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Book Review: How to Win Friends and Influence People

I just completed Dale Carnegie’s best-selling book How to Win Friends and Influence People. I’ve been excited for so long to read it as it’s all about psychology.


The book was different in style than what I was expecting. Perhaps because I’ve read many sales books recently like The Challenger Sale and SPIN Selling (review to come). The book was focused from a point-of-view what Dale Carnegie’s identified as effective tactics as well as stories from either his students or great leaders – notably several U.S. Presidents.

Each chapter was a lesson, and as I read the book, I was wondering how I would employ each lesson. However, I realized it’d be too challenging being literal and narrow. Instead, the book could be best understood and employed by collapsing the lessons into broader concepts.

Here are my take-aways then:
  • It’s never about you. Influencing others and creating a positive relationship starts from a place of empathy. Whether someone has done something wrong or has a contentious point, influence needs to come from a place of wanting to learn why the other feels that way. Arguments are never resolved by more arguments. Instead, arguments are resolved from a place of conciliation, coming to the “right” answer by the other (not by arguing to the point of “convincing”), etc.
  • Flattery, praise, and humility go the only way. The book stresses how arguments tend to come from a place of proving selves right. In doing so, the other party can feel embarrassed, guilty, etc. The best way to win friends is to praise others and help guide them to understanding a counterpoint. This way, the other can save face. The other can feel confident and comfortable coming to a conclusion that s/he realized on his/ her own.
  • Make others the model of distinction. No, this does not mean making an example out of someone. Instead, to influence someone, speaking highly of him/ her. Even go so far as to give him/ her a high distinction or responsibility. In this way, the person may live up to the distinction, and thus, be influenced to the act in a desired way. To be told or given the responsibility of being the best, you must be just that – and they’ll try that much more to live up to it.
  • Stay positive. Always. This book stressed positivity in every lesson. This shouldn’t be a surprise, but it reinforces the importance and power of the “simple” positivity. This can start as a smile. This can also include faking a smile. Akin to living up to a high distinction, faking positivity can create positivity.
  • Being supremely tactful is perhaps the best way to start. I can recall several instances recently where I’ve been… less than enthused. There have been times I have argued. Each time, I’ve realized a better way afterwards. Each time, I’ve acted more impulsively. What this book has taught me (or reinforced strongly) is to take a moment and be tactful in the face of disagreements and criticism. I will no doubt feel knee-jerk reactions, but I will have to take a moment think before actions (like the event at the apartment complex recently). With constant practice, I think my knee-jerk reactions will then be more positive and empathetic than today.
Check out the book. Reinforce things you may know, or may not have thought about. But also, take a moment to reflect on how you interact with others and the silent impression you give off.

What and how can you change to create more friends, or be more influential?

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