How To Win Friends And Influence People Review & Summary | Dale Carnegie

Welcome to my How To Win Friends And Influence People Review & Summary by Dale Carnegie. Even though this book was first published back in 1936, the principles taught in this book still remain relevant today. The book has now sold more than 16 million copies. As a salesman at one point in his life, Dale Carnegie made his sales territory the national leader for the firm he worked for. Carnegie eventually ended his sales career and taught public speaking, earning up to $500 every week — the equivalent of $11,800 today. Even Warren Buffet took Carnegie’s course when he was 20.

In his book, Carnegie teaches us techniques and strategies to handle people, how to win people over to your way of thinking and how to be a great leader who others actually want to follow. For example, some leaders and managers just command and treat their staff as working machines. Carnegie talks about techniques that these leaders could use to inspire staff to want to work for them instead. He includes strategies on how to get anyone to listen to you for that matter including your kids, your boss, your friends your staff etc. He talks about how you can fix relationship problems the proper way without either side being offended. Ultimately this book is about truly working with and through people, their emotions, and their pride.

My opinion of ‘How To Win Friends And Influence People’

This is a must read book. Period. Unless your plan to become successful is to fly to the moon and never come back, chances are you will have to deal with other people. I admit the title sounds a bit odd especially because it makes you think the book is for people who don’t have friends. That’s not it at all. How To Win Friends & Influence People helps you with the skill of dealing with people whether that’s at work, in your current relationships or whether it’s your kids. People will just naturally prefer dealing with you. Inspiring and influencing others becomes effortless too.

There are so many different strategies when it comes to dealing with people. My advice when reading this book yourself is to apply as many things as you can. Re-read it and apply more. I’ve actually read this book over 5 times because even though each concept seems like common sense, applying them often requires skill. From this book alone, I now remember most people’s names, avoid arguments as a whole and am the go-to person that people prefer to deal with.

Who I recommend the book to

If you ever felt like people don’t get your point, they know they’re wrong but just want to argue with you anyway. Or if you felt like people don’t listen to your advice the way you want them to. This book is for you. You will learn so much about how people react and why they think and do certain things because of what we do or say. The book will teach you how you can change your own behavior to influence the way others deal with you naturally.

Now, if you would like to read and enjoy the book with no spoilers, feel free to stop reading this post and grab ‘How To Win Friends And Influence People’ by Dale Carnegie here. On the other hand, if you would like to study the book, continue reading below. I will share my in-depth summary and study notes of the book. It’s designed to help you feel like you’ve read the entire book and understand the top key concepts without even actually reading the book. Below I will break down my top 9 Big Ideas from the book.

How To Win Friends And Influence People Summary & Study Notes

Big Idea #1: Throw Down A Challenge

One way to get people to become more excited doing what you want them to do, especially when the work involved is mundane, is to throw down a challenge. Carnegie gives an example of a Manager who had two teams working for him. One at night and one in the morning. The manager goes and writes the number 9 on the board. When the night shift team see the 9 on the board, they ask the manager what it means. The manager then says “it’s the amount of sales the day shift made”. Instantly, the night shift team gets pumped up and work hard to beat it. In this case, the manager didn’t have to incentivize the team with a pay increase or anything. A challenge does the trick.

This goes for your kids too. Saying things like “I bet you can’t clean up your room faster than your brother” will egg them on to do what you want them to without you having to ask and beg for it. My brother in law loves challenges. He’s known in our family to turn almost any task into a challenge. This is how he pumps himself up. Whether it’s washing the dishes to walking the dog to just putting our heads down to do work. Everything is a competition to him. He pulls out our competitive nature and we just do what he proposes. Happily.

Big Idea #2: Give them A Fine Reputation To Live Up To

This is one of my favorite principles that I use frequently. Instead of telling people directly on how they can improve themselves, Carnegie advises giving people a fine reputation to live up to which makes them want to meet those expectations. Telling them directly sometimes backfires because you run the risk of people becoming embarrassed, ashamed or even resentful. So if you want to improve someone in a certain aspect, act as though that particular trait were already one of his or her outstanding qualities.

In fact, Shakespeare once said,

“Assume a virtue, if you have it not.” – Shakespeare

For example, I was dealing with this lady who was known amongst our team to be short tempered. However, I knew that if I could find a way to deal with her better, business would run so much smoother. So what I did was I gave her the reputation of being patient by acting as if she already was a very patient lady. I took every opportunity to praise her patience as long as she was acting only a little more patient than usual. Of course, this only works if you’re being authentic. People can smell inauthenticity.

Slowly as I kept acting as if she was already patient, she actually became more patient. She started to live up to the reputation of being patient because she didn’t want me to be wrong. She acted nicer, easier going and even started negotiating great deals for me on top!

What this principle teaches us is that we can draw a particular trait out of a person and help them become more of it by just believing in them first until they believe it themselves. It’s definitely possible to give another person a new identity through the way we deal with them as also discussed in Dr. Joe Dispenza’s book Breaking The Habit Of Being Yourself.

Big Idea #3: The Yes Yes Rule

When dealing with people, don’t begin with discussing the things you disagree on. Emphasise and keep emphasizing the things that you do agree on. In most cases, the thing that you agree on is the ultimate end goal and the only difference is each of your methods, not the purpose. So to get someone to cooperate, get them to say ‘yes yes’ at the outset. In fact, keep them from saying ‘no’ if you can. That’s because as soon as someone says no, their pride will demand them to remain consistent with themselves. Even if they later realize that their ‘no’ wasn’t the right answer, they still have their pride to consider.

Carnegie gives an example of a bank teller who used the ‘yes yes’ rule to secure a customer who would’ve otherwise been lost. This man came into the bank to open an account but was refusing to answer some personal questions. If the bank teller hadn’t known about the ‘yes yes’ rule he would’ve told the man upfront that the bank would just refuse to accept his account.

However, he asked the man questions like “Suppose you have money in this bank at your death. Wouldn’t you like to have the bank transfer it to your next of kin, who is entitled to it according to law? ” The man said yes. Then the bank teller went on to say “Don’t you think it would be a good idea to give us the name of your next of kin so that, in the event of your death, we could carry out your wishes without error or delay?“Again he said yes. Suddenly the man realizes that the bank wasn’t asking questions for their sake but for his sake. He softened and provided all the information required.

Remember, you should draw out a ‘yes yes’ and avoid any ‘no’ answers. The questions are meant to demonstrate your understanding that you have the same end goal as the other person, but just a different method.

Big Idea #4: Avoid Arguments At All Cost

This seems like a very basic one. But we don’t actually know or get this concept until the day we never have arguments in our lives again. (I’m still working on that). Of course, we can have discussions and talks about a topic, but not arguments where both parties are heated. Because most of the times arguments end like this. Each party is convinced, more than ever that they are absolutely right. It’s counterproductive. In fact, Carnegie believes that we can never win an argument. We can’t win because if we lose, we lose. But if we win, we still lose. Because even if you come out triumphant and get the other person to admit they’re wrong, you’ll feel fine but the other person will feel inferior. You would’ve hurt their pride. They will resent your triumph.

A man convinced against his will is of the same opinion still – Dale Carnegie

And I get that when we’re in the heat of the moment, we just want to be right. But just remember what happens after you’re right. The other person just resents you. It’s not worth it. Carnegie advises that when you feel like an argument is about to break out. This is what you should do instead. First, distrust your first impressions and judgments. Control your temper. Listen first. Look for areas of agreement and study the other person’s idea carefully. Then postpone action to give both sides time to think through the problem. Only come back when you’re ready to discuss the matter, instead of having an argument.

Big Idea #5:  Smile & Remember To Use Their Name

Smiling is contagious. If you smile, the other person smiles back. It changes people’s mood. Try being in a bad mood while smiling. You’d probably feel silly and just laugh at yourself anyway. Smiling is also for yourself as much as it is for others. This is the book that advises us on smiling while being on the phone because it instantly makes you sound happier. In a nutshell, smiling is underrated. It costs nothing but goes a long way.

When Carnegie re-convinced me of the importance of smiling, I consciously smiled even more. I already did smile but I realized that my smile was a half-assed one. Now, if would meet me, I’d start grinning at you. A real proper grin. Trust me, you can’t help but grin back.

Let’s combine this with the principle of remembering people’s name. Carnegie says

A person’s name is to that person the sweetest and most important sound in any language – Dale Carnegie

And let’s face it. How many times do you introduce yourself to people knowing at the back of your mind that they’ll forget your name anyway? Especially when you’re at an event with a lot of people. But imagine if there’s this one person who just happens to remember your name. You instantly assume that this person remembers everything else about you. In fact, you don’t even care if they don’t remember everything else because you definitely assume that they care about you. That’s the power of names.

If I told you it means a lot to people if you remember their name, you’d make a bigger conscious effort to remember it. And don’t worry if you think you’re ‘bad with names’. I thought too. But I also thought I needed to become good at it. So I learnt how.

Big Idea #6: Talk About Your Own Mistake First Before Criticizing Others

This is rarely practiced. There are so many times when we become frustrated at people, people close to us and we blatantly say things like “Why would you do that for?” Or “Don’t do that next time”. No matter how nice or polite we put this, our voice and face still show that we’re frustrated which makes the other person feel bad.

Carnegie teaches that we should first let others know that we are also susceptible to mistakes and are not perfect. Practicing to talk about our own mistakes first also forces us to put ourselves in the other person’s shoes. Maybe we’re expecting them to be like us when the truth is that everyone is different. Everyone is brought up differently and is exposed to different experiences.  In fact, admitting your own mistakes first (even when you haven’t corrected them yourself), can still convince the other person to change their behavior.

An example of this includes this one family whose father and son were both smokers. The father expressed to his son all the mistakes he had made and how much he regretted smoking and how this had affected his life negatively. Even while the father was still a smoker, the son was persuaded to quit smoking himself.

Big Idea #7: Be A Good Listener And Let Them Talk

You know when you meet new people and get nervous because you don’t know what to talk about? Carnegie argues that you don’t need to. As in, you don’t need to get nervous. Because you don’t even need to talk. All you need to do is listen.

This may sound counterintuitive for some people because we usually think that to have a great conversation, we need to be interested and talk about interesting things. But haven’t you ever had those conversations where the other person talks for most of the time? How did you feel? Chances are you also wanted to talk. It’s because fundamentally we all want to be understood. The feeling of being understood is what we as humans crave. And talking just gives us a greater chance to be understood.

A great example of this was when I met a guy named Peter. Peter was a more reserved kind of person. And before this, if I had met guys like Peter, I would do the talking, thinking that I’d be doing him a favor. But this time I let him talk. I drew out his talkative side by showing honest interest in the conversation, giving comments here and there but most of the time just asking questions. That night, Peter told me that it was one of the most interesting conversations he ever had. He even praised me for being one of the most interesting people he’s ever met. I was shocked because I didn’t even say much. All I did was listen.

Carnegie teaches us that people love to be understood and love to express themselves. You just need to draw that out of them by being a good listener. The importance of being a great listener is also one of the 7 Habits Of Highly Effective People in Stephen R. Covey’s book.

Big Idea #8: Let The Other Person Feel That The Idea Is Theirs

Most of us don’t like being told what to do. Don’t you feel much more at ease when you come up with an idea yourself rather than if someone hands you an idea? Knowing this, we can get people to cooperate much easier if we make it seem like it’s their idea in the first place. We do this by asking open ended questions that guide the other person to the answer themselves.

Carnegie gives an example of a sales manager who needed to inject enthusiasm back into his team. He called for a team meeting and asked his team what they expected of him. One by one he wrote the answers on the board. Then he turned around and said “I’ll give you all these qualities you expect from me. Now I want you to tell me what I have a right to expect from you”. The team was quick to reply things like loyalty, honesty, initiative, optimism etc. Because they came up with the idea themselves, they were more willing to execute it.

I also used Carnegie’s principle. Back when I was in corporate, I wanted to convince my manager to change our work plan because it could mean a lot less work for me and the team. At the same time, I knew that management’s greatest concern was producing quality work to impress our new client. I planted the seed by casually dropping the line during a team meeting: “Say if we could be more productive, where do you think we could cut back our time?” This started the discussion and I would continuously ask questions especially to my manager. By answering each question she started to negotiate with herself and convince herself that we needed to cut back on time. Eventually, she came up with the exact idea that I wanted. It was great. If I told her my idea directly, I would’ve been faced with more objections.

Big Idea #9: Praise The Slightest Improvement And Praise Every Improvement

By noticing and praising every small and minor improvement, we encourage the other person to continue improving. This does not exactly mean to praise achievements. If an employee did a shitty job and they know it’s not perfect,  if you say “hey perfect job, man!” they’ll learn that all your praises are fluff. That won’t work. So it’s not about recognizing the outcome or accomplishment, it’s about recognizing the effort and the improvement even if it’s ever so small.

In fact, this is how one of the most famous opera singers – Enrico Caruso became successful. Despite people telling him he doesn’t have what it takes to become a singer, his mum took every opportunity to express that she saw him improving ever so slightly. She praised little improvements every single time. What happened was he became obsessed with just improving. He wasn’t even good at singing yet, compared to the average. But his mom’s praises changed his life and he eventually became one of the most sought after opera singers.

This is actually what happened to me. My sister used to praise every little improvement I had when it came to making videos. When I first started, I only took daily vlogs. And with every vlog, my sister would tell me what I improved on specifically. She’d always tell me things like “hey your tonality in this video is better than yesterday’s”, or “I like your energy this week” “or your hand movements are becoming more natural now”.Whatever it was, I didn’t really care that I wasn’t as good as the top YouTubers right now, the mere act of improving my filming skills excited me. And that’s how I eventually started public speaking.

Often we’re too quick to tell people exactly what they do wrong, that we forget to praise what they do right – even if it’s the smallest of improvements. Praising improvements is almost like having a magic wand that turns amateurs into prodigies. Imagine having a team full of prodigies. So instead of pointing out what people do wrong, praise what they do right even if it’s just ever so slightly. This will allow them to shift gears, become obsessed with improving themselves and eventually turn into an absolute gun.


Dale Carnegie’s How To Win Friends And Influence People reviews methods that allow other people to want to do things for you. For them to want to change. This is the definition of influencing others instead of forcing them. Carnegie is all about changing our own behavior and allowing other people to do whatever they want out of their own free will. This is the most effective way to deal with people. Mastering these skills is a must. Hence as always, here’s your action plan for it:

Your How To Win Friends And Influence People Action Plan

  1. Make a conscious effort to praise improvements. Whenever you want someone to improve on something – don’t tell them directly. Sometimes it’s not even a big deal until we point it out. Just praise the slightest improvement of that trait. And praise every improvement.
  2. Talk about your own mistake first. Next time you want to give someone feedback, first start off by talking about your own mistake first. For example, you could start off with “Hey, just to let you know when I first learned this, I did the exact same mistake. So it’s no big deal”. Then you insert the feedback.
  3. Avoid arguments at all cost. First, understand the other person’s point of view and then suggest to postpone the discussion. Wait until you’re both less heated and discuss the topic without arguing.

Remember, Carnegie’s principles is all about influencing others by taking indirect actions. Often telling people to do something directly doesn’t work anymore because people are sick of being told what to do. With regards to feedback, ff course, when you know with 100% certainty that giving someone feedback directly will not hurt their pride,  telling them directly would be the most efficient. But often it’s never 100% (apart from if you’re very close to you). And it’s not worth the risk.

So if you enjoyed this review and summary and would like to grab a copy of How To Win Friends And Influence People, please support me by grabbing the book by clicking here. (This is an affiliate link in which I’ll get paid a few bucks)

Your support means a lot and it will help me continue writing more reviews and summaries. Also, please leave an honest feedback below in the comment section sharing what you thought about the book and how you’re going to apply Carnegie’s principles of dealing with people. It would be interesting to see which principles are actually common practice.

That’s it from me and I’ll talk to you soon,


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