How to win friends and influence people

☰ Sections

How to win friends and influence people

  If there is any one secret of success, it lies in the ability to get the other person’s point of view and see things from that person’s angle as well as from your own.” Henry Ford 

“It changed my life” Warren Buffet, Investor and philanthropist  

 Managing people is probably one of the biggest issues we all face but when Dale Carnegie began teaching his courses in 1912, there were no textbooks to follow. Carnegie talked to some of the world’s greatest inventors – Marconi, Edison as well as Roosevelt and Clark Gable, he tirelessly researched ancient philosophy and biographies to find lessons to share in his lectures. What started as a short talk grew into a longer presentation with a few cards, and then a leaflet, before he wrote the book that went on to become one of the all time classics, selling over 16 million copies in over 30 languages.

With his direct link to live audiences he was able to ask them to go out and test his approach. They told him how their work and personal lives had been transformed. One owner of a 300 strong company used to criticise his workers so much they avoided eye contact but as he applied Carnegie’s techniques his employees became his friends. In turn, he gained a more profitable company, more leisure time, and ultimately more happiness.

Carnegie’s book is full of insights into essential human nature that seem just as relevant today as 80 years ago. As he points out – If you want to know how to make people shun you and laugh at you behind your back or even despise you, here is the recipe: Never listen to anyone for long. Talk incessantly about yourself. If you have an idea while the other person is talking, don’t wait for him or her to finish: bust right in and interrupt in the middle of a sentence.

Any fool can try to defend his mistakes – and most fools do – but it raises one above the herd and gives one a feeling of nobility and exultation to admit one’s mistakes. And – If you are going to prove anything, don’t let anybody know it. Do it so subtly, so adroitly, that no one will feel you are doing it.

He advises readers to keep his book readily accessible and frequently review it as reminder for dealing with all sorts of situations. Carnegie summarises his advice in a nutshell:


For successfully managing people:

As Charles Schwab, president of the United States Steel Company – and one of the first people to be paid a salary of over $1 million – said: ‘I have yet to find the person, however great or exalted his station, who did not do better work and put forth greater effort under a spirit of approval than he would ever do under a spirit of criticism.’

For making people like you:

The renowned Viennese psychologist Alfred Adler emphasises this view – ‘It is the individual who is not interested in his fellow men who has the greatest difficulties in life and provides the greatest injury to others. It is from among such individuals that all human failures spring.’

For winning people to your way of thinking:

Benjamin Franklin was one of the sources for Carnegie’s approach: ‘If you argue and rankle and contradict, you may achieve a victory sometimes; but it will be an empty victory because you will never get your opponent’s goodwill.’

For being a leader:

To illustrate this approach, Carnegie relates the story of a man working for a construction company who had just been told there would be a major delay in bronze work to complete their building, causing huge problems. Instead of berating the supplier he went to visit the owner in person, taking huge interest in his company and craft skills. By the end of the meeting he was promised his bronze ahead of other customers, a much better result than an argument could ever achieve.

Successful people like the investor Warren Buffet are said to live by Carnegie’s rules. Many books have followed Carnegie’s but there must be something fundamentally true about it for it to remain a bestseller for so many years. It certainly worked for the man himself who followed the advice to the end – writing as his own epitaph – ‘Here lies one who knew how to get around him men who were cleverer than himself.’

About the author

Dale Breckenridge Carnegie was born in 1888 and died in 1955. The American writer and lecturer developed many successful courses in self-improvement, salesmanship, corporate training, public speaking and interpersonal skills. Born in poverty on a farm in Missouri, he became a salesman, then a lecturer and actor before having the idea to teach public speaking. He established Dale Carnegie courses that became hugely successful and grew into a worldwide operation. Carnegie’s first collection of writings was Public Speaking: a Practical Course for Business Men (1926), later entitled Public Speaking and Influencing Men in Business (1932). His crowning achievement was How to Win Friends and Influence People – an instant bestseller which has now sold over 16 million copies. By the time of Carnegie’s death, the book had been published in 31 languages, with over 450,000 graduates of the Dale Carnegie Institute.



“The most successful self-help book of all time… Carnegie has never seemed more relevant” The Times

“It’s helped me immeasurably in life….everyone should read it” Jenny Colgan, Independent on Sunday

Book Details

Author: Dale Carnegie

ISBN: 978-0091906818