How to Win Friends and Influence People (Summary)


How to Win Friends and Influence People (Summary)

Dale Carnegie was a salesman-turned-educator in the early twentieth century. His classes primarily helped people become comfortable with public speaking. Part of his success stemmed from his mindset: making people happy while benefitting yourself. In How to Win Friends and Influence People, we learn how to get what we need while helping others in the process.

This book was first released in the late 1930’s, has been revised, and is still wildly relevant today. It is broken up into several parts and principles which happen to make it fun and easy to read again and again. Re-reading the book was recommended by Carnegie himself because, well, practice makes perfect.

Benefits of Reading How to Win Friends and Influence People

To help you become a successful businessperson is one of the goals of this book but general self-improvement is another. Here’s a short list of what you can expect to take away from this read:


  • New ideas, perceptiveness, and goals.
  • The ability to turn interactions with strangers into friendships.
  • Increased self-confidence and likability.
  • Techniques of persuasion.
  • The ability to receive and give criticism calmly and steer clear of arguments.
  • The skills to entertain and intrigue recipients of public conversation.
  • How to apply basic psychology to your own life as well as to the lives of others.


Successful, healthy relationships are mutually beneficial, not parasitic, in nature. With as much as we expect from others, we should be able to give back just as much, if not more.

Before going around and telling everyone what to do, consider improving your own mentality and life. After reading How to Win Friends and Influence People, it should be easy to analyze yourself, make improvements, and make people willing to help you.

There are four main parts to this book but six, in total. The final two parts essentially encourage us to remember and use the first parts learned in our home lives. Within each of these parts are principles to live by. Stick to these guidelines and you’re basically guaranteed to impress anyone you converse with.

Part One: Fundamental Techniques in Handling People

At first, we look at human interaction and instinct. It becomes apparent that we tend to appreciate approval and despise criticism. It’s human nature to attempt to refuse responsibility for our own wrongdoings.

Instead of scolding people, look into the cause of their misbehavior. Many people simply do not feel understood and will be more likely to listen if they’re listened to… which brings us to the first, second, and third principles in the first part:

  • Criticism, condemnation, and complaints will not yield positive results.

These actions will, most likely, make someone dread doing anything for us. People enjoy being praised. People enjoy doing things they want to do. In this part, we learn how to encourage people to want to do something without being negative.

  • Appreciation and encouragement result in enthusiasm.

Flattering someone may boost their ego but it doesn’t greatly benefit anyone else. Most of us wish to be truly appreciated and successful in whatever we choose to do.

  • Enthusiasm stems from encouraging someone to continue being great at whatever it is they’re doing.

Part Two: Six Ways to Make People Like You

Instead of focusing on why people may not like us, we learn to win them over. Becoming likable takes a bit of work when you aren’t naturally pleasant but, with a little practice, you can become popular.

  • Take interest in people and their interests.

It isn’t easy to put our own desires, interests, and ideas on a shelf but it is essential in learning about someone else. When you take the time to get to know them, they will be more interested in getting to know you.

  • Display your happiness.

The easiest way to do this is by wearing a genuine smile. Smiling is surprisingly contagious and it’s not common to see a stranger doing it first. Be the stranger that smiles and shares your happiness. Even if you aren’t happy at first, smiling will help you make it come into reality.

  • Remember names and how important they are to the individual.

Though it is difficult to remember the name of every person we meet, professional relationships will thrive from a first-name basis. Being called by their name reminds others that they are valued, which encourages them to appreciate us.

  • Listen thoroughly.

When someone is encouraged to talk about themselves, they will feel more comfortable with us. Many people do not feel listened to and would benefit from a change of pace. Benefitting them by listening benefits our business and ourselves.

  • When you do speak, keep other peoples’ interests in mind.

Knowing and mentioning your audience’s interests will make you an engaging, entertaining conversationalist or public speaker. While making a point, make it relatable or amusing.

  • Help others feel important.

Don’t give them a false sense of understanding, though. Do your best to find a way to show them your appreciation for whatever they have done and can do for you.

Part Three: How to Win People to Your Way of Thinking

There are twelve principles in this part, all of which will help you develop a beneficial partnership, friendship, or relationship.

  • Steer clear of arguments.

Arguing does more damage than it’s worth and often starts because of a misunderstanding. Control your calm and find things to agree on. Being tactful can turn an argument back into a conversation.

  • Respect the opinions of someone else.

We do not have to agree with their point but, in order to get what we want, we need to be able to understand and respect it. No one likes to be told that their opinions don’t matter.

  • Empathy and the willingness to admit fault will earn respect.

It’s hard to admit we’ve done something wrong but the ability to do so will intrigue others. When you’re the first to admit you’ve messed up, people will be more likely to admire your character.

  • Be approachable and friendly.

It would be difficult to get what you need if you’re shouting obscenities at someone. A calm, collected person will win more people over than an angry one will.

  • Make it easy to for others to agree with you.

Bringing up common interests and ideas allows for a positive experience. When it comes to speaking publicly, getting a crowd to say “yes” gets them to see your perspective quickly.

  • Let people talk until they are comfortable.

Regardless of whether or not you agree with what they’re saying, allow them the freedom of expression.

  • Let someone assume responsibility for an idea.

We are proud creatures. We enjoy “being right.” In light of this, we will have happier customers if they feel as though they’ve personally chosen to buy the product we intend to sell before we make our pitch.

  • Place yourself in someone else’s perspective.

It isn’t easy, especially if you don’t see eye-to-eye, but it is personal. Instead of condemning or criticizing their beliefs, do your best to understand them. If you manage to understand them, you may understand how to convince them to see your point.

  • Sympathy goes a long way.

A large number of people desire sympathy and understanding. Try to see things as that person sees them. Even if you can’t agree, sympathizing with them will encourage them to trust your intentions.

  • Let your public reasoning be respectable.

Our reason for doing something might not be as respectable as our publicity. If you can, in any way, appeal to the crowd in a noble way, do so.

  • So many people love dramatization.

We don’t have to be dishonest to dramatize things. The showier we are, the more attention we gain. If you are able to amplify the situation, you’ll be more interesting to your audience.

  • Challenge people to show their worth.

We’re not meant to do this in a negative manner. Once someone feels appreciated, they’ll probably be willing to compete with others to prove their greatness. This kind of healthy competition encourages people to excel in what they’re good at.

Part Four: Be a Leader: How to Change People Without Giving Offense or Arousing Resentment

Part four lists nine ways to shape our followers’ attitudes and actions without invoking anger.

  • Praise and appreciate them.

If you have to be a bit negative, start out with plenty of positivity. Let them know how much good they’ve done for you or your cause. If you feel as though your business could not thrive without them, make them aware of that.

  • Indirectly point out a person’s mistake.

An easy way to do this is by avoiding statements that make people question your sincerity. Instead of saying “you’re a good cook but you don’t make good drinks,” try saying “I enjoy your cooking immensely and can’t wait to see how your drink-making improves over time.”

  • Admit that you have imperfections before pointing out someone else’s.

We’re more likely to respect people who aren’t afraid to get their hands dirty, even in the world of business. If you can admit your own faults, you can encourage someone to grow from their own.

  • Ask for something instead of demanding it.

Most of us don’t want to be bossed around. Asking someone if they think it’d be a good idea to try things a certain way (and hearing them out) before requesting that they do it your way will deter someone from feeling disrespected.

  • Don’t humiliate people.

It’s, unfortunately, easier to offend and belittle people than we’d like to admit. While some are hard to get through to, some are unbelievable easy to embarrass. This will not give you or your business what you need. Let them explain themselves without you insinuating anything hurtful.

  • Don’t be stingy with words of praise.

If you’ve noticed someone making improvements, regardless of how great or small, let them know that you are aware. Let them know how much you appreciate their efforts. They’re likely to continue striving for greatness if they’re reminded of their progress.

  • Build the professional foundation for a person’s reputation.

If something has a strong foundation, it’s less likely to fall apart. When you’ve gotten to know someone’s habits, build on their strengths in order to successfully confront (and encourage them to change) their weaknesses.

  • Encouragement makes it easier to accept our mistakes.

Encourage someone while pointing out their mistakes. Make the path to correcting these errors seem easy and fun to take. When a person feels discouraged, their levels of motivation tend to drop. Keep their motivation up by reminding them of their value to you despite their oversights.

  • Make people eager to meet your expectations.

Request, recognize, and reward. Request something, recognize the person’s efforts and success, and reward them appropriately. Oftentimes, if you give the person respect and insight as to what their reward may be, they’ll enthusiastically carry out the task you requested.

If you are interested in reading one of the original prints, part five includes letters that are used as examples of successful business relationships. It focuses on the value of wordplay and how to personally encourage people to help us achieve our goals.

Part six focuses solely on improving our life at home with the information we’ve gathered from the rest of this writing. Politeness and courtesy basically demand the same in return. In some ways, the saying “you reap what you sow” is relevant here.

How to Win Friends and Influence People has proven time and time again that patience and understanding will grant you more power than a booming voice and a strong fist will.

Even if you’re not into business, this book provides insight into human nature and how we can benefit from learning why people say and do the opposite of what we expect… and how to successfully get what we want and need from them.