“How To Win Friends And Influence People” by Dale Carnegie Summary

book summary for Dale Carnegie

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how to win friends and influence people by dale Carnegie book cover

How To Win Friends And Influence People by Dale Carnegie

You’ll learn new strategies to persuade people and get your point across in the right way.

It can be life-changing, even if you’ve already had some experience with influencing others beforehand.

The book also teaches how to both recognize and respond to people’s emotions. 

Book Summary

The book how to win friends and influence people by Dale Carnegie was written to provide the most helpful way of dealing with situations in your life.

Dale uses many real-life events as examples with their outcomes and explains how the outcome could have been changed in those situations. 

Ever had to deal with people you don’t get along with, or see things differently? Dale offers help in these areas by explaining different principles on how to handle people in different circumstances or with different types of personalities. He also explains ways in which we can change our behavior in these situations. 

Who Is Dale Carnegie?

Dale Carnegie was born in 1888 and died in 1955 from Hodgkin’s Disease. He is an American writer and lecturer. Dale found a love of public speaking in his younger years and completed high school in 1906. He then attended and graduated from State Teachers College in 1908. 

Dale has written several books between the years 1915 – 1979. He is most notably known for his international bestselling book How To Win Friends And Influence People published in 1986. The book has had over 5 million copies sold in more than 31 languages around the world. 

Chapter Overviews

Below is how to win friends and influence people summarised by chapter. The book is written in 4 parts and each part has a set amount of principles.

Part One: Fundamental Techniques in Handling People

Principle 1 – Don’t criticize, condemn or complain

It can be easy to criticize others over ourselves, especially if someone has done wrong or made a mistake.

Dale believes that threats and punishments will never change behaviors. We should first try to understand why they are doing what they are doing before we are quick to condemn. 

Principle 2 – Give honest and sincere appreciation

Many people in this world want something usually in the form of:

  1. Health
  2. Food
  3. Sleep
  4. Money
  5. Life in the hereafter
  6. Sexual gratification
  7. Children’s health and happiness

However, there is an 8th want missing from the list above and is usually the deepest and seldom gratified want – “desire to be great” or “desire to be important”. 

How you make a person feel will determine the character of that individual. Dale explains the difference between showing a person your appreciation rather than flattering them.

Flattery is simply cheap praise. It is words that come from the mouth and not from the heart whereas appreciation is sincere, unselfish, and universally admired. 

Principle 3 – Arouse in the other person an eager want

The only person interested in what you want is you because everyone else is doing exactly what you are doing, thinking about what they want. 

There are many ways you can influence a person without manipulating them by asking them what they would like and then actually showing them how to get it. Always remember both parties involved should benefit from the negotiation.  

Part Two: Six ways to make people like you

Principle 1 – Become genuinely interested in other people

If you want to make real friends and keep them then you need to learn to be more interested in them rather than trying to impress them to like you.  

The most famous old Roman poet, Publilius Syrus once said, “We are interested in others when they are interested in us.” 

Always no matter what you do, be sincere. This will help you come across like you are interested and want to get to know the other person, therefore this comes across more genuine. 

Principle 2 – Smile

“The expression one wears on one’s face is far more important than the clothes one wears on one’s back”

Dale uses this quote within the first 5 lines of this principle to convey just how much a smile can mean to someone.

He explains even if you’re not in the best of moods, it’s important to keep a smile on your face.

“The effect of a smile is powerful – even when it is unseen.”

Happiness should not be depicted by your surroundings but rather inward. The way you think has a large part to play in your happiness because it’s not about where you are, who you are, or what you have but rather how you think about yourself. 

He also quotes a lovely poem called, the value of a smile at Christmas that will melt your heart.

Smiling quote by Dale Carnegie

Principle 3 – Remember that a person’s name is to that person the sweetest and most important sound in any language

Most people love to hear their name. It makes them feel appreciated and valued just because you knew their name. 

A large number of people don’t remember names. This is simply because they haven’t taken much notice and attention to the name matching the person. 

Dale offers 5 techniques on how you can master the art of remembering names:

  1. If you did not hear the person’s name clearly the first time, ask them kindly to repeat it
  2. If the name is unusual, ask them to write it down
  3. While you are talking to them, repeat their name several times
  4. Try to combine the name with the person’s features, expressions, or appearance
  5. Write down the name so you can visualize it 

Principle 4 – Be a good listener. Encourage others to talk about themselves

You can’t be a good conversationalist if you aren’t a very good listener. 

People are always interested in themselves, their wants, needs, and problems so ask them about themselves and let them talk.

People love it when someone cares about what they are saying, often enough people just want an audience to listen to them. 

Why not next time when you start a conversation, be the listener. 

Principle 5 – Talk in terms of the other person’s interest

As we know by the previous principle, people love talking about themselves. Take the time to ask them questions about things in their life you know interest them. Their favorite hobbies, children, or even music. 

It’s so interesting to see how a person’s smile lights up when you ask them something on a topic they love and you want to hear about it. 

Theodore Roosevelt once said, “The royal road to a person’s heart is to talk about the things he or she treasures most.”

Principle 6 – Make the other person feel important – and do it sincerely

The golden rule of life when dealing with people is to treat people the same way you would like to be treated. 

How we communicate and ask questions to others will nine out of ten times ignite a reaction in that person. The manner and respect we give to others when speaking proves to them they are important to us.

A few simple little courtesy phrases you could use include:

  1. “I’m sorry to trouble you… “
  2. “Would you be so kind as to…”
  3. “Won’t you please?”
  4. “Would you mind?”
  5. “Thank you” 

Part Three: How to win people to your way of thinking

Principle 1 – The only way to get the best of an argument is to avoid it

Even when you think you have won an argument, you have still lost. This is because when you win, you hurt the other person’s pride and they will dislike you. 

There are 9 techniques to avoid a disagreement turning into an argument:

  1. Welcome the disagreement 
  2. Distract your first instinctive impression
  3. Learn to control your temper
  4. Listen first
  5. Look for areas of agreement
  6. Be honest
  7. Promise to think over the other person’s ideas and study them
  8. Thank the other person sincerely for their interest
  9. Postpone action to give both sides time to think through the problem

“When one yells, the other should listen – because when two people yell, there is no communication, just noise and bad vibrations.” – Opera tenor, Jan Peerce

Principle 2 – Show respect for the other person’s opinions. Never say, ‘You’re wrong’.

If you are someone who avoids offending people and hurting their pride, don’t bluntly state they are wrong. Because if you do, you will not change their mind. 

When you think a person is wrong, there are subtle phrases Dale says you could say such as: “I may be wrong, I frequently am. Let’s examine the facts.” 

By saying this, no one will ever oppose or object. 

Principle 3 – If you are wrong, admit it quickly and emphatically

We often tend to hide and avoid our mistakes and wrongdoings hoping no one will know or find out. Dale encourages the opposite behavior to his readers by saying we should admit our faults. 

There is a level of courage to do so and makes it easier to be the first to state your mistake rather than have someone else call you out. 

Follow the proverb, “By fighting you never get enough, but by yielding you get more than you expected.”

Principle 4 – Begin in a friendly way

No matter how upset or angry you are, always treat others with a level of kindness. Most people in the world respond better when they are approached with respect and kindness. 

If you need something from someone (help or information), being kind from the start will help most influence people to help. 

“A drop of honey catches more flies than a gallon of gall.” – Abraham Lincoln

Principle 5 – Get the other person saying yes, yes immediately

Emphasizing and emphasizing the thing you agree on when talking to someone is highly motivating. This helps to keep them saying ‘yes, yes’ rather than ‘no’ on the outset. 

Many times you will find The Socratic method being used by speakers starting their speeches with questions that usually have a ‘yes’ answer. This is done on purpose to move the listeners in the affirmative direction. 

Principle 6 – Let the other person do a great deal of the talking

If you have difficult people in your life or work with difficult people, the best way to handle them is to ask them questions, so they can explain their ideas fully. Most people would prefer to talk about their achievements than have you boast about yours.

La Rochefoucauld (a French philosopher) once said: “If you want enemies, excel your friends, but if you want friends, let your friends excel you.”

Principle 7 – Let the other person feel that the idea is his or hers

It’s more intriguing to discover your own ideas rather than having someone give you ideas.

The best approach is to gently make suggestions of your ideas and allow people to formulate their conclusions instead of forcing your ideas onto them.

We often feel more encouraged if we have the sense of being able to act on our ideas instead of being told or sold something. 

Principle 8 – Try honestly to see things from the other person’s point of view

While there are people who might be wrong, condemning them over trying to understand them gets you nowhere.

If you are unsure how to see another’s point of view, try the simple exercise of arguing with yourself. That way you will have to be both parties.

This will give you a good understanding of how important it is to see other people’s way of thinking and not just your own.

“I would rather walk the sidewalk of a person’s office for two hours before an interview than step into that office without a perfectly clear idea of what I was going to say and what that person – from my knowledge of his or her interests and motives – was likely to answer.” – Dean Donham

Principle 9 – Be sympathetic with the other person’s ideas and desires

The best magical phrase you will ever need 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.”

Dale explains that this phrase will help eliminate bad feelings, stop arguments, and make the other person listen to you attentively.

All anyone wants is sympathy, the feeling that someone understands your point of view.

Principle 10 – Appeal to the nobler motives

People like to believe they are upstanding members of society who have good morals and values. 

To successfully convince people of our ideas and ways of thinking, we need to remind them of their core values and noble morals. 

Principle 11 – Dramatize your ideas

To gain attention from either your friends, colleagues, or anyone you meet, you need to be dramatic and dramatize your ideas. 

Dale explains that the more interesting, vivid, and impressive your presentations, meetings or lectures are, the more people will listen and stay engaged. 

Principle 12 – Throw down a challenge

Every human has the desire to excel. To get people to tap into their desire to excel, a little healthy competition tends to be the trick.

What keeps people motivated in a competition is the game. The opportunity to prove their worth and the feeling of importance. 

Part Four: Be a leader – How to change people without giving offense or arousing resentment

Principle 1 – Begin with praise and honest appreciation

People tend to do their best work when they are being praised and appreciated. 

If you have to give someone news you know they are not going to be happy with, Dale advises you to compliment them first before breaking the bad news.

By doing this, you will be avoiding possible arguments and disagreements that might arise resulting from the bad news.

“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 2 – Call attention to people’s mistakes indirectly

When practicing the techniques Dale gives in the previous principle, he also states to keep in mind to not use the word ‘but’ following your praise or appreciation. 

While you have praised the person for their good work, saying ‘but’ right after and before your bad news will give the person the impression the praise you gave them wasn’t sincere. 

Rather replace the word ‘but’ with ‘and’. This helps to indirectly tell a person their mistake and live up to the expectation. 

Incorrect Example – “We are really proud of you, Johnnie, for raising your grades this term but if you had worked harder on your algebra, the results would have been better.”

Correct Example – “We are really proud of you, Johnnie, for raising your grades this term, and by continuing the same conscientious efforts next term, your algebra grade can be up with all the others.”

Principle 3 – Talk about your own mistakes before criticizing the other person

Dale explains that admitting your mistakes rather than hiding them shows others that you are not perfect.

It’s one thing to criticize someone for their mistakes, but another when you have or are making the same mistake.

Dale Carnegie quote from how to win friend and influence people book

Principle 4 – Ask questions instead of giving direct orders

No matter what position you hold in the workplace or family home, giving and demanding orders isn’t going to get people to like you or even do what you want them to do.

Dale suggests you take a more subtle approach by either offering suggestions or asking questions. This will help the other person feel they have played a role in the decision-making process and be more accepting of the order. 

Principle 5 – Let the other person save face

Dale explains that we should take a lot more care and consideration on how we choose to speak and treat others. 

We are so used to getting our own way, criticizing others even sometimes in front of children or fellow employees, giving threats, and even taking only our feelings into account above someone else’s.

If you just took a few minutes, to change your ways and consider the other person’s feelings and attitudes, you will find that person will feel a bit better about themselves. Even if you had to give them some terrible news such as they are being fired.

“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-Exupéry (French aviation pioneer and author)

Principle 6 – Praise the slightest improvement and praise every improvement. Be ‘hearty in your approbation and lavish in your praise’

Dale encourages his readers throughout his book to refrain from giving criticism and being so quick to judge others.

He uses the experiment from contemporary psychologist B.F Skinner who concluded that both humans and animals alike tend to be more willing to do what is asked of them by being praised rather than condemned to drive his explanation.  

However, Dale reminds you to not forget what you learned in Step 1 Principle 2 about the difference between appreciation and praising someone and flattery. 

“The principles taught in this book will only work when they come from the heart. I am not advocating a bag of tricks. I am talking about a new way of life. Talking about changing people. If you and I will inspire the people with whom we come in contact with a realization of the hidden treasures they process, we can do far more than change people. We can literally transform them.”

Principle 7 – Give the other person a fine reputation to live up to

People tend to outperform and do their very best when they have been given a high reputation. 

Therefore they would feel they need to live up to the expectation the person has of them and that they see good qualities and strengths they didn’t know they had. 

how to win friends and influence people by Dale Carnegie

Principle 8 – Use encouragement. Make the fault seem easy to correct

Always encourage people to overcome obstacles and difficult situations. By doing this, it gives the person the strength and self-determination to keep working through them. 

There is nothing you could ever gain for yourself or another person when you tell someone their ideas are pathetic or talk down on someone. All that does, is discourage them from even trying to do anything or even try new things. 

Don’t be that person who destroys someone else dreams they are trying to work so hard to achieve. 

Always be generous with your encouragement and make whatever they are doing seem possible and easy. 

Principle 9 – Make the other person happy about doing the thing you suggest

The main purpose of being able to connect and communicate with others is seeing things from others’ perspectives and having high expectations of them. 

Dale ends his last principle with 6 fundamental guidelines you can follow to become an effective leader when changing attitudes and behaviors:

  1. Be sincere
  2. Know exactly what you want the person to do
  3. Be empathetic
  4. Consider the benefits the person will get from doing what you suggested
  5. Make the benefits to that person’s wants
  6. When making a request, inform the other person what they personally will benefit from that idea

Every book has pros and cons, and how to win friends and influence people by Dale Carnegie is no different:

1. This book offers great principles that can be included in your daily life. The book is not just aimed at those who are employers but rather to anyone who wants to create good connections with people in all the areas of their life.1. How to win friends and influence people was published in 1986 therefore many of the stories and examples given by Dale throughout the book, even though they are great and easy to understand, are from public figures and historical events from that time. 
2. The book is easy to understand and has great stories used as examples that help to convey the principles Dale tries to explain.
3. Many of the principles and techniques in this book aim to indirectly change your behavior and understanding of people which will automatically help you change the behaviors of others.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q.Is the book still relevant in the 21st century? Answer: Yes, absolutely. Every principle, technique, and guideline can still be implemented today. Times may change, but how people like to be treated hasn’t. We are creatures who are always evolving and learning and usually, key techniques from any decade don’t change.  

Q.How long will it take me to learn the principles in the book? Answer: The time frame will be different for everybody. Some might need to read the book a few times to grasp certain principles to put them into practice, while others might have many of the principles already implemented in their daily life before reading the book. 

There is no right or wrong way of learning, understanding, and implementing anything in life. Take your time, and the more you practice the easier the principles will be to use. 


My overall summary of How to win friends and influence people by Dale Carnegie is a book you need to read at least once in your lifetime.

I feel as though there won’t be a single person who reads this book that won’t be able to take something if not all his principles away and use them effectively. 

This self-help book will help you improve your connections with colleges, family, friends, and even strangers you meet along the way. 

Even though this book was written years ago, the words on the pages seem to feel more prevalent and useful in today’s world than ever before. 

Stress today is something we all live with, and far too much of it, that it has made most people in the world difficult to get along with.

How to win friends and influence people by Dale Carnegie is all you need to change not just your behavior and attitude but also others you work with, live, or meet in your daily life.

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