle 1: become genuinely interested in other people.

It's human nature to be mostly concerned with ourselves. When we take the time to really look at another person, we can often find things that are of genuine interest. People like people who show interest in them and if that interest is genuine, it creates a strong foundation for a real relationship.

Principle 2: smile.

The simple act of smiling has a positive effect on the person smiling and anyone who sees them smiling. Smiling just makes everyone feel better! Even smiling when talking on the phone has positive effects because the power of smiling comes through in tone and in words, even when it isn't seen.

Principle 3: remember that a person's name is to that person the sweetest and most important sound in any language.

A person's name is a very personal and important part of their self-worth. Remembering someone's name makes them feel important; forgetting someone's name makes them feel unimportant. Remembering names, and spelling them correctly, is a skill that will help personal and business relationships.

"The average person is more interested in his or her own name than in all the other names on earth put together." — Dale Carnegie

Principle 4: be a good listener. encourage others to talk about themselves.

Good listeners are often seen as good conversationalists. Developing this skill takes practice, but the payoff is worth it. When we listen to someone intently, without interruption, it shows that we find them important and worth our time. A great rule of thumb is to focus on listening 75% of the time and talking 25% of the time.

Principle 5: talk in terms of the other person's interests.

Learning what topics interest someone and encouraging them to talk about those topics takes being a good listener to a whole new level. It makes them feel important, interesting, and understood. This skill also benefits the listener. The more someone talks about themselves and their interests, the more we can learn about them and further advance the relationship.

Principle 6: make the other person feel important – and do it sincerely.

Whether it's an acquaintance, or a complete stranger, when we make an effort to acknowledge someone or something positive about them, we make them feel important. When we make someone feel important, we let them know that they matter to us.

Part three: how to win people to your way of thinking

Principle 1: the only way to get the best of an argument is to avoid it.

Arguments simply have no positive outcome. Disagreements are inevitable but how we handle those disagreements means the difference between resolution or indifference. Instead of confrontation, listening to understand will often lead to insights that lead to a beneficial resolution.

"A man convinced against his will, is of the same opinion still." — Benjamin Franklin

Principle 2: show respect for other people's opinions. never say, "you're wrong."

A great skill for avoiding arguments altogether is a legitimate respect for other people's opinions. When we tell someone that they are just wrong, we are often insulting them without even realizing it. Wrong, or right, everyone is entitled to their opinion. By being open to other's opinions and listening to what they have to say without judgment, we often find common ground for discussion instead of arguing.

Principle 3: if you're wrong, admit it quickly and emphatically.

Being wrong isn't a weakness, it's a part of being human. All too often, people make a simple mistake into a bigger problem because they just can't admit that they are wrong. By admitting a mistake quickly and clearly, we actually show strength of character and the desire to make things right.

Principle 4: begin in a friendly way.

No matter how right or seemingly justified someone feels about an issue, their goal should never be to simply prove a point. The goal should always be to express an opinion or have a discussion, as opposed to proving who is right. The best way to do this is to use friendly or neutral words and tone instead of just going head-to-head. The results are much more productive, and the relationship stays intact.

Principle 5: get the other person saying "yes, yes" immediately.

Disagreements are a part of relationships, but when we take the time to find some common ground or something to agree on before jumping right in, we set a positive tone for the conversation. By finding these terms of agreement, we get the other person saying "yes" instead of "no." Whether it's specific points or the outcome itself, getting someone to begin seeing the things that both parties agree on keeps them open and less defensive while a solution is found.

Principle 6: let the other person do a great deal of talking.

When we let someone do most of the talking, without interruption and while listening intently, we are telling tell that what they have to say is important. By letting someone express themselves completely and encouraging them to share their thoughts, we give them the chance to be heard and understood, which leads to more open and honest relationships.

Principle 7: let the other person feel that the idea is his or hers.

It's human nature to feel more passionate about our own ideas than the ideas of others. No one likes being told what to do, but everyone likes having their own ideas validated. By asking questions and offering suggestions, it's often possible to help someone come to the desired conclusion as if it were their own. When the idea they are working with comes from themselves, people are much more invested in seeing that idea come to light.

"When dealing with people, remember you are not dealing with creatures of logic, but creatures of emotion." — Dale Carnegie

Principle 8: try honestly to see things from the other person's point of view.

One of the key skills in effective relationships is the ability to see something from another person's point of view. Not only does this skill make the other person feel important and understood, it often uncovers points that weren't so obvious at first. By understanding why someone has a certain view, the goal becomes more about what is right than about who is right.

Principle 9: be sympathetic with the other person's ideas and desires.

When we put ourselves in someone else's place, looking at their views from where they stand, we find it easy to have positive interactions instead of an argument or disagreement. Carnegie offers a simple phrase to show that empathy: "I don't blame you one iota for feeling as you do. If I were you, I would undoubtedly feel just as you do." This statement is sincere because it's true and it sets the foundation for a constructive conversation.

Principle 10: appeal to nobler motives.

By appealing to someone's desire to be moral, ethical, or some other noble value, we can often move them to cooperate or be willing to see a certain point of view by simply framing it differently. When someone can justify their change of heart because of a positive value, they are much more likely to do it.

Principle 11: dramatize your ideas.

Whether it's presenting an idea with a funny story or an elaborate presentation, ideas need a little drama to get noticed. By presenting ideas in a unique or interesting way, we stand a much better chance of getting that idea accepted.

Principle 12: throw down a challenge.

People love to compete, and they love winning even more. Even with the most mundane task or idea, a good dose of healthy competition is often enough to get more involvement and more productivity. The "prize" for the challenge isn't even that important. The challenge itself and the competition that results serve as some very motivating rewards.

Part four: be a leader

Principle 1: begin with praise and honest appreciation.

The first step in changing someone with our words is to focus on the positive before the negative. By pointing out the strengths of a person, we put them in a positive mindset. When we get to the negatives, they are much easier to hear and more likely to be accepted.

Principle 2: call attention to people's mistakes indirectly.

Direct criticism causes resentment and puts people on the defensive. By avoiding giving honest praise with a qualifying "but" that leads into a negative observation, we can often make people more receptive. "You ran great today, BUT you would have won if you had run harder." is much different than: "You ran great today, AND if you run harder next time you will probably win!" What a difference a word makes.

Principle 3: talk about your own mistakes before criticizing the other person.

People are more likely to take criticism better if they feel that the person criticizing them is not afraid of pointing out their own flaws. By creating the common ground that "nobody is perfect," it's much easier for someone to feel that the criticism is being given for their own good.

Principle 4: ask questions instead of giving direct orders.

No one likes to be told what to do. By asking people to do something directly or indirectly, it makes it easier for them to comply. "Bring me those books." is quite different than "Could you bring me those books, please?" A small change in words has a great impact.

Principle 5: let the other person save face.

Never criticize or give negative feedback in public. When we deliver negative information, we can be most effective by doing it privately and in a way that keeps the other person's dignity intact. By considering how we would feel if the roles were reversed, we can usually find a positive way to talk about a negative.

Principle 6: praise the slightest improvement and praise every improvement. be "hearty in your approbation and lavish in your praise."

By noting even the smallest steps and minor improvements, frequently and sincerely, we increase the chances of continuing improvement. Think of how we typically respond to babies as they learn to walk: lots of praise and lots of forgiveness when they fall down. The same approach works just as well for adults.

Principle 7: give the other person a fine reputation to live up to.

When we praise someone in public, or praise them for exhibiting desirable traits or actions, it gives that person a certain reputation that they will naturally want to live up to. If we sincerely tell someone that they are great at something often enough, they will begin to believe it themselves and make it a part of their reputation with themselves.

Principle 8: use encouragement. make the fault seem easy to correct.

When we minimize faults and encourage improvements, we create a sense of motivation and belief in a person that makes them feel that they can improve easily. When we focus on the faults, we make them seem much more negative than they often are, killing any motivation to improve.

Principle 9: make the other person happy about doing the thing you suggest.

Offering incentives, praise, and authority are all great ways to make a person happy to accept decisions and do what we want them to do. If someone doesn't get a promotion, but we make sure to point out how important their current role is and why their performance made them a candidate in the first place, we soften the blow and minimize the resentment.