Dale Carnegie Book Summary

Book Summary: How to Win Friends & Influence People

By James Razko

In this summary of How to Win Friends and Influence People, you will learn why being a nice person pays big, how the sun won a bet with the wind, and why Ben Franklin refused to say— certainly.

The best part of this classic self-improvement book is it encourages, empathy, interest, and care, for others, in the quest for betterment. If you don’t genuinely like people, these principals will not work; that’s why flimsy salespeople who have maladapted this book are no fun. They’ve forgotten the book’s maxim: be sincere, kind, and appreciate every one.

Enjoy this summary of How to Win Friends and Influence People

Book Summary:

How to Win Friends & Influence People, Dale Carnegie


Don’t criticize, condemn, or complain.

Like man’s best friend, humans learn faster with reward when compared to punishment — critiquing people, who are naturally-emotional beings breeds resentment.

For example, the author noticed his housekeeper wasn’t living up to her usual standards. Instead of criticizing her, he mentioned how good she was at polishing silver, and asked if she would put that skill to use the next day, further suggesting he would pay extra if she needed more time to complete the task. After this talk, her work performance dramatically improved, without any resentment or overtime.

Give honest and sincere appreciation.

Besides, food, shelter, health, and sex, people desire to feel valued. Sincerely appreciate everyone you meet and your life will improve by improving others.

John D. Rockefeller, Andrew Carnegie, and Charles Schwab all consider appreciation one of their greatest assets.  Andrew Carnegie even inscribed “Here lies one who knew how to get around him men who were cleverer than himself” on his tomb. 

Avoid flattery; it is insincere and not appreciated. 

Arouse in the other person an eager want.

If you wanted to catch a fish, baiting a hook with your favorite fruit, avocado, is a poor choice. Instead, it would be wise to use what fish like— worms.

To get what you want from another person—understand them. After that, give them what they want.


Become genuinely interested in other people.

Want to know how to make and keep friends— look to man’s best friend. Dogs mastered the art of making (human) friends ages ago. Their secret— they nearly faint with enthusiasm every time they see you.

To be more likable— like people. Be enthusiastic whenever you meet someone— Manifest Doggy power. 


Smiling produces happy feeling even when you’re faking it. Likewise, smiling at other people makes them happy. For example, what cold-hearted person refuses to smile back at a beaming baby? Smiling is the quickest and surest ways to get others to like you.

No matter the effort you put into your appearance, if you’re not wearing a smile, no one will like you. 

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

People like to hear their name; it’s a small but noticeable compliment.  Napoleon and Roosevelt both understood the magic of remembering names and could always recall the names of workers and dignitaries alike. 

Many people do not remember names because they don’t put the effort in: When you meet someone and are given their name, repeat it several times throughout the conversation, this will help you recall it later.

To make your interlocutor’s name stick, memory experts also recommend: associating the name with something or someone you already know, and spelling it out if it’s complicated.

Be a good listener. Encourage others to talk about themselves.

Almost as much as people like to hear their name, they want to talk about themselves. 

Every person has something unique and exciting to offer you. Learning to listen will win people over and make your life more interesting.  

Take to heart what Socrates said,

The only true wisdom is in knowing you know nothing.


For example, The author was at a dinner party and began listening to a botanist who talked to him for hours. When the dinner party ended, the botanist remarked what a great conversationalist he was, even though Dale Carnegie had not said much. By listening, the author, made a great impression and a new friend, while learning about exotic plants and indoor gardens, a topic that genuinely interested him.

Talk in terms of the other person’s interests.

Besides, talking about themselves, everyone likes to talk about their interests. Before meeting someone new or interviewing for a job, find out what the other person’s interests are and spark a great conversation. Remember to sit back and listen.

Make the other person feel important – and do it sincerely.

Every person has something to admire: Practice giving sincere appreciation away to everyone throughout your day. In a short time, your life will improve, and appreciation will become second nature.


The only way to get the best of an argument is to avoid it.

Even when you’ve won an argument— you have lost. The loser of an argument rarely changes their and mind and will like resent the winner.

Ben Franklin, a famous arguer in his youth, began to lose friends. Upon realizing his error, he willed to never directly-contradict anyone again. And, even went so far as to remove words like certainly from his vocabulary. In doing so, Ben realized his life was more pleasant, found he could often agree with things his partner had to say, and no longer risked losing face when he was wrong.

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

Telling people they are wrong, even with a look, is the surest way to create ill will, or worse, an enemy. 

Instead of telling someone they are wrong, try to gently lead them to the conclusion that their thoughts may have been in error. Make the person your talking to feel as if the error was their idea.  

You cannot teach a man anything; you can only help him to find it within himself.

Galileo Galilei

If you are wrong, admit it quickly and emphatically.

By admitting you are wrong as soon as possible you invite the other person to show you mercy, giving them a feeling of importance.

For example, the author liked to walk his small dog (illegally) in a nearby park without a leash and had been previously warned by a police officer to restrain his dog. The author (apparently didn’t like rules) and again ran into the same police officer with his dog unleashed. Before the officer could say a word, the author immediately admitted his wrongdoing and kept emphatically insisting of his behavior was dishonest. Instead of reprimanding him, the police-person soon took his side, mentioning the small dog could not hurt anyone and advised him to walk the dog in a nearby where nobody could see.

Begin in a friendly way.

No matter how your feeling, if you start a conversation by dumping negativity onto someone, especially in anger, it will put them on guard and ready to fight. And, when preparing for battle, people are not agreeable or open to seeing others point of views.

Start all conversations in a friendly manner and after a few minutes, calmly and gently lead your interlocutor towards your point of view.

An illuminating fable about the sun and the wind: The wind bet the sun he could take a mans coat off faster than the sun. After their bet begun, the wind blew a fierce storm, but the man held firmly to his jacket. The wind, now out of breath gave way to the sun, and the sun shone brightly. The man, warming up in the sun’s rays removed his jacket.

Get the other person saying ‘yes, yes’ immediately.

Socrates, realized long ago while developing the Socratic Method, that if you start a conversation with points your interlocutor will agree with, they will be much more likely to accept your future points of view, even if moments ago they may have otherwise bitterly refuted them. 

Likewise, when a person begins with a no, they are more likely to disagree with any future point. 

How you being a conversation is like pushing a snowball down a freshly powdered hill. The more it moves in one direction, gaining momentum and size, the harder it will be to pick up and move in any another direction.   

Let the other person do a great deal of the talking.

People have a lot to say and our urge to jump in and talk about ourselves can feel irresistible, especially when we disagree. 

However, fighting this urge and sincerely encouraging others to complete their ideas fully will build a valuable rapport between you both. And, a good relationship is especially useful when trying to influence someone. 

Remember, the other person knows their business best, and listening to them will help you understand their point of view. In the process, you may learn something. 

“The reason why rivers and seas receive the homage of a hundred mountain streams is that they keep below them. Thus they are able to reign over all the mountain streams. So the sage, wishing to be above men, putteth himself below them; wishing to be before them, he putteth himself behind them. Thus, though his place be above men, they do not feel his weight; though his place be before them, they do not count it an injury.”

Lao Tzu

Let the other person feel that the idea is his or hers.

Most do not like to be told what to do or think. Gently leading others to your conclusion with questions and suggestions will allow the other person to feel like it was their idea in the first place. If all your after is results, let others take credit for your ideas. 

Try honestly to see things from the other person’s point of view.

Everyone thinks they are right. 

Always place yourself in other’s shoes and understand their wants and needs. You may find your wrong.

By giving a person what they need and desire you can get what you want. It is wise to always develop a win-win situation.

Be sympathetic with the other person’s ideas and desires.

The magic saying above will stop arguments, and foster positive interactions. Sincerely sympathizing with another person gives them the mental space to listen to you. Everyone hungers to be understood. Genuinely provide this and others will love you. 

You can always convey the magic saying sincerely, because, if you where that person atom for atom, logically you would feel the same. 

Appeal to the nobler motives.

Everyone has two reasons for doing something: The reason they tell themselves and the actual one.

Infamous criminals like Jesse James and Al Capone believed what they were doing was righteous. Everyone is an idealist. 

Humans desire to be good, even if we have to lie to ourselves to fulfill it. Appealing to peoples desires to be fair, wise, responsible and so-on will persuade most to do the right thing.  

Dramatize your ideas.

Don’t put your audience to sleep by delivering— the facts. People love to be entertained and wrapping your idea creatively and engagingly will help persuade your audience. 

For example, Dale Carnegie mentions a salesperson walking into a grocery store and telling the owner they are throwing their money away for various reasons. At the end of the pitch, he tossed a few coins on the floor. The coins dramatized the salesperson’s efforts, and the grocery store owner (instead of throwing him out the door) was swayed.

Throw down a challenge.

Everyone wants to be good at what they do. Stimulating friendly competition among co-workers, friends, or even yourself, with games and rewards will encourage hard work and create a stimulating environment. 

Competition raises the bar and most perform their best when in one. 


Begin with praise and honest appreciation.

If you need to critique someone, make a critique-sandwich by beginning and ending with praise. In doing so, the person will be more receptive to your feedback.

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.

How to Win Friends and Influence People, Dale Carnegie

Call attention to people’s mistakes indirectly.

Who likes to criticized—nobody. 

Indirect criticism sounds sweeter and is more likely to produce a result. 

For example, Instead of saying: 

Your summary of How to Win Friends and Influence People is excellent. However, I did notice a few typos you should fix. Anyway, great job. 

You could have said:

Gee golly, what an excellent summary of How to Win Friends and Influence People, and I’ve noticed your hard work has paid off, I only spotted a few typos. I bet your next book summary won’t have any.

Talk about your own mistakes before criticizing the other person.

Admitting to another person your past faults and mistakes will help that person change their behavior and feel less ignorant.

For example, if your writer friend is making to many typos, the best approach would be to say: You know, when I first began writing, I used to make mistakes all the time. Let me show you a few tricks I learned while writing a summary of How to Win Friends and Influence People.

Ask questions instead of giving direct orders.

No one likes to be told what to do. Instead of giving orders, ask questions like: When do you think you are going to write the How to Win Friends and Influence People Summary?” or “Do you think this will work?

Let the other person save face.

Nothing stings like wounded pride, especially when cut down in front of an audience. Making sure others save face (even in situations like getting fired) will help you lead effectively and avoid burning bridges.  

Praise the slightest improvement and praise every improvement. 

A few words of praise can help others realize their potential and even change the course of a person’s life. Unfortunately, many of us are to quick to criticize and forget to praise.  A great leader is a human-gardener, who fosters growth— with praise. 

Be specific, genuine and generous when giving praise. 

Give the other person a fine reputation to live up to.

Similar to principal 10 (appeal to the nobler motives), giving others something to live up to can motivate positive change. 

For example, if your child has been falling behind with homework, you might mention: “You have always been a hard worker and an excellent student. Lately, I’ve noticed your homework has been pilling up. I thought to mention this to you before you hand an assignment in late and tarnish your excellent record at school.”<—Praise sandwich.

Use encouragement. Make the fault seem easy to correct.

Telling someone they are bad at something, solves no problem, and is likely an attempt to make yourself feel important. 

Instead, encourage small and easy victories to inspire change in others. Over time, these small wins will compound into a substantial and meaningful evolution.

The author offers the example of his son, who had a severe head injury, which, left him two grades behind. Kids called him Frankenstein and teachers thought he was slow. His son, unfortunately, began to believe he was a bad learner. The author, using flash cards, encouraged learning incrementally with rewards and praise. And, in a few months, his son went on to win a school science competition and discovered that he was a good learner after all.

Make the other person happy about doing the thing you suggest.

When leading, sometimes you need to get others to do what you want. Of course, you can threaten or punish, but making someone happy to do what you wish, will avoid feelings of resentment and will likely lead to the job being done better. Make people happy by giving them what’s they want. 

One way to instantly improve someone’s performance is to place them in a position of authority. 

For example, if a grocery store employee, hasn’t been stocking shelves correctly, instead of scolding, make them the supervisor of shelf stocking. The new position will dramatically improve their performance, and they will be happy to have received the title.

Effective Leadership Guidelines

  • Sincerity. Don’t make promises you can’t keep. Focus on benefiting others.
  • Know exactly what you want others to do.
  • Be empathic.
  • Consider what they want and will gain.
  • Give them what they want.
  • When you make the request, covey it in a way the person will know they stand to benefit. 

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