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Book Summary: How to Win Friends by Dale Carnegie

Cover Image - How to Win Friends and Influence People - Book Summary: Key Points, Lessons and Principles by Dale Carnegie

The book How to Win Friends and Influence People is a magical guide about the art of making friends. It’s an excellent resource to learn how to make friends easily. The book tells you what friendly people do, and how they behave and interact. Check How to Win Friends quotes here

Whether you want to understand how to make friends as an introvert, or want to be diplomatic in your approach, the book has plenty of tips and examples.

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Get the key points in this How to Win Friends Dale Carnegie summary. This article lists all the principles from How to Win Friends book. Would be valuable in helping adults and kids alike.

Let’s dive in.

Table of Contents

Three Ways to Handle People

Don’t criticize, condemn or complain

If you encounter criminals, remember that they don't see themselves as inherently bad people. They believe they're just as human as you and I, and they try to rationalize and justify their antisocial actions. They often maintain that they shouldn't be imprisoned at all.

Criticizing them is pointless because it only makes them defensive and determined to defend their actions. Moreover, criticism can harm their pride and sense of importance.

To achieve positive results, don't attack people directly. Instead, reward good behaviour and focus on understanding and forgiving others. Also, rather than attempting to change someone else, it's more beneficial and less risky to start by improving yourself.

Principle 1: Don’t criticize, condemn or complain.

Give honest and sincere appreciation

Have you ever realized that there's only one effective way to get anyone to do anything? Yes, just one way. And that is by making the other person genuinely want to do it. Remember, there's no other way.

Sure, you can force someone to give you their watch by threatening them with a gun. You can make your employees cooperate by threatening to fire them. You can make a child obey you through whips or threats. But these crude methods have negative consequences.

Of course, flattery rarely works with discerning individuals. But there’s a difference between flattery and appreciation.

Principle 2: Give honest and sincere appreciation.

Arouse in the other person an eager want

Your interests primarily revolve around what you want, and the same goes for everyone else. Every action you've ever taken stems from your own wants and needs. So, to influence others, the key is to talk about their desires and guide them toward achieving them.

If you need to persuade someone tomorrow, take a moment before speaking and ask yourself, "How can I make this person genuinely want to do it?" Success lies in understanding the other person's perspective and seeing things from their point of view.

Understanding someone's perspective and kindling their desire should never be seen as manipulation or disadvantageous to either party. Both sides should benefit.

Principle 3: Arouse in the other person an eager want.

Six Ways to Make People Like You

Become genuinely interested in other people

The key to making friends is to genuinely show interest in other people, rather than trying to make them interested in you. People are primarily concerned with themselves throughout the day.

If you focus solely on impressing others and making them interested in you, you won't develop many sincere friendships. Genuine friends are not made through self-centred approaches.

You should actively engage in acts of kindness and service towards others… actions that require time, energy, selflessness, and thoughtfulness. And greet people with enthusiasm and animation, displaying genuine pleasure when interacting with them.

Principle 4: Become genuinely interested in other people.


The expression you wear on your face is more significant than the clothes you wear. Actions speak louder than words, and a genuine smile conveys the message, "I like you. You make me happy. I am glad to see you."

However, insincere grins don't fool anybody. One can recognize when a smile is mechanical, and it can cause resentment. A genuine smile is heartfelt and radiant, originating from within.

Feeling like you don't want to smile? There are two things you can do. First, force yourself to smile. If you're alone, whistle, hum a tune, or sing. Act as if you are already happy, and this can actually bring about happiness. Thoughts have immense power.

Principle 5: Smile.

Remember a person’s name

A person's name is the sweetest and most important sound to them in any language. When you remember someone's name and can easily recall it, you give them a subtle yet effective compliment. However, if you forget or misspell their name, you put yourself at a disadvantage.

It's crucial to recognize the power contained within a name and understand that this single piece of information belongs exclusively to the person we are interacting with and nobody else.

The name sets them apart and makes them unique among all others. When we approach a situation using the individual's name, the information or request carries special significance. 

Principle 6: Remember a person’s name.

Be a good listener

People prefer good listeners to good talkers, but the ability to listen seems rarer than almost any other good trait.

Listening is just as important in one’s home life as in the world of business. It’s an easy way to become a good conversationalist.

To be interesting, be interested. Encourage others to talk about themselves. Ask questions that other persons will enjoy answering. Encourage them to talk about themselves and their accomplishments.

Principle 7: Be a good listener.

Talk in terms of the other person’s interests

Whenever you expect a visitor, try to learn as much as you can about their topics of interests. The royal road to a person's heart is to talk about the things they treasure most.

Talking in terms of the other person's interests pays off for both parties. You are rewarded in some way by each person.

Principle 8: Talk in terms of the other person’s interests.

Make the other person feel important

If you want to avoid trouble and foster positive relationships, there is one crucial law of human behaviour to follow: Always make the other person feel important. Apply this principle sincerely and genuinely.

It's important to recognize that most people you encounter may believe themselves to be superior to you in some way. To win their hearts, subtly convey that you sincerely acknowledge their significance.

Find fulfilment in the feeling of doing something for someone without expecting anything in return. Allow this feeling to permeate your being, even long after the interaction has passed.

Principle 9: Make the other person feel important.

Twelve Ways to Win People to Your Way of Thinking

Avoid arguments

There is only one way under high heaven to get the best of an argument: avoid it.

Hatred is never ended by hatred but by love. And a misunderstanding is never ended by an argument, but by tact, diplomacy, conciliation and a desire to see the other person’s viewpoint.

Control your temper. Listen first. Give your opponents a chance to talk. Let them finish. Do not resist, defend or debate; it only raises barriers.

Principle 10: Avoid arguments.

Show respect for others’ opinions

Changing people's minds is challenging, even under the most favourable circumstances. So, why make it more difficult? Why put yourself at a disadvantage?

Never say, "You're wrong." Refrain from stirring people up or directly contradicting them.

When someone makes a statement that you believe is incorrect, it’s better to start by saying, "Well, now, look, I thought otherwise, but I may be wrong. I frequently am.”

No one will object to you admitting that you may be wrong. It prevents arguments and encourages your opponent to be as fair, open, and broad-minded as you are. It makes them more willing to consider the possibility that they, too, may be wrong.

Principle 11: Show respect for others’ opinions.

If you are wrong, admit it

If you want to maintain a positive dynamic with others, acknowledge any derogatory thoughts they may have about you. Address those thoughts or criticisms before they even have a chance to express them.

It is easy for anyone to try to defend their errors, but it sets you apart from the crowd and grants you a sense of nobility and triumph when you have the humility to admit your mistakes.

By doing so, you have a high likelihood of receiving a generous and forgiving response, with your mistakes being downplayed.

Principle 12: If you are wrong, admit it.

Begin in a friendly way

If someone’s heart is rankling with discord and ill feeling toward you, you can’t win them to your way of thinking with all the logic. You can’t force them to agree. But they may be led to, if we are gentle and friendly, ever so gentle and ever so friendly.

The use of gentleness and friendliness is demonstrated day after day by people. A drop of honey catches more flies than a gallon of gall.

Principle 13: Begin in a friendly way.

Get them to say “yes, yes” immediately

When engaging in conversations with others, start by highlighting and emphasizing the points on which you agree. Emphasize, whenever possible, that both of you are working towards the same goal, with the only difference being the method, not the purpose.

A series of "yes" responses can set the psychological process of the listener in a positive direction. It increases the likelihood of capturing attention for your ultimate proposal or idea.

Principle 14: Get them to say “yes, yes” immediately.

Let the other person do the talking

Let the other people talk themselves out. They know more about their business and problems than you do. So, ask them questions. Let them tell you a few things.

If you disagree with them, you may be tempted to interrupt. But don't. It is dangerous. They won't pay attention to you while they still have a lot of ideas of their own crying for expression.

Listen patiently and with an open mind. Be sincere about it. Encourage them to express their ideas fully.

Principle 15: Let the other person do the talking.

Let the other person feel that the idea is theirs

People prefer to feel that they're acting on they own ideas. Everyone likes to be consulted about their wishes, their wants, their thoughts. They have much more faith in ideas that they discover themselves than in those handed on a silver platter.

No one likes to feel that they're being sold something or told to do a thing. So, it’s wiser to make suggestions and let the other person think out the conclusion.

Letting the other person feel that the idea is theirs, works everywhere: business, politics and family life as well.

Principle 16: Let the other person feel that the idea is theirs.

See things from others’ point of view

Other people may be totally wrong. But they don’t think so. Don’t condemn them. Any fool can do that. Try to understand them. Only wise, tolerant, exceptional people even try to do that.

There is a reason why they think and act the way they do. Ferret out that reason and you have the key to their actions, perhaps to their personality. Try honestly to put yourself in their place.

Try to think the whole thing through from others’ point of view. And you will sharply increase your skill in human relationships.

Principle 17: See things from others’ point of view.

Be sympathetic with others’ ideas and desires

Wouldn’t you like to a magic phrase that would stop arguments? That would eliminate all ill feelings, create good will and make the other person listen attentively?

Here it is: “I don’t blame you one iota for feeling as you do. If I were you, I would undoubtedly feel just as you do.”

The people who come to you irritated, bigoted, unreasoning, deserve very little discredit for being what they are. Most of them are hungering and thirsting for sympathy. Give it to them, and they will love you.

Principle 18: Be sympathetic with others’ ideas and desires.

Appeal to the nobler motives

A person usually has two reasons for doing a thing: one that sounds good and a real one.

The person himself will think of the real reason. You don't need to emphasize that. But all of us, being idealists at heart, like to think of motives that sound good. So, in order to change people, appeal to the nobler motives.

If you’re satisfied with the results you get, continue as it is. If you aren’t satisfied, experiment. Nothing will work in all cases and nothing will work with all people.

Principle 19: Appeal to the nobler motives.

Dramatize your ideas

This is the day of dramatization. Merely stating a truth isn’t enough. The truth has to be made vivid, interesting, dramatic.

You have to use showmanship.

The movies do it. Television does it. And you will have to do it if you want attention.

Principle 20: Dramatize your ideas.

Throw down a challenge

To accomplish tasks effectively, stimulate competition. Not in a narrow pursuit of wealth, but in fostering a desire to excel. The yearning to surpass a challenge motivates many individuals.

The desire to excel and the pursuit of a sense of importance are what fuel activities like foot-races, hog-calling competitions, and pie-eating contests. Embrace and harness this desire to excel to inspire and achieve remarkable outcomes.

Principle 21: Throw down a challenge.

Nine Ways to Change People Without Arousing Resentment

Begin with praise and honest appreciation

It is always easier to listen to unpleasant things after we have heard some praise of our good points. If you must find fault, this is the way to begin.

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

Principle 22: Begin with praise and honest appreciation.

Call attention to people’s mistakes indirectly

When dealing with sensitive individuals who may resent direct criticism, it is highly effective to indirectly draw attention to their mistakes.

Many people make the mistake of starting with sincere praise followed by the word "but" and a critical statement. However, simply replacing the word "but" with "and," and changing the sentence accordingly can make a significant difference in achieving success with people.

Principle 23: Call attention to people’s mistakes indirectly.

Talk about your own mistakes first

Admitting one’s own mistakes, even when one hasn’t corrected them, can help convince somebody to change their behaviour.

It isn't difficult to listen to a recital of your faults if the person criticizing begins by humbly admitting that they, too, are far from impeccable.

Principle 24: Talk about your own mistakes first.

Ask questions instead of giving direct orders

Nobody enjoys being given orders. So, provide people with the opportunity to take action themselves. Allow them to handle tasks and learn from their mistakes.

People are more likely to accept an order when they have played a part in the decision that led to the issuance of that order. Their involvement in the decision-making process fosters a sense of ownership and willingness to cooperate.

This approach not only facilitates error correction but gives people a sense of significance. It encourages cooperation instead of rebellion.

Principle 25: Ask questions instead of giving direct orders.

Let the other person save face

We ride rough over the feelings of others, getting our own way, finding fault, issuing threats… Criticizing someone in front of others, without even considering the hurt to their pride.

A few minutes’ thought, a considerate word or two, a genuine understanding, instead would go so far toward alleviating the sting! Let one save face. Only a few of us stop to think of it!

Principle 26: Let the other person save face.

Praise the slightest improvement and praise every improvement

Praise is like nourishing sunlight for the human spirit; one cannot thrive and grow without it. Yet, we often hesitate to offer genuine praise to others.

However, for praise to have its desired impact, it must be specific. Only when your praise is specific does it come across as sincere.

We all long for appreciation and recognition, not flattery.

Principle 27: Praise the slightest improvement and praise every improvement.

Give the other person a fine reputation to live up to

If you want to improve a person in a certain aspect, act as though that particular trait was already one of their outstanding characteristics.

Assume a virtue, if you have it or not. And it might be well to assume and state openly that other people have the virtue you want them to develop. Give them a fine reputation to live up to, and they will make efforts.

Principle 28: Give the other person a fine reputation to live up to.

Make the fault seem easy to correct

Tell someone that they're stupid or dumb at a certain thing, and you have destroyed them. Destroyed almost every incentive for them to try to improve.

But use the opposite technique – encouragement – and they will practice until the dawn comes in the window, in order to excel. Make the fault seem easy to correct, and make the thing seem easy to do.

Let them know that you have faith in their ability to do it, and that they have an undeveloped flair for it

Principle 29: Make the fault seem easy to correct.

Make the other person happy about doing what you suggest

Always make the other person happy about doing the thing you suggest. Keep the following things in mind when it is necessary to change attitudes or behaviour:

  • Be sincere. Do not promise anything that you cannot deliver.
  • Know exactly what it is you want the other person to do.
  • Be empathetic. Ask yourself what is it the other person really wants.
  • Consider the benefits that person will receive from doing what you suggest.
  • Match those benefits to the other person’s wants.
  • Put your request in a form that conveys that the other person will benefit.

You might not get a favourable reaction when you use these approaches. Still, the experience shows that you’re more likely to change attitudes this way than by not using it.

Principle 30: Make the other person happy about doing what you suggest.

Wrapping It Up

OK, that concludes this summary of how to win friends and influence others. You can read all the key points and principles of how to win friends and influence.

Now, empowered with all the how to win friends tips, go out and start making friends with strangers.

But keep in mind: The principles taught in this book work only when they come from the heart. It’s not advocating a bag of tricks. It talks about a new way of life.

30 Principles from How to Win Friends and Influence People Book Image

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