Book Review: How to win friends and influence people


How to win friends and influence people

Title: How to win friends and influence people

Author: Dale Carnegie

This is a book I've heard about many times and that more than one person recommended it to me in the past, so for a change from dev podcasts and similar for commuting I got the audio-book and just finished listening to it.

It is a curious, mixed-feelings book. One one side having a lot of good advices on varied topics, from how to deal with friendships and love, to business, to delivering hard news, to encouraging good behaviour from people that for example might be performing lower than they should... Being a revised edition I don't know if the original one had the concept of "organizational resilience", but at least some examples include the current impact of social media, Twitter, Facebook and the like, so while the original dates 1936 you won't notice it.

But on the other side, and in my personal opinion only, the book goes so much into being good with others and assuming good will and good intentions, that my personal experience rejected some points as being "way too positive". Not everything can be solved with a smile (or even deserves one), and while smiling and being considerate with others will surely help for example in negotiations, if you don't really feel it can backfire into making you appear fake and deceptive (speaking again of experience, when I've found some cases the effect has been worse).

Surely it has lots of examples of presidents and miscellaneous (many times famous) people doing amazing human acts, but I feel the book has a huge aura of "just be good with everyone" instead of more specific un-optimal scenarios and how to properly deal with them. I wasn't expecting something so full of examples and up to date as for example Managing Humans, but neither something so mystic and overly optimistic.

Still, interesting to read and containing some good advices. Just not as amazing as I expected.


I wish I could have taken more notes, but being an audio-book was hard to note anything but very concise points. Anyway, there are nice summaries online, like at Wikipedia.

  • generosity, trustiness
  • who you are and what you do makes others follow you
  • meaning before the medium
  • appreciation, honesty, sincere interest, empathy
  • increased touch points while losing touch
  • take the time to craft meaningful responses
  • try to avoid telling people they are wrong (including tones & gestures)
  • try to model/adapt those who are most influencing first to your ideas, then they'll spread it
  • ask questions instead of imposing orders
  • embrace failure/mistakes -> organizational resilience. 5 steps:
    1. acknowledge that failures happen
    2. encourage dialog to foster trust
    3. separate person from failure. project failed, not you failed
    4. learn from your mistakes
    5. create risk taking and fearless environment
  • magnify improvement
  • praise for good results, encouragement anytime (even when things go poorly)
  • make failures easy to correct

2024 Notes

My partner also read the book, and I took a quick look to be able to chat about it, so here is a brief summary:

  • Fundamental techniques in handling people
    • Don't criticise, condemn or complain
    • Give honest and sincere appreciation
    • Arouse in the other person an eager want
  • Six ways to make people like you
    • Become genuinely interested in other people
    • Smile
    • Remembering the other person's name
    • Be a good listener. Encourage others to talk about themselves
    • Talk in terms of the other person's interests
    • Make the other person feel important - and do it sincerely
  • You can't win an argument
    • Welcome the disagreement
    • Distrust your first instinctive impression
    • Control your temper
    • Listen first
    • Look for areas of agreement
    • Be honest
    • Promise to think over your opponents' ideas and study them carefully
    • Thank your opponents sincerely for their interest
    • Postpone action to give both sides time to think through the problem
    • The only way to get the best of an argument is to avoid it
  • Win people to your way of thinking
    • The only way to get the best of an argument is to avoid it
    • Show respect for the other person's opinions. Never say "you're wrong"
    • If you are wrong, admit it quickly and emphatically
    • Begin in a friendly way
    • Get the other person saying "yes, yes" immediately
    • Let the other person do a great deal of the talking
    • Let the other person feel that the idea is his or hers
    • Try honestly to see things from the other person's point of view
    • Be sympathetic with the other person's ideas and desires
    • Appeal to nobler motives
    • Dramatise your ideas
    • Throw down a challenge (invite others to engage)
  • Be a leader
    • A leader's job often includes changing your people's attitudes and behaviour
    • Begin with praise and honest appreciation
    • Call attention to people's mistakes indirectly
    • Talk about your own mistakes before criticising the other person
    • Ask questions instead of giving direct orders
    • Let the other person save face (avoid actions or words that would embarrass or discredit someone, even if they may be at fault)
    • Praise the slightest improvement and praise every improvement. Be "hearty in your approbation and lavish in your praise" (lavish -> copious)
    • Give the other person a fine reputation to live up to
    • Use encouragement. Make the fault seem easy to correct
    • Make the other person happy about doing the thing you suggest

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Book Review: How to win friends and influence people article, written by Kartones. Published @