How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie
One Line Summary
Appeal to people’s ego to make
Why it’s Awesome
I knew about this book even when I was a little kid. I’m pretty sure there’s still a copy of it lying around in my parent’s house. But of course I never bothered to actually read it until about a year ago. As they say in Zen, when the student is ready, the teacher will arrive.
If you don’t know, How to Win Friends and Influence People is considered by most people the first really successful self-help book ever written. It basically spawned the entire genre, alongside Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill. Since its publication in 1936, it still dominates the shelves at book stores, having sold over 30 million copies.
I like this book because it’s extremely well written and researched. This is not some cheesy self-help quickly thrown together with cliché wisdom just to make a buck. If you’re someone who has trouble making friends and getting people to see your point of view, this book will help you tremendously.
If I had to distill Carnegie’s advice into one sentence, it would be to appeal to other people’s egos. Show them appreciation, respect, validation and they will love you for it. Essentially, you want bring benefits to people. You can do this through simple tips like remembering people’s names, smiling and sincerely being interested in what other people have to say. All his ideas still apply today.
Probably my favorite technique from this book is the idea of building a “yes” ladder. If you have a different conclusion you would like to lead someone to, don’t disagree with them. Instead emphasize things they can agree with first, slowly bringing the person your point of view.
It’s a strange thing in human psychology that once we admit we agree with something, we feel obligated to keep agreeing. We are always looking to stay consistent with our view of the world. By getting a person to say “yes” to something, you increase the chance they will say “yes” the next time.
People also seem to not understand the nuance of how Carnegie was advising people to act. He didn’t want people to pretend to be interested in other people. He wanted people to develop genuine empathy and love for others so that they really did care. It’s the difference between “doing” and “being” and people can usually tell a mile away when you’re being insincere.
Another major theme of this book is positivity. If you’re a consistently negative person, you’re going to have a very hard time dealing with people. People want to be around good emotions that make them feel better. Think about it, don’t you know people who are so positive that you just love being around them? Those types of people automatically bring value to other people’s lives just by their presence.
Let’s compare that to the negative person. This person always loves to complain and bring down the mood of whatever group they’re in. People don’t want to be around them because they literally feel worse when they do. Further more, it subconsciously shows people that you aren’t able to handle your own life, so how could you ever help them? Always be thinking of how to bring value to people.
Why Does It Suck
If you’re already someone who is a people-pleaser, stay away from this book. You already probably do more than enough of this and need to unlearn always appealing to people’s ego. Also, the fact that just about every modern day self-help guru has read this book means you’ve probably heard the vast majority of the information in this book in one form or another before.
You could also make an argument this kind of information is manipulative. And maybe it is. Maybe all this “genuine empathy” stuff is a lie and we’re all just selfish creatures looking out for ourselves. You’re not authentic, you’re using authenticity as a way to manipulate.
I’m not saying I believe that’s true. But it’s something to think about.
The Wrap Up
Read this book! It didn’t sell 30 million copies out of pure coincidence. I don’t care how good you are with people, everyone can learn something about social dynamics by reading Dale Carnegie.
Buy How to Win Friends and Influence People here on Amazon: