A Summary of the Best “People Book” Ever Written

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November 17, 2016
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I read it again and I should read it more often:

A Summary of the Best “People Book” Ever Written.

I first read “How To Win Friends and Influence People” (Dale Carnegie) when I was only 16 years old. Warren Buffet read it at 15. Although I was limited in life experience, from that time it began shaping my beliefs and values about what effective and authentic interpersonal relationships should look like. The book is considered the father of all people-skills books and despite being written more than over 50 years ago the messages in the book are still relevant today.

30 years later I recently revisited the book once again. Like an old friend who I see only once each year, these messages continue to relight a candle that should never dim.


In order to succeed we need to understand some fundamental techniques to handle people well:

Don’t criticise, condemn or complain

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

Give honest and sincere appreciation

“The deepest principle in human nature is the craving to be appreciated”. William James

Arouse in other people a genuine desire

“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

“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

The book generally focusses on:

Getting people to like and respect you
Getting people to agree with you or support your vision
Dealing with challenging people
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Getting People to Like and Respect You

1) Be genuinely interested in other people ahead of yourself. Get to know people and become genuinely interested in what they say, believe and value. Pay attention and engage completely in conversations. Don’t be the person who is just waiting for a sentence to end so that they can tell people what you think. Other people need to feel more important than you position yourself.

“You can make more friends in two months by becoming interested in other people than you can in two years by trying to get other people interested in you.” Dale Carnegie

2) Smile as much as you can – A smile is not only infectious to the people around you but it will drive your attitude, moods and behaviours. “People who smile tend to manage, teach, and sell more effectively, and to raise happier children. There’s far more information in a smile than a frown. That’s why encouragement is a much more effective teaching device than punishment.” James V. McConnell

3) Use peoples’ names. When you use a person’s name it is the sweetest sound they can hear. Remember names in any way you can as an invaluable asset to the relationship you are trying to foster. “The average person is more interested in his or her own name than in all the other names on earth put together.” “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

4) Be a very good listener- listening requires actions as well as mental energy. Be aware of your body language and the messages this sends in the communication process. Maintain eye contact, lean forward, ignore your mobile phone and any other distractions. Encourage others to talk about themselves and actively engage in that conversation as an active participant in their thoughts and ideas. Aim to do 75% listening and 25% talking. “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

5) Engage in other peoples interests. Talk about other peoples’ interests rather than your own when you are trying to convince someone to do something different. Know ahead of time who they are and what they may need. Demonstrate through advanced planning that you know something about them and you care. “The royal road to a person’s heart is to talk about the things he or she treasures most.” Theodore Roosevelt

6) Make other people feel important and do it with authenticity- Make sure everyone feels important. Compliment, recognize strengths and value in other people. Make people feel like they matter. “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

Businesswoman drawing a rising arrow, representing business grow

Getting People to Agree With You or Support Your Vision and Beliefs

1) The best way to win an argument is to not have an argument. You need to be aware of the consequences of an argument and how it affects the other relationship participant. Create an environment where the tone and atmosphere is not confrontational and remains positive or conciliatory. “There is only one way under high heaven to get the best of an argument – and that is to avoid it.” Dale Carnegie

2) Show respect for other peoples’ opinions – People will always listen more intently when they know you understand their point of view. Acknowledge the parts of their opinion and ideas that you either agree with or respect and understand. “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

3) Admit when you are wrong- You will make mistakes and will continue to learn from them. When you admit to your mistakes or failings you become relatable and genuine because everyone makes mistakes. “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

4) Find common ground to begin disagreements in a friendly way – when we begin identifying what is similar in our differences it helps us bridge the gap more quickly about what is different. In many cases we realize that we have more in common than we expect and the divide is less of a challenge than we might at first predict. “A drop of honey catches more flies than a gallon of gall.” Abraham Lincoln

5) Find early opportunities to say “yes”and to agree – when you are trying to convince someone find smaller opportunities to agree then deal with the larger challenges second. The conversation will free itself from less negative and make the bridge required much smaller. “[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

6) Let other people do most of the talking – By listening first, your message in response is more likely to respond directly to what the other person needs. Your message can be relevant and purposeful. “If you want enemies, excel your friends; but if you want friends, let your friends excel you.” LA Rochefoucauld

7) Don’t take ownership of ideas, let others feel like it is their idea – Even if the idea is fixed in your own mind already be patient and lead people to their own discovery of the same or similar position. Ask for suggestions and collaborate on the solving of problems. Share accountability.

8) See things from the other person’s point of view- If you want to convince others you need to recognize other peoples’ logic and you need to express ideas as closely as possible through their same perspective. Take a third position perspective and understand the situation as a different participant or observer. “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

9) Have sympathy and show sympathy when other people share ideas, beliefs, values and motivations. “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

10) Understand and appeal to noble virtues- people will always work harder when they act both for personal reasons as well as for a larger, more noble motive. We will always try to attaché ourselves, or our rationale, to a cause beyond only ourselves if we can.

11) Make your ideas a story and a vivid picture – Merely stating the facts is rarely enough. The facts or situation needs to be communicated in a story that is vivid and relatable.

12) Challenge people – Use peoples’ natural competitive spirit to your advantage by challenging people to achieve personal goals. Most often they may even exceed their own goals and consequently your own goals will often be achieved. “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

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Dealing with Challenging People

Principle 1 – Begin appreciation and praise. People will automatically start with a defensive position and tune out if you begin in with judgment or criticism about them or the work they do.

“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

Principle 2 – Call attention to people’s mistakes indirectly. De-personalise a mistake by making reference to the issue, obstacle or circumstance rather than the person. Protect people from blame or direct ownership knowing that people make the best decisions they can and the consequences are things and not people.

Principle 3 – Talk about your own mistakes before criticizing the other person. By beginning humble and sharing your personal journey, you can demonstrate that everyone can recover from a mistake if used as a learning opportunity. “Admitting one’s own mistakes – even when one hasn’t corrected them – can help convince somebody to change his behavior.” Dale Carnegie

Principle 4 – Ask questions instead of giving direct orders. No one likes to take orders directly so it is essential that people remain participants in a reflective process where they learn from their mistakes and an active process of finding 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

Principle 5 – Let the other person save face. Protect people’s egos, be respectful and don’t burn bridges. “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

Principle 6 -Praise the slightest improvement and praise every improvement. As Abraham Lincoln said be “hearty in your approbation and lavish in your praise”. We all know that a few words of praise can transform our thinking and launch a new direction or motivation. “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

Principle 7 – Give the other person a fine reputation to live up to. Speak highly and praise publicly a person’s strengths. Establish a person’s standard and remind them of how great they can be. When you compare a person to themselves at a more perfect time it is far more positive and motivating than criticism or judgement. “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

Principle 8 – Use encouragement. Show the pathway to correction and that most mistakes are easy to recover from. “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

Principle 9 – Make the other person happy about doing the thing you suggest- Show people how they are the natural change maker and solution. Get people excited about their projected success ahead of time. By assigning responsibility and assigning accountability through the value you have in them it draws a meaningful pathway that is motivating. Match the benefits to a person’s motivations and desires. To make a person excited about a challenge is far more effective than making people accountable for a job.


“How to Win Friends and Influence People” Dale Carnegie

Copyright – 1936 / 1964 / 1981 (Revised Edition)

Simon & Schuster ISBN: 978-1-4391-6734-2


Internationally renowned for his expertise in education leadership, Greg Parry’s vast experience includes leadership of projects for education institutions throughout Australia, the Middle East, the United States, India, Indonesia, Malaysia and China. Recognized for his numerous contributions in the education arena, Greg has received the Ministers Award for Excellence in School Leadership based on improvements in school performance and a range of successful principal training and leadership development programs, as well as the School of Excellence Award for Industry/School Partnerships and the School of Excellence Award for Technology Innovation. His company (Global Services in Education) has been recognised as having the Best Global Brand in International Education 2015 and 2016.

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