How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie

How to Win Friends and Influence PeopleInformation

Goodreads: How to Win Friends and Influence People
Series: None
Source: Library
Published: 1937

Official Summary

This grandfather of all people-skills books was first published in 1937. It was an overnight hit, eventually selling 15 million copies. How to Win Friends and Influence People is just as useful today as it was when it was first published, because Dale Carnegie had an understanding of human nature that will never be outdated. Financial success, Carnegie believed, is due 15 percent to professional knowledge and 85 percent to “the ability to express ideas, to assume leadership, and to arouse enthusiasm among people.” He teaches these skills through underlying principles of dealing with people so that they feel important and appreciated. He also emphasizes fundamental techniques for handling people without making them feel manipulated. Carnegie says you can make someone want to do what you want them to by seeing the situation from the other person’s point of view and “arousing in the other person an eager want.” You learn how to make people like you, win people over to your way of thinking, and change people without causing offense or arousing resentment. For instance, “let the other person feel that the idea is his or hers,” and “talk about your own mistakes before criticizing the other person.” Carnegie illustrates his points with anecdotes of historical figures, leaders of the business world, and everyday folks. –Joan Price


This book was written in the 1930s and the edition I read was updated in the 1980s to add some more current references and anecdotes.  Overall, the book has some decent advice, particularly if you need to make a good initial impression, to sell someone something, or need to figure out how to be a more pleasant socializer in general, but it does still feel slightly dated.

The book is divided into four main categories:

  1. Fundamental Techniques in Handling People
  2. Six Ways to Make People Like You
  3. How to Win People to Your Way of Thinking
  4. Be a Leader: How to Change People without Giving Offense or Arousing Resentment

Each part does have specialized suggestions, but some parts do overlap.  The general trend of the book is “make people feel important” and “make them see what benefit they would get from listening to you.”  A lot of this, then, is advice geared towards employers (how to get more productive workers) and salespeople (how to get people to to buy your product), though Carnegie does make a point of giving examples of how people used the techniques to improve their personal lives, such as having more productive conversations with their spouses or children or getting someone to renegotiate a bill they owe. And some advice is just genuinely good if you do want friends or want to be thought as a pleasant person at gatherings: remember people’s names, show interest in them and their interests, try to see things from their point of view before becoming argumentative, etc.

However, even though Carnegie includes anecdotes from women who implemented the techniques to get what they want, I do feel the book is largely from a male point of view.  Carnegie makes all types of suggestions that will probably contribute to the problems that many women currently complain about facing in today’s workplace: people take credit for their ideas, people think they’re pushovers, etc.  Carnegie specifically advocates never telling people directly that they are wrong, using “I feel” or “I believe” statements so as to avoid confrontation, and occasionally letting people take your ideas and think they are their ideas if it gets the job done.  Some of these approaches could be reasonable in short interactions (ex. trying to sell someone you’re not going to see that often a product), but I would hesitate at implementing it long term myself.

The book is also largely anecdotal, which I think is often what makes nonfiction interesting. but I believe that a similar book published today would take a more scientific approach, probably citing studies and research that has been done on what makes people think the way they do, what motivates them to change their mind on a topic, etc.  I would have loved to see surveys, statistics, studies, etc. here.

Bottom line: There are definitely things to learn in this book. For instance, if you’re that guy who talks over everyone and always brags about his own accomplishments, this book could definitely be eye-opening to you with its suggestions that you should actually express interest in other people and stop talking about yourself all the time.  It can probably help you reconsider how to motivate reluctant workers or children.  But I do think there are times you need to be firm with people, acknowledge their faults, etc., and this book does not fully address these issues because it’s so busy suggesting that readers be constantly pleasant, which might backfire in some situations.



10 thoughts on “How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie

  1. alilovesbooks says:

    I have to admit I haven’t read this mostly because I don’t like the sound of it. It sounds very much to me that it advocates pretending to be someone you’re not and essentially manipulating people to get them to do what you want. People always see through this in my opinion, some quicker than others, but you’ll end up losing their trust. Possibly ok in short term as you say but not really a strategy for life.

    Have you read Feminist Fight Club? I thought it had some really great advice for women in the workplace and doesn’t advocate letting others take credit for your ideas.

    Great review.


    • Krysta says:

      Yeah, the problem seems to be that it takes something genuine–a person’s interest in other people or ability to make them feel important–and tells its readers to fake interest in other people. Ideally, I suppose, your fake interest would turn into real interest, but it seems like it might be difficult for some people to keep up this facade forever. Imagine thinking someone was charming and interested in you only to realize that once they’re in a different setting, they’re a totally different person! Unfortunately, I’ve known far too many falsely charming men to find this advice to my taste. Discovering that they were faking this advice from a book would make me NOT like someone, I think!

      I’ve never heard of Feminist Fight Club, but it sounds like a far better read! Thanks for the recommendation!

      (Also, men taking credit for my ideas is one of the things that annoys me the most. I can’t help but wonder. Do they KNOW they’ve just repeated my idea like it was their own? Or are they so self-absorbed that they actually don’t realize I just said the exact same thing and they believe the words are theirs?)

      Liked by 1 person

      • alilovesbooks says:

        I have automatically don’t trust anyone who seems too charming and polished. They will usually be the first to stab you in the back or take all the credit.

        Sometimes I think men actually believe they’re doing you a favour by repeating your idea. Unfortunately because they don’t just say listen to the great idea such and such has had it ends up being accredited to them and they don’t see an issue with this.


        • Krysta says:

          Seems like a wise move to me.

          Yes, if I wanted to make sure someone else’s idea was acknowledged, I would begin by saying something like, “I agree with X that we should…” I don’t understand why you would just simply repeat their words!

          Liked by 1 person

  2. TeacherofYA says:

    I know someone who read this book and she used all the tips…it got kind of creepy bc I knew what she was doing. But I do think it’s a good guide for people who lack “people” skills or self-confidence at the get, and the book will help them fake it til they make it. You know?
    Apparently, things haven’t changed much since the 30s!


    • Krysta says:

      That does seem a little odd. I agree with the general idea that acting interested in other people generally makes someone more likable. But I think that it has to be a genuine interest. If you knew that the person was faking interest in you to make themselves more likable, I rather think that the reverse effect might occur!

      Liked by 1 person

    • Briana says:

      I think I actually saw a review on Goodreads a while ago where someone complained that they followed all the advice–and it was kind of working out–but they felt unbelievably fake. I get why so many of the examples were about sales people and short term interactions. I do think it can be useful for people who are really lacking social skills, but, yeah, implementing the whole thing in a step-by-step process is probably a bit much.


  3. Krysta says:

    This really does sound like it was written for men. I don’t think women need a book to remind them that they’re supposed to be constantly pleasant. Women get that message all the time! I routinely see men aggressively pushing their ideas or telling people that they’re wrong in a very (to me) rude manner. I am completely aware that I, as a woman, could never do the same things or use the same language these men are! I already know that I have to be very circumspect in telling people that they’re wrong and that I have to smooth over all the rough edges. Not doing so would not make me “assertive” but rather a…well, you know.


    • Briana says:

      Yeah, that was really my impression. It seems like you’d end up looking like a pushover as a woman if you did half of the stuff suggested, whereas it actually might men seem friendlier and more approachable.

      Liked by 1 person

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