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How to Win Friends and Influence People [Book Summary]

The most successful leaders all have one thing in common: They've read How to Win Friends and Influence People.

As a salesman at one point in his life, author 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, one of the most successful investors of the 20th century, took Carnegie's course at age 20.

Fortunately for us, all the same lessons were packaged into the now famous book,How to Win Friends and Influence People.

But how do we find time to read and remember all 214 pages?

Most of us don't. The book becomes another item on that backlog of to-dos we never seem to go to. That's why we summarized the entire book for you. In fact, here is a quick snapshot of all 30 principles. 

(click to enlarge)

To capture the full lessons behind each of Carnegie's principles (which are listed below), jump or scroll down for quick summaries, tweet-worthy quotes, and practice exercises.

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


Principle Overview:

World famous psychologist B.F. Skinner proved that an animal rewarded for good behavior will learn much faster and retain what it learns far more effectively than an animal punished for bad behavior.

Since then, further studies have shown that this same principle applies to humans as well: Criticizing others doesn’t yield anything positive.

We aren’t able to make real changes by criticizing people, and we’re instead often met with resentment. It’s important to remember that when dealing with people, we’re dealing not with creatures of logic, but with creatures of emotion, who are motivated by pride and ego.


Criticism is futile because it puts a person on the defensive and usually makes them strive to justify themselves.



Practice Principle 1:

Do you know someone you would like to change in some way? When you find yourself getting caught up in other people’s annoying habits or behaviors, think of a few reasons they might be acting the way they are.  

Say to yourself, “I should forgive them for this because …” and conclude this sentence with an open mind. You’ll be in a much better position to hold back from criticizing.  

HBR Resource: Candor, Criticism, Teamwork

Principle Overview:

The only way we can get a person to do anything is by giving them what they want.  What do most people want?

Health, food, sleep, money, sex. Most of these wants are usually gratified, but there is one longing, almost as deep and ingrained as the desire for food or sleep, that is seldom gratified: the desire to be important.


The deepest principle in human nature is the craving to be appreciated.


We tend to take the people in our lives for granted so often that we neglect to let them know that we appreciate them. We must be careful to keep in mind the difference between appreciation and flattery, which seldom works with discerning people, as it is shallow, selfish and insincere.  

Flattery comes from the tongue; appreciation comes from the heart.

Day in and day out, we spend most of our time thinking about ourselves. But if we stop thinking about ourselves for a bit and start thinking about other people’s strengths, we wouldn’t have to resort to cheap flattery and we could offer honest, sincere appreciation.  

With words of true appreciation, we have the power to completely change another person’s perception of themselves, improve their motivation, and be a driving force behind their success. When you think about it like that - when we have nothing to lose and only positive outcomes to gain - why wouldn’t we offer genuine appreciation more often?

Principle Overview:

Perhaps your favorite dessert is strawberry cheesecake. Excellent choice! Now, if you were to go fishing, would you bait your hook with cheesecake? Of course not -- that’s what you like, but fish prefer worms.  

Lloyd George, Great Britain’s Prime Minister during World War I, who stayed in power long after the other wartime leaders had been forgotten, was asked how he managed to remain on top. His response: He had learned that it is necessary to “bait the hook to suit the fish.”  

In other words, give people what they want, not what you want.


"Of course, you are interested in what you want. But no one else is. The rest of us are just like you: we are interested in what we want."

Dale Carnegie

This principle is absolutely key in influencing others.  

To convince someone to do something, we have to frame it in terms of what motivates them. And in order to do that, we have to be able to see things from their point of view as well as our own.  

Most salespeople spend a lifetime selling without seeing things from the customer’s angle, wondering why they’re not successful as they completely ignore the customer’s needs.  

If we can put aside our own thoughts, opinions, and wants, and truly see things from another person’s perspective, we will be able to convince them that it is in their best interest to do whatever it is we’re after.


"The world is full of people who are grabbing and self-seeking. So the rare individual who unselfishly tries to serve others has an enormous advantage. He has little competition."

Dale Carnegie

Practice Principle 3:

Next time you want to persuade someone to do something, before you speak, pause and ask yourself, “How can I make this person want to do it? How can I frame this in terms of her wants?”

When you’re writing an email that contains a request, try replacing “I” and “my” with “you” and “your” as much as possible. Craft your language to make it about them.

Entrepreneur Resource: 9 Habits of Persuasive Business LeadersSix-Ways-to-Make-People-Like-You

We are often tempted to argue with others, especially when we are absolutely convinced that we’re right about something. But even if we are right, what does arguing about it yield? Why prove someone else wrong? Is that going to make the person like us? Why not just let him save face, if we have nothing to gain from it but “feeling” superior?  

Not to mention, nine times out of 10, arguing just results in the other person even more firmly convinced that he is right.  

According to Carnegie, it’s impossible to win an argument. If we lose the argument, we lose; if we win the argument, we have made the other person feel inferior, hurt his pride, and made him resent us. In other words, we still lose.


"There is only one way under high heaven to get the best of an argument - and that is to avoid it."

Dale Carnegie

What if, instead of arguing with someone, we admit their importance through appreciation? This can expand the other person’s ego so he can then become sympathetic and kind.

To keep a disagreement from becoming an argument, we can:

  • Welcome the disagreement. If the other person is raising a point we haven’t considered, we can be thankful it’s brought to our attention. It may save us from making a mistake.
  • Distrust our first instinctive impression. Our natural reaction to a disagreeable situation is to become defensive. We should keep calm and watch out for how we first react.
  • Control our temper. Only negative outcomes result from a bad temper.
  • Listen first. We can give our opponents a chance to talk without interrupting, and let them finish without resisting, defending, or debating.
  • Look for areas of agreement. Surface those first.
  • Be honest. Look for areas where we can admit error and apologize for our mistakes. This helps reduce defensiveness.
  • Promise to think over our opponents’ ideas and study them carefully. And mean it. Thank our opponents sincerely for their interest. If they’re taking the time to argue with us, they’re interested in the same things we are.
  • Postpone action to give both sides time to think through the problem. In the meantime, ask ourselves honestly if our opponents might be right, or partly right.

Next time you find yourself in a disagreement with someone, don’t respond with criticism or a negative email. Instead, sleep on it. You’d be surprised how much perspective you can gain by giving yourself a bit of time to think the situation over.

Grammar Resource: Negative Words to Avoid in Writing

Along similar lines of not engaging in arguments, we should also avoid telling someone that they’re plain wrong. If we begin by announcing that we’re going to prove something to someone, we’re essentially telling them that we are smarter than they are and we’re going to teach them a thing or two.

This comes off as a challenge. It arouses opposition and incites in the other person a desire to battle with us. 


"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."

Dale Carnegie

 Even when we’re talking on the phone, our smile comes through in our voices.  

Carnegie tells a story of a computer department manager who was desperately trying to recruit a PhD for his department. He finally found the perfect candidate, but the boy also had offers from much larger and better known companies. When the boy told the manager that he was choosing his company, the manager asked why.  

The boy explained: "I think it was because managers in the other companies spoke on the phone in a cold business-like manner, which made me feel like just another business transaction. Your voice sounded as if you were glad to hear from me … that you really wanted me to be part of your organization."  

A simple smile can go a long way.

Practice Principle 2:

This one is simple: Challenge yourself to smile at someone every hour of the day for a full week.

Principle Overview:

A person's name is a very powerful thing - it's an embodiment of that person's identity. It's a reference to them. So remembering and using someone's name is a great way to make that person feel important.


"The average person is more interested in his or her own name than in all the other names on earth put together."

Dale Carnegie

Calling someone by their name is like paying them a very subtle compliment. Conversely, forgetting or misspelling someone's name can have the opposite effect and make it feel as though we are distant and disinterested in them.  

Remembering and using people's names is also a critical component of good leadership. The executive who can't remember his employees' names can't remember a significant part of his business, and is operating on quicksand.  

Yet, most people don't remember names for the simple reason that they don't put in the effort to. We make excuses that we are too busy. We are introduced to a stranger and forget his name only a few minutes later.


"The information we are imparting or the request we are making takes on a special importance when we approach the situation with the name of the individual. From the waitress to the senior executive, the name will work magic as we deal with others."

Dale Carnegie

Practice Principle 3:

Next time you meet someone new, make a sincere effort to remember her name. Repeat her name several times and try to associate it in your mind with her features or expression, or something you've learned about her.

If it is an uncommon name, ask her to repeat it or spell it for you. Then write it down later so you can visualize the name too.

Free Tool: Just as asking someone to repeat their name for the fifth time can be taken as frustrating, so can asking "have you seen my email yet?" With Sidekick, you can see when your emails are opened and avoid having to irk recipients with continuous probing.

Principle Overview:

Carnegie explains that he once attended a dinner party where he met a botanist whom he found to be absolutely fascinating. He listened for hours with excitement as the botanist spoke of exotic plants and indoor gardens, until the party ended and everyone left.  

Before leaving, the botanist told the host of the dinner party that Carnegie was a “most interesting conversationalist” and gave him several compliments.  

Of course, Carnegie had hardly said anything at all. What he had done was listen intently. He listened because he was genuinely interested.  

“And so I had him thinking of me as a good conversationalist when, in reality, I had been merely a good listener and had encouraged him to talk,” Carnegie notes.

Even the most ill-tempered person, the most violent critic, will often be subdued in the presence of a patient, sympathetic listener.  

Take for example, a store clerk. If the clerk constantly interrupts and irritates customers, those customers are more likely to start arguments and bring frustrations and complaints to the store manager. But a clerk who is willing to listen could calm even a customer who storms in already angry.  

Most of us are so concerned with what we are going to say next that we don’t truly listen when someone else is speaking. Yet, most people would prefer a good listener to a good talker.


"If you want to know how to make people shun you and laugh at you behind your back and 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."

Dale Carnegie

Remember that the people we are talking to are a hundred times more interested in themselves and their own problems than they are in us and our problems.

Practice Principle 4:

Next time you have a conversation, pay attention to how much of the conversation is you talking vs. the other person talking. How much listening are you doing?

Aim to do 75% listening and 25% talking.

As you practice this, pay attention to what causes you to jump in with more talking. Are you filling awkward silences? Do you tend to get carried away when you tell stories or share ideas? Think of some ways you can encourage the other person to do more of the sharing.

Principle Overview:

We now understand that people like to talk about themselves and have others be interested in them. The next best thing to talking about themselves is talking about the things that they enjoy.  

Whenever Theodore Roosevelt expected a visitor, he would stay up late the night before, reading up on whatever subject he knew particularly interested his guest. And that is because Roosevelt was keenly aware of the following idea:


"The royal road to a person’s heart is to talk about the things he or she treasures most."

Theodore Roosevelt

Carnegie describes a story from a man named Edward Chalif, who was planning to ask the president of one of the largest corporations in America to pay for his son to go on a Boy Scout trip.  

Before Mr. Chalif went to see him, he had heard that this man had drawn up a check for a million dollars, and that after it was canceled, he had had it framed. Upon meeting the man, he mentioned how much he admired the check and would love to see it.  

The man was thrilled! He talked about the check for some time, until he realized he hadn’t asked why Mr. Chalif was there to see him. When Mr. Chalif mentioned his request, the man agreed without any questions and even offered to fund the trip for several other boys as well.  

Mr. Chalif later explained, “If I hadn’t found out what he was interested in, and got him warmed up first, I wouldn’t have found him one-tenth as easy to approach.”  

Talking in terms of the other person’s interests benefits both parties.

How often do we notice someone who looks very down, or bored - perhaps someone whose job is very repetitive or someone whose boss doesn’t give him or her much recognition? Maybe it’s a store clerk, or the mailman, or our hair dresser. What could we say to that person to cheer them up?  

We could think of something about them that we honestly admire. This might sometimes be difficult with a stranger, but we should push ourselves to think of something, and mention it to them.  

When Carnegie describes having this type of interactions with a stranger, he notes that many people have asked him what he was trying to get out of the person. His response:


"If we are so contemptibly selfish that we can’t radiate a little happiness and pass on a bit of honest appreciation without trying to get something out of the other person in return - if our souls are no bigger than sour crab apples, we shall meet with the failure we so richly deserve."

Dale Carnegie

In other words, we should all be happy - and excited - to do something for someone else when they can’t do anything for us in return. As we’ve reiterated throughout each of these principles, the one all-important law of human conduct is to always make the other person feel important.  

And just as the Golden Rule states, “Do unto others as you would have others do unto you.”

Practice Principle 6:

Find someone who doesn’t appear to be having a good day - perhaps a demotivated colleague, an overworked waitress, or a man selling newspapers on the corner. Go out of your way to offer words of kindness to that person through a genuine compliment. Aim to do this at least once every day.

We are often tempted to argue with others, especially when we are absolutely convinced that we’re right about something. But even if we are right, what does arguing about it yield? Why prove someone else wrong? Is that going to make the person like us? Why not just let him save face, if we have nothing to gain from it but “feeling” superior?  

Not to mention, nine times out of 10, arguing just results in the other person even more firmly convinced that he is right.  

According to Carnegie, it’s impossible to win an argument. If we lose the argument, we lose; if we win the argument, we have made the other person feel inferior, hurt his pride, and made him resent us. In other words, we still lose.


"There is only one way under high heaven to get the best of an argument - and that is to avoid it."

Dale Carnegie

Instead of starting with “You’re wrong,” what if we were to say, “Well now, I thought otherwise, but I may be wrong. If I am wrong, I want to know why. Let’s examine the facts.”  

The latter approach becomes disarming, and often causes the other person to be much more reasonable, or even thank us for having an understanding attitude. It also (hopefully) inspires our opponent to be just as fair and open-minded as we are.  

In fact, it’s really not the ideas themselves that are so important to us, but our self-esteem, which is threatened when we are told that we’re wrong. Without our egos threatened, we may become very open to exploring new possibilities.

Practice Principle 2:

Next time you find yourself becoming frustrated or disagreeing with another person’s perspective, stop yourself from shaking your head, and adjust how you phrase your opinion:

  “No, you’re wrong.”
  “Why do you see it that way?”
   “No, that’s the wrong way to tackle.”
  “Why do you think that’s the best option to pursue?”

You might even ask the other person for permission to share your perspective on the matter, which readies the other person to listen to your ideas in a less critical mindset.

Carnegie tells a story of taking his dog to the park without a muzzle or a leash, and running into a police officer who scolded him, as this was against the law. The next few times Carnegie took his dog out, he kept him on a leash, but the dog didn’t like it. So the next time, Carnegie let the dog run free. When he ran into that same police officer, he knew he would be in trouble.

Instead of waiting for the police officer to start reprimanding him, he spoke up, saying that the officer had caught him red-handed, he was guilty and had no excuses, that the officer had already warned him. The policeman responded in a soft tone, told Carnegie he was overreacting, and that he should take his dog to the other side of the hill where he wouldn’t see him.

If we know we’re going to be rebuked anyhow, isn’t it far better to beat the other person to it and do it ourselves?

Through Carnegie’s quick and enthusiastic admission of fault, he gave the police officer a feeling of importance. After that, the only way the policeman could nourish his self-esteem was to take a forgiving attitude and show mercy.


"Any fool can try to defend his or her 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."

Dale Carnegie

Practice Principle 3:

Next time you find yourself in the wrong, challenge yourself to be the first to point it out. If you messed up on a work project, approach your boss about it, or bring it up next time you meet with her. By conveying that you not only acknowledge your mistakes but also that you’ve thought about how to avoid making similar mistakes down the line, you show your boss that you are responsible, honest, and diligent, and she is far more likely to dismiss the issue and continue to trust you.

The Muse ResourceThe "Just Right" Reaction When You Mess Up at Work

If we’re angry or frustrated at someone and we go to them with our temper flaring, we’re sure to have a fine time unloading our feelings toward them. But what about the other person? Will our belligerent tones and hostility make it easy for them to agree with us?

If we approach the other person with our fists doubled, this will only lead the other person to double his fists twice as fast. If instead we come to him and say, “Why don’t we sit down and talk this through so we can understand why we disagree,” we’re likely to find that we’re actually not so far apart after all, that the points on which we differ are few and the ones on which we agree are many.

When a person feels negatively about us, we can’t win him to our way of thinking with all the logic in the world. We can’t force someone to agree with us, but we can lead them in that direction if we are gentle and friendly with them.


"A drop of honey catches more flies than a gallon of gall."

Abraham Lincoln

Business executives have learned that it pays to be friendly to strikers, that they are able to shift the strikers’ perspectives and win their loyalty by addressing their needs as friends and peers, instead of suppressing their voices and acting as dominants.

Practice Principle 4:

When you find yourself about to scold your children, act as a domineering boss, or nag your husband or wife, try softening your approach by opening with a friendly conversation and keeping a calm tone.  

Ask how your husband’s work presentation went, or ask your employee for her thoughts on your last team meeting. Have at least five minutes of pleasant conversation before you bring up the issue at hand.

When talking with people, we should never begin with the points on which we disagree. We should start by emphasizing the things on which we agree, and be sure to convey that we’re both striving for the same result - our differences are in method, but not purpose.

The key is to keep our opponent from saying “no,” as this is a very difficult sentiment to overcome. As soon as someone says “no,” all of her pride rests upon her being consistent with that “no.” When a person says “no,” she immediately withdraws herself and guards against acceptance.

What we want to do instead is get the person saying “yes” as soon as possible. This starts the person moving in the affirmative direction where no withdrawal takes place. Our opponent now has a very accepting, open attitude.

Socrates has become very famous for the “Socratic method,” by which one asks another person questions with which they have to agree.


"[Socrates] kept on asking questions until finally, almost without realizing it, his opponents found themselves embracing a conclusion they would have bitterly denied a few minutes previously."

Dale Carnegie

Practice Principle 5:

Next time you find yourself in disagreement with someone, challenge yourself to get them to agree with you on at least two things before you each share your perspectives.

For example, you could begin with:

“The goal of this meeting is to decide on the best way to onboard new customers to minimize frustration with the product, correct?”


“We both want Johnny to feel comfortable in his social environment at school, right?”

Pointing out early on that you share the same ultimate goals will help start the conversation with a more agreeable tone. 

 Most people who try to get others to agree with their perspective do too much of the talking. Instead, let the other people talk themselves out. They know their problems better than we do. Let’s ask them questions and let them tell us a few things.  

We are often tempted to interrupt someone when we disagree with them. But we shouldn’t interrupt - it’s very dangerous. They won’t pay attention to our thoughts while they still have a number of their own to express. We must listen patiently and with an open mind, and be sincere in encouraging them to share their ideas fully.  

This principle helps in both business and family situations. Carnegie tells a story of a woman who couldn’t get her daughter to do her chores. Instead of yelling at her for the hundredth time, the mother one day simply asked her daughter sadly, “Why?”  

Her daughter let loose the thoughts and feelings she had been bottling up - her mother never listened to her and always interrupted her with more orders. The mother realized all she had been doing was talking, not listening. From then on, she let her daughter do all the talking she wanted and their relationship improved significantly.


"If you want enemies, excel your friends; but if you want friends, let your friends excel you."

La Rochefoucauld

Practice Principle 6:

Fight the urge to talk about yourself by learning to be comfortable with short silences in conversation. We’re often tempted to jump in and talk about ourselves when the other person stops talking, but if we stay quiet and wait for them to keep talking, chances are they will have more to say.

Life Hack Resource: How To Be A Good Listener That Others Want To Talk To

 Don’t you feel much more strongly about ideas that you came up with than ideas that are handed to you by others? If so, why should we try to jam our ideas down other peoples’ throats? Isn’t it much wiser to make suggestions and let the other person think out the conclusion?

No one likes to feel like they’re being told what to do. We much prefer to think independently, have autonomy, and act on our own ideas. We like to be consulted about what we think and what we want.

So how can we use this to our advantage? When we’re trying to win someone to our way of thinking, we can guide them there - get them halfway or so - and then step back and let them see the idea through to completion.

Take the case of a man named Mr. Wesson, who sold sketches for a design studio. He failed hundreds of times in getting one of the leading New York stylists to buy his sketches. One day, he tried a new approach. He took several incomplete sketches to the stylist and asked how he could finish the designs in such a way that the stylist would find them useful. The stylist offered his ideas, Mr. Wesson had the sketches completed according to the buyer’s ideas, and they were all accepted.

If we’re truly only after the results, why care about the credit? Why not let someone else take the spotlight, so long as we can achieve what we’re out to get?

Practice Principle 7:

Let’s say you’re trying to convince your boss to let you take the lead on a new project, or you’re trying to close a sale with a new customer. Before going into that conversation, write out a list of questions that would lead your boss or customer to the conclusion you’d like them to draw.

For your boss, it might be:

  • How big of a priority is getting this project done in a timely manner?
  • Would you trust this project to an entry-level employee or prefer someone more senior?
  • How does the priority of this project compare to the priorities of my current projects?

For your customer, it might be:

  • What goal are you trying to solve by purchasing this type of product?
  • How do you see our product helping you solve those goals?

 One of the fundamental keys to successful human relations is understanding that other people may be totally wrong, but they don’t think they are.  

Don’t condemn them; try to understand them.


"There is a reason why the other man thinks and acts as he does. Ferret out that reason - and you have the key to his actions, perhaps to his personality."

Dale Carnegie

If we ask ourselves, “how would I feel or react if I were in his shoes?” we’ll save ourselves a lot of time and frustration, because we’ll better understand his perspective. Success in dealing with people relies on being able to have a clear grasp of the other person’s viewpoint.

Accept the other person’s viewpoint. Determine what you say by what you’d want to hear if you were the listener. These skills will take time to develop, but will help you avoid conflict and get better results.

Practice Principle 8:

Next time you’re about to ask someone to buy your product or contribute to your favorite charity or do you a favor, pause first.

Make a list of reasons that you want them to do it, and a list of reasons that they would want to do it. When you’re writing your email, your website copy, or opening your conversation, only mention the reasons from their list, and none of the ones from your list.

 What if there were a magical phrase that would stop arguments, create positive interactions, and make the other person listen to you attentively? Well there is.  

We can say, “I don’t blame you at all for feeling the way you do. If I were you, I would undoubtedly feel the same way.”  

The great thing about this phrase is that we can say it and be 100% sincere, because if we were the other person, faced with her situation, problems, needs, desires, etc., we would indeed see things just as she does.


"Three-fourths of the people you will ever meet are hungering and thirsting for sympathy. Give it to them, and they will love you."

Dale Carnegie

If someone feels negatively toward us, once we begin apologizing and sympathizing with their point of view, they will begin apologizing and sympathizing with our point of view.

Everyone wants to feel understood and have their troubles and opinions recognized. Use this to turn hostility into friendliness.

 Practice Principle 9:

Next time you approach a disagreement with someone, take a moment to imagine yourself in their shoes. If you were that person:  

  • What sort of pressures would you be working under?  
  • What would your goals and priorities be?  
  • What sort of relationships do you have with the other people involved?  

Show the other person that you genuinely understand their perspective, by saying things like, “I completely understand why you see it that way,” or, “I know it would be helpful for you if ...”

 People usually have two reasons for doing things -- one that sounds good, and the real one. A person will recognize on his own the real reason he does something. We don’t need to point it out. But all of us, being idealists at heart, like to think of motives that sound good.

In order to change people, we must appeal to the nobler motives.

Take, for example, a landlord who had a tenant that decided he was going to break his lease four months early. The landlord could have handled the situation by pointing to their contract and listing all the consequences that would follow, but he instead had a talk with the tenant and said:

“Mr. Doe, I have listened to your story and I still don’t believe you intend to move. I sized you up when I first met you as being a man of your word. Take a few days to think it over, and if you still intend to move, I will accept your decision as final.”

The result? The tenant concluded that the only honorable thing to do was to live up to his lease. By appealing to the tenant’s nobler motives, the landlord was able to persuade him successfully.

Most people are honest and want to fulfill their obligations. In most cases, people will react favorably if we make them feel that we consider them honest, upright, and fair.

 Practice Principle 10:

When you’re trying to convince someone to do something, start by thinking of a few positive traits that that person tries hard to embody (or conversely, would be ashamed to be told he does not have).  

For example, most people aim to be responsible, fair, wise, and diligent. Work these ideas in when you mention to your son that you know he’s extremely responsible about his chores, so you were surprised to see that he didn’t make his bed this morning or when you tell your boss that you respect his fairness when it comes to deciding who deserves a promotion.  

HBR Resource: Why Wise Leaders Root Themselves in Noble Purpose

 To be effective in convincing someone of our ideas or our argument, it’s not enough to merely state a truth. If we truly want someone’s attention, we have to present that truth in a vivid, interesting, dramatic way.

We get down on one knee when we propose as an act of dramatization - we’re showing that words alone aren’t enough to express that feeling.

We make games out of chores so our kids will play along and find it fun to pick up their toys when they get to make a pretend train around the playroom.

Carnegie tells a story of a salesman who walked into a grocery store, told the owner that he was literally throwing away money on every sale he was making, and threw a handful of coins on the floor. The sound of the coins dropping got the attention of the owner and made his losses more tangible, and the salesman was able to get an order from him.

Practice Principle 11:

Find creative ways to use showmanship in presenting your ideas. When you’re designing your next meeting presentation or sales pitch, think of some ways to engage other senses or appeal to deeper concerns. Could you include a funny video in your presentation? Or begin with a dramatic statistic to underscore the importance of your message?

HubSpot Resource: 7 Public Speaking Tips From the World's Best Presenters

 Most people have an innate desire to achieve. Along with that desire often comes a fierce sense of competition - everyone wants to outdo others and be the best.  

When nothing else works in winning people to your way of thinking, throw down a challenge.


"The way to get things done is to stimulate competition. I do not mean in a sordid, money-getting way, but in the desire to excel."

Charles Schwab

 Frederic Herzberg, one of the great behavioral scientists, did a study of the work attitudes of thousands of people, ranging from factory workers to senior executives. He discovered that the one major factor that motivated people was the work itself. If the work was exciting or interesting, the worker looked forward to doing it.

This is what every successful person loves: the game. We seek a chance for self-expression, a chance to prove our worth, to excel, to win.

 Practice Principle 12:

When all else fails in motivating your employees or your children to do something, turn it into a game! Offer a reward to incentivize your sales reps to bring in the most revenue for the month, or tell your kids that whoever picks up the most toys gets to choose the restaurant they go to for dinner.

It’s much easier to listen to unpleasant things after we’ve been praised for our good points. That’s why the first step to changing people without offending them is to begin with appreciation for their strengths.  

For example, if a colleague writes a speech for a conference that we feel is too lengthy or inappropriate for that particular audience, we might start by complimenting her speech and noting that it would make for a great blog post.  

We could point out a few reasons it would be better suited for a written post than a speech, but chances are that even from our first mention, she’ll come to realize our point. Because we told her it would be a great fit for something else, she’s not offended that we thought it was a bad fit for the conference.


"Beginning with praise is like the dentist who begins his work with Novocain. The patient still gets a drilling, but the Novocain kills the pain."

Dale Carnegie

 Practice Principle 1:

The key is an age-old technique called a 'criticism sandwich.' When you're going to offer negative feedback, start with a compliment. Then segue into the meat and potatoes: the criticism. Finally, and more importantly, part ways with another positive compliment.

As Jonah Berger, Wharton professor and New York Times best-selling author, puts it, "It’s amazing what a little positive at the beginning and end can do."

 Most of us respond bitterly to direct criticism. When we’re looking to change people without offending them or arousing resentment, simply changing one three-letter word can be our key to success.

Many people begin their criticism with sincere praise followed by the word “but” and their critical statement. For example, a parent trying to convince her son to care more about his school work might say, “We’re really proud of you, Billy, for getting better grades this semester.But if you had worked harder in your math class, you would’ve done even better.”

In this case, Billy might feel encouraged right up until he hears the word “but,” which leads him to question the sincerity of the initial praise. The word “but” makes it seem like the praise was only a contrived lead-in to his mother’s criticism.

However, this situation could easily be reversed by changing the word “but” to “and.” See how different it sounds: “We’re really proud of you, Billy, for getting better grades this semester, and if you continue your efforts next semester, your math grade can be up with all the others.”

Now it’s much easier for Billy to accept the praise, because there was no follow-up with direct criticism.

Practice Principle 2:

Start swapping “but” for “and” when you deliver critical feedback, to help you frame it in a positive and uplifting way, instead of inferring failure and disapproval.

HubSpot Resource: How to Give Negative Feedback Without Sounding Like a Jerk

The next step to changing people’s ways without inflicting negative feelings is to admit that we are also susceptible to mistakes.

It is much easier to listen to a description of our own faults when the person criticizing begins by humbly saying that he is also far from perfect.  

Carnegie gives an example of hiring his niece, Josephine, to be his secretary. Josephine made many mistakes on the job, and though Carnegie was tempted to criticize her for her flaws, he took a step back and realized that he is twice as old as Josephine and has ten thousand times her business experience. How could he possibly expect her to have his same viewpoint and judgment? He realized that Josephine was performing better than he had been at her age.  

When he approached Josephine, he told her that she had made a mistake but goodness knows it was no worse than many that he himself had made. He noted that she was not born with judgment, that it comes only with experience, and that he had done many stupid things himself. “But don’t you think it would have been wiser if you had done so and so?” he concluded.

"Admitting one’s own mistakes - even when one hasn’t corrected them - can help convince somebody to change his behavior."

Dale Carnegie

 Practice Principle 3:

When you're about to criticize someone, ask yourself:

  • "What was I like when I was that age?"
  • “What was I thinking when I was at their level of experience?”

Your empathy wheels will start turning, and you'll realize that you have an opportunity to be a great mentor to this person. Try to be a positive influence. Think of yourself as your mentor instead off their boss, their friends instead of their parent.

Forbes Resource: How to Be a Great Mentor

No one likes to take orders. What if, instead of telling people what to do, we gave them the opportunity to do things themselves, to learn from their own mistakes?

Instead of saying “Do this” or “Don’t do that,” we should more often say, “You might consider this,” or “Do you think that would work?”

We long remember brash orders we’ve been given, times we’ve been screamed at - even if they were done to correct a bad error. But if we ask questions that give people the opportunity to correct errors themselves, we save their pride and give them a feeling of importance.

Asking questions also stimulates creativity, leading to new ideas and better solutions.


"People are more likely to accept an order if they have had a part in the decision that caused the order to be issued."

Dale Carnegie

 Practice Principle 4:

Next time you are about to give an order to a child, spouse, or employee, resist the temptation to simply tell them what to do. Ask them questions that will help bring them to the conclusion that that is the best action to take, and will make them want to do it.

Fast Company Resource: How To Ask Better Questions

 When we disagree with someone, even if we are right and he is definitely wrong, we only destroy his ego by causing him to lose face.


"I have no right to say or do anything that diminishes a man in his own eyes. What matters is not what I think of him, but what he thinks of himself. Hurting a man in his dignity is a crime."

antoine de saint-exupery

 Carnegie offers an example of an accountant whose business was mostly seasonal. As a result, every year he had to let a lot of employees go once the tax rush was over. He began by sitting each down and explaining, “Of course, you understood you were only employed for the busy season…” but naturally, he was met with disappointment.  

He then decided to begin the conversation by instead telling each employee how valuable he or she had been to the organization, and pointing out specific qualities that he appreciated in them. The result? The employees walked away knowing that if the business had been able to keep them on, they would have, and they felt much better about themselves.  

We are so quick to criticize that we seldom offer others the opportunity to save face, especially when a considerate word or two and a genuine understanding of the other person’s attitude is all it would take to alleviate the sting.

Practice Principle 5:

When you have to deliver a decision or information that will cause negative feelings, think about how you can make the person feel good about himself first.

Avoid delivering negative feedback in front of others or setting up a situation that will be embarrassing for the person. Think to yourself, “If I were him, how would I like to hear this news?” and design your environment and your approach accordingly.

 Take a brief look back on your own life to this point. Can you think of a time when a few words of praise have had a hand in shaping the person you've become?

One of the most powerful abilities we have is helping others realize their potential. We can do this by praising their strengths. Yet, this is something we do so infrequently. It's much easier to point out someone's faults. Even when it's tough to find things to praise, try hard to find something.

We should also praise often. By noting even small steps and minor improvements, we encourage the other person to keep improving.


"Praise is like sunlight to the warm human spirit - we cannot flower and grow without it. And yet, while most of us are only too ready to apply to others the cold wind of criticism, we are somehow reluctant to give our fellow the warm praise of sunshine."

Jess Lair

We should also be specific in our praise. When praise is specific, it comes across as more sincere, not something we're saying just to make the other person feel good.

Practice Principle 6:

If you’re looking to inspire change in a child or employee, write out a list of the milestones he or she will have to hit in order to achieve the ultimate goal. As they hit each milestone, or even as they put in the effort to make progress, offer specific and sincere praise on each gradual step they take.

Help them feel the small successes as they go to keep them motivated.

Similar to appealing to people’s nobler motives, giving the other person a lofty reputation to live up to incites in them a desire to meet those expectations.


"If you want to improve a person in a certain aspect, act as though that particular trait were already one of his or her outstanding characteristics."

Dale Carnegie

 Carnegie offers an example of a mechanic named Bill whose work had become unsatisfactory. Instead of berating or threatening Bill, his manager simply called Bill into his office and told him:

“You are a fine mechanic, you have been in the business for many years, and we’ve had a number of compliments on the good work you have done. But lately, your work has not been up to your own old standards, and I thought you’d want to know since you’ve been such an outstanding mechanic in the past.”

The result? Bill once again became a fast and thorough mechanic. With the reputation his manager had given him to live up to, how could he not?

 Practice Principle 7:

When you’re trying to change someone’s mind, give them a reputation to live up to by saying something like:  

“I respect the fact that you’re always willing to listen and are big enough to change your mind when the facts warrant a change.”  

Appeal to their nobler motives of responsibility, fairness, openness, diligence, etc.

If we tell our children, spouses, or employees that they are stupid or bad at a certain thing, have no gift for it, and are doing it all wrong, we strip them of any motivation to improve. If instead, we use the opposite technique and openly encourage them as they take steps toward improvement, we’ll inspire a much higher level of motivation to continue.


"Be liberal with your encouragement, make the thing seem easy to do, let the other person know that you have faith in his ability to do it, that he has an undeveloped flair for it - and he will practice until the dawn comes in the window in order to excel."

Dale Carnegie

 Carnegie offers an example of a boy who was struggling with algebra. His father made flashcards for him, and every night his father would time him on how long it took for him to get all of the cards right. Their goal was to do it in under eight minutes.

The first night, it took 52 minutes. The boy thought he’d never get there! But every time he knocked off a few minutes - 48, then 45, 44, 41 - they would call in his mother and the three would celebrate and dance a little jig. This gave the boy the motivation to keep improving, and even made it fun, until he got so good that he hit his goal and did it in eight minutes.

 Practice Principle 8:

Rather than simply telling someone they’re goal is out of reach, find ways to encourage small victories when possible. These smaller compliments can help make room for sharing guidance while keeping them inspired.

Whether these small victories come in the form of eating reese’s pieces every time a work task is complete or dancing a jig when your song gets a math, recognizing progress can go a long way.

The final key to being a leader and changing people without arousing resentment is to make the person happy about doing what we want them to do.

 If you’re having a hard time convincing your child to do a chore, offer to pay her a dollar for every time she does it, and take away a dollar for every time she doesn’t.  

If you choose another internal candidate for the job, tell the one who didn’t get the job that you felt he was too important to the organization in his current role to reassign him.  

If you have an employee who struggles with a certain task, appoint her to be the supervisor for that task, and watch as she improves immediately.  

Offering incentives, praise, and authority are all great ways to make a person happily accept our decisions and do what we want them to do.

Practice Principle 9:

To be an effective leader, keep these guidelines in mind when it is necessary to change attitudes or behavior:

1. Be sincere. Don’t promise anything you can’t deliver.
2. Know exactly what you want the other person to do.
3. Be empathetic. Ask yourself what it is the other person really wants.
4. Consider the benefits that person will receive from doing what you suggest.
5. Match those benefits to the person’s wants.
6. When you make your request, put it in a form that will convey to the other person the idea that he personally will benefit.

It is naive to think that by implementing these techniques, we'll always get the outcome we desire. But the experience of most people shows that we are more likely to change attitudes with these approaches than by not using these principles. Even if we increase our success by a mere 10%, we have become 10% more effective as leaders than we were before.  

With practice, it will become even more natural to apply these principles every day, and soon we will be masters of the art of human relations.


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