Food for Thought: How to Win Friends and Influence People

This book is written by Dale Carnegie in 1930s. Recently, my boss reminded me of the importance of people engineering (which came about after I blasted my PR agency for their incompentency and/or laziness). Then a couple of weeks ago, while having a coffee with colleagues, we discussed how we mistakenly thought that going up the ranks meant that we would have less work. In contrary, we learned that having people work under you means that you have additional responsibility of guiding them and correcting them without hurting their precious egos.

With these in mind, I decided to download the e-book version of “How to Win Friends and Influence People.” Here are some of my notes that I copied here verbatim:



Principle 1: Don’t criticise, condemn or complain

  • John Wanamaker, founder of the American stores that bear his name once confessed: ‘I learned thirty years ago that it is foolish to scold. I have enough trouble overcoming my own limitations without fretting over the fact that God has not seen fit to distribute evenly the gift of intelligence.
  • Criticism is futile because it puts a person on the defensive and usually makes hom strive to justify himself. Criticism is dangerous because it wounds a person’s precious pride, hurt his sense of importance, and arouses resentment.
  • Hans Selye, another great psychologist, said, ‘As much as we thirst for approval, we dread condemnation.’
  • There is only one way under high heaven to get anybody to do anything….And that is by making the other person want to do it.
  • When dealing with people, let us remember we are not dealing with creatures of logic. We are dealing with creatures of emotion, creatures bristling with prejudices and motivated by pride and vanity.

Principle 2:  Give honest and sincere appreciation

  • But there is one longing — almost as deep, almost as imperious, as the desire for food or sleep — which is seldom gratified. It is what Freud calls ‘the desire to be great.’. It is what Dewey calls the ‘desire to be important.’
  • William James said: The deepest principle in human nature is the craving to be appreciated.
  • If you tell me how you get your feeling of importance, I’ll tell you what you are. That determine your character.
  • (Charles) Schwab says that he was paid this salary largely because of his ability to deal with people…. “I consider my ability to arouse enthusiasm among my people,” said Schwab, ‘the greatest asset I possess, and the way to develop the best best that is in a person is by appreciation and encouragement. There is nothing else that so kills the ambitions of a person as criticisms from superiors. I never criticise anyone. I believe in giving a person incentive to work. So I am anxious to praise but loath to find fault. If I like anything, I am hearty in my approbation and lavish in my praise.’
  • Sincere appreciation was one of the secrets of the first John D. Rockeller.
  • ‘Teach me neither to proffer nor receive cheap praise.’. That’s all flattery is — cheap praise. I once read a definition of flattery that may be worth repeating: ‘Flattery is tellong the other person precisely what he thinks about himself.”
  • In our interpersonal relations we should never forget that all our associates are himan beings and hunger for appreciation. It is the legal tender that all souls enjoy.
  • Honest appreciation got results where criticism and ridicule failed. Hurting people not only does not change them, it is never called for.
  • That he said, frankly, was one of the outstanding reasons for the phenomenal success of Andrew Carnegie. Carnegie praised his associates publicly as well as privately.
  • Sincere appreciation was one of the secrets of the first John D. Rockefeller’s success in handling men.

Principle 3: Arouse in another person an eager want

  • So the only way on earth to influence other people is to talk about what they want and show them how to get it.
  • Every act you have ever performed since the day you were born was performed because you wanted something.
  • Harry A. Overstreet in his illuminating book Influencing Human Behaviour said: ‘Action springs out of what we fundamentally desire… and the best piece of advice which can be given to would-be persuaders, whether in business, in the home, in the school, in politics, is: First, rouse in the other person an eager want. He who can do this has the whole world with him. He who cannot walks a lonely way.’
  • Tomorrow you may want to persuade somebody to do something. Before you speak, pause and ask yourself: ‘How can I make this person want to do it?’ That question will stop us from rushing into a situation heedlessly, with futile chatter about our desiers.
  • Here is one of the best bits of advice ever given about the fine art of human relationships. ‘If there is any one secret of success,’ said Henry Ford,’it lies in the ability to get the other person’s point of view and see things from that person’s angle as well as from your own.’
  • And if salespeople can show us how their services or merchandise will help us solve our problems, they won’t need to sell us. We’ll buy. And customers like to feel that they are buying — not being sold.
  • If out of reading this book you get just one thing — an increased tendency to think always in terms of other people’s point of view, and see things from their angle — if you get that one thing out of this book, it may easily prove to be one of the building blocks of your career.
  • Looking at the other person’s point of view and arousing in home an eager want for something is not to be construed as manipulating that person so that he will do something that is only for your benefit and his detriment. Each party should gain from the negotiation.
  • William Winter once remarked that ‘self-expression is the dominant necessity of human nature.’ Why can’t we adapt this same psychology to business dealing? When we have a brilliant idea, instead of making others think it is ours, why not let them cook and stir the idea themselves. They will then regard it as their own; they will like it and maybe eat a couple of helpings of it.



Principle 1: Become genuinely interested in other people

  • Alfred Adler, the famous Viennese psychologist, wrote a book entitled What Life Should Mean to You. In that book he says: ‘It is the individual who is not interested in his fellow men who has the greatest difficulties in life and provides the greatest injury to others. It is from among such individuals that all human failures spring.’
  • I have discovered from personal experience that one can win the attention and time and cooperation of even the most sought-after people by becoming genuinely interested in them.
  • All of us, be we workers in a factory, clerks in an office or even a king upon his throne — all of us like people who admire us.
  • If we want to make friends, let’s greet people with animation and enthusiasm.
  • If you want others to like you, if you want to develop real friendships, if you want to help others at the same time as you help yourself, keep this principle in mind.

Principle 2: Smile

  • You don’t feel like smiling? Then what? Two things: First, force yourself to smile. If you are alone, force yourself to whistle or hum a tune or sing. Act as if you were already happy, and that will tend to make you happy. Here is the way the psychologist and philosopher William James put it: ‘Action seems to follow feeling, but really action and feeling go together; and by regulating the action, which is under the more direct control of the will, we can indirectly regulate the feeling, which is not. Thus the sovereign voluntary path to cheerfulness, if our cheerfulness be lost, is to sit up cheerfully and to act and speak as if cheerfulness were already there…’
  • Everybody in the world is seeking happiness — and there is one sure way to find it. That is by controlling your thoughts. Happiness doesn’t depend on outward conditions. It depends on inner conditions.
  • ‘There is nothing either good or bad,’ said Shakespeare, ‘but thinking makes it so.
  • Abe Lincoln once remarked that ‘most folks are about as happy as they make up their minds to be.’
  • Elbert Hubbard: Whenever you go out-of-doors, draw the chin in, carry the crown of the head high, and fill the lungs to the utmost; drink in the sunshine; greet your friends with a smile, and put soul into every handclasp. Do not frar being misunderstood and do not waste a minute thinking about your enemies. Try to fix firmly in your mind what you would like to do; and then, without veering off direction, you will move straight to the goal. Keep your mind on the great and splendid things you would like to do, and then, as the days go gliding away, you will find yourself unconsciously seizing upon the opportunities that are required for the fulfillment of your desire, just as the coral insect takes from the running tide the element it needs. Picture in your mind the able, earnest, useful person you desire to be, and the thought you hold is hourly transforming you into that particular individual… Thought is supreme. Preserve a right mental attitude — the attitude of courage, frankness, and good cheer. To think rightly is to create. All things come through desire and every sincere prayer is answered. We become like that on which our hearts are fixed. Carry your chin in and the crown of your head high. We are gods in the chrysalis.
  • Chinese proverb: A man without a smiling face must not open a shop.

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

  • Remember that name and call it easily, and you have paid a subtle and very effective compliment.
  • “To recall a voter’s name is statemanship. To forget it is oblivion.”
  • And the ability to remember names is almost as important in business and social contacts as it is in politics.
  • We should be aware of the magic contained in a name and realise that thing single item is wholly and completely owned by the person whom we are dealing… and nobody else.

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

  • I had listened intently. I had listened because I was genuinely interested. And he felt it. Naturally that pleased him. That kind of listening is one of the highest compliments we can pay anyone.
  • As the Reader’s Digest once said: ‘Many persons call a doctor when all they want is an audience.’
  • If you want to know how to make people shun 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.
  • So if you aspire to be a good conversationalist, be an attentive listener. To be interesting, be interested. Ask questions that other persons will enjoy answering. Encourage them to talk about themselves and their accomplishments.
  • Remember that the people you are talking to are a hundred times more interested in themselves and their wants and problems than they are in you and your problems.

Principle 5: Talk in terms of the other person’s interests

  • For Roosevelt knew, as all leaders know, that the royal road to a person’s heart is to talk about the things he or she treasures the most.
  • ‘”Because he is a gentleman. He saw you were interested in boats and he talked about the things he knew would interest and please you. He made himself agreeable.”‘

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

  • Always make the other person feel important.   John Dewey, as we have already noted, said that the desire to be important is the deepest urge in human nature; and William James said: ‘The deepest principle in human nature is the craving to be appreciated.’
  • ‘Do unto others as you would have others do unto you.’
  • Little phrases such as ‘I’m sorry to trouble you,’ ‘Would you be so kind as to –?’ ‘Won’t you please?’ ‘Would you mind?’ ‘Thank you’ — little courtesies like these oil the cogs of the monotonous grind of everyday life — and incidentally, they are the hallmark of a good breeding.
  • The life of many a person could probably be changed if only someone would make him feel important.
  • The unvarnished truth is that almost all the people you meet feel themselves superior to you in some way, and a sure way to their hearts is to let them realise their importance, and recognise it sincerely.



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

  • A man convinced against his will is of the same opinion still.
  • As wise old Ben Franklin used to say: If you argue and rankle and contradict, you may achieve a victory sometimes; but it will be an empty victory because you will never get your opponent’s good will.
  • …some suggestions are made on how to keep a disagreement from becoming an argument’
  • Welcome the disagreement. Remember the slogan, ‘When two partners always agree, one of them is not necessary.
  • Distrust your first instinctive impression…. Keep calm and watch out for your first reaction. It may be you at your worst, not your best.
  • Control your temper. Remember, you can measure the size of a person by what makes him or her angry.
  • Listen first.
  • Do not resist, defend or debate…. Try to build bridges of understanding.
  • Look for areas of agreement.
  • Be honest. Look for areas where you can admit error and say so. Apologize for your mistakes. It will help disarm your opponents and reduce defensiveness.
  • Promise to think over your opponents’s ideas and study them carefully.
  • Thank your opponents sincerely for their interest.
  • Postpone action to give both sides time to think through the problem.

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

  • …and if you tell them they are wrong, do you make them want to agree with you? Never! For you have struck a direct blow at their intelligence, judgement, pride and self-respect.
  • Never begin by announcing ‘I am going to prove so-and-so to you.’ That is a challenge. It arouses opposition and makes the listener want to battle with you before you even start.
  • If you are going to prove anything, don’t let anybody know it. Do it so subtly, so adroitly, that no one will feel that you are doing it. This was expressed succintly by Alexander Pope: Men must be taught as if you taught them not
  • …isn’t it better to begin by saying: ‘Well, now, look. I thought otherwise but I may be wrong. I frequently am. And if I am wrong, I want to be put right. Let’s examine the facts.’
  • There’s magic, positive magic, in such phrases as: ‘I may be wrong, I frequently am. Let’s examine the facts.’
  • You will never get into trouble by admitting that you may be wrong. That will stop all argument and inspire your opponent to be just as fair and open and broad-minded as you are. It will make him want to admit that he too may be wrong.
  • ‘I am convinced now that nothing good is accomplished and a lot of damage can be done if you tell a person straight out that he or she is wrong. You only succeed in stripping that person of self-dignity and making yourself an unwelcome part of any discussion.
  • King Akhtoi of Egypt gave his son some shrewd advice — advice that is sorely needed today, ‘Be diplomatic,’ counselled the King, ‘It will help you gain your point.’
  • …don’t argue with your customer or your spouse or your adversary. Don’t tell them they are wrong, don’t get them stirred up. Use a little diplomacy.

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

  • Say about yourself all the derogatory things you know the other person is thinking or wants to say or intends to say — and say them before that person has a chance to say them. The chances are a hundred to one that a generous, forgiving attitude will be taken and your mistakes will be minimised…
  • There is certain degree of satisfaction in having the courage to admit one’s errors. It not only clears the air of guilt and defensiveness, but often helps solve the problem created by the error.

Principle 4: Begin in a friendly way.

  • If a man’s heart is rankling with discord and ill feeling toward you, you can’t win him to your way of thinking…They may be possibly led to, if we are gentle and friendly, ever so gentle and ever so friendly.
  • Abraham Lincoln: A drop of honey catches more flies than a gallon of gall.
  • The sun can make you take off your coat more quickly than the wind; and kindliness, the friendly approach and appreciation can make people change their minds more readily than all the bluster and storming in the world.

Principle 5: Get the other person saying ‘yes, yes’ immediately

  • In talking with people, don’t begin by discussing the things on which you differ. Begin by emphasising — and keep on emphasising — the things on which you agree. Keep emphasising, if possible, that you are both striving for the same end and that your only difference is one of method and not of purpose.
  • Get the other person saying ‘Yes, yes’ at the outset. Keep your opponent, if possible, from saying ‘No.’
  • The skillful speaker gets, at the outset, a number of ‘Yes’ responses. This sets the psychological process of the listeners moving in the affirmative direction.
  • His whole technique, now called the ‘Socratic method,’ was based upon getting a ‘yes, yes’ response.
  • The Chinese have a proverb pregnant with the age-old wisdom of the Orient: ‘He who treads softly goes far.’

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

  • Let them do the talking…So listen patiently and with an open mind. Be sincere about it. Encourage them to express their ideas fully.
  • Almost every successful person likes to reminisce about his early struggles.
  • Even our friends would much rather talk to is about their achievements than listen to us boast about ours.
  • La Rochefoucauld, the French philosopher, said: ‘If you want enemies, excel your friends; but if you want friends, let your friends excel you.’ Why is that true? Because when our friends excel us, they feel important; but when we excel them, they — or at least some of them — will feel inferior and envious.

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

  • Don’t you have much more faith in idead that you discover for yourself than in ideas that are handed to you on a silver platter? If so, isn’t it bad judgement to try to ram your opinions down the throats of other people!
  • ‘Consulting them about their wishes and desires was just the shot in the arm they needed.’
  • No one likes to feel that he or she is being sold something or told to do a thing. We much prefer to feel that we are buying of our own accord or acting on our own ideas. We like to be consulted about our wishes, our wants, our thoughts.
  • Lao-tse: ‘The reason why rivers and seas receive the homage of a hundred mountaain 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.’

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

  • ‘…you will have grasped the only solid foundation of interpersonal relationships; namely, that success in dealing with people depends on sympathetic grasp of the other person’s viewpoint.’
  • Ask yourself: ‘Why should he or she want to do it?’
  • Dean Donham of the Harvard business school: I would rather walk the sidewalk in front 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.
  • If, as a result of reading this book, you get only one thing — an increased tendency to think always in terms of the other person’s point of view, and see things from that person’s angle, as well as your own — if you get only one thing from this book, it may easily prove to be one of the stepping-stones of your career.

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

  • Wouldn’t you like to have a magic phrase that would stop arguments, eliminate ill feeling, 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.’
  • Three -fourths of the people you will ever meet are hungering and thirsting for sympathy. Give it to them, and they will love you.
  • Dr. Arthur I. Gates: ‘Sympathy them human species universally craves. The child eagerly displays his injury…’

Principle 10: Appeal to the nobler motives

Principle 11: Dramatise your ideas.

  • The truth has to be made vivid, interesting, dramatic. You to use showmanship.

Principle 12: Throw down a challenge.

  • Charles Schwab: ‘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.’
  • Frederic Herzberg…studied in depth the work attitudes of thousands of people…. The one major factor that motivates people was work itself. If the work was exciting and interesting, the worker looked forward to doing it and was motivated to do a good job.
  • That is what every successful person loves: the game. The chance for self-expression. The chance to prove his or her worth, to excel, to win.
  • The desire for a feeling of importance.



Principle 1: 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.
  • Beginning with praise is like the dentist who begins his work with Novocain.

Principle 2: An effective way to correct other’s mistakes is call attention to people mistakes indirectly.

  • …changing the word ‘but’ to ‘and.’
  • …she praised it and at the same time subtly suggested that it would do…

Principle 3: A good leader follows this: talk about your own mistakes before criticising the other person.

  • Humility and praise…rightfully used, they will work veritable miracles in himan relations.
  • Admitting one’s own mistakes — even when one hasn’t corrected them — can help convince somebody to change his behaviour.

Principle 4: Ask questions instead of giving direct orders.

  • He (Owen D. Young) always gave suggestions, not orders. He would say, ‘You might consider this,’ or ‘Do you think that would work?’. He always gave people the opportunity to do things themselves; he never told his assistants to do things; he let them do them, let them learn from their mistakes.
  • A technique like that saves a person’s pride and gives him or her a feeling of importance. It encourages cooperation instead of rebellion.
  • Asking questions not only makes an order more palatable, it often stimulates the creativity of the person whom you ask.
  • People are more likely to accept order if they have had a part in the decision that cause the order to be issued.

Principle 5: Let the other person save face.

  • Antoine de Saint-Exupery: ‘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.’

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

  • B. F. Skinner: ‘when criticism is minimised and praise emphasised, the good things people do will be reinforced and the poorer things will atrophy for lack of attention.’
  • Everybody likes to be praised, but when praise is specific, it comes across as sincere.
  • Let me repead: The principles taught in this book will work only when they come from the heart.
  • William James: ‘Compared with what we ought to be, we are only half awake. We are making use of only a small part of our physical and mental resources…’

Principle 7: Give the other person a reputation to live up to.

  • Samuel Vauclain: ‘The average person can be led readily if you have his or her respect and if you show that you respect that person for some kind of ability.’
  • In short, if you want to improve a person in a certain respect, act as though that particular trait were already one of his or her outstanding characteristics.
  • Shakespeare: ‘Assume a virtue, if you have it not.’
  • Give them fine reputation to live ip to, and they will make prodigious efforts rather than see you disillusioned.

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

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

  • Always make the other person happy about the thing you suggest.
  • …he didn’t give thr other person any time to feel unhappy about the refusal. He immediately changed the other person’s thoughts to some other speaker who coudl accept…
  • This technique of giving titles and authority work for Napoleon…
  • The effective leader should keep the following guidelines in mind when it is necessary to change attitude:

1. Be sincere. Do not promise anythint that you cannot deliver.
2. Know exactly what it is you want the other person to do.
3. Be empathetic.
4. Consider the benefits that person will receive from doing what you suggest.
5. Match those benefits to the other person’s wants.
6. When you make a request, put it in a form that will convey to the other person the idea that he personally will benefit.


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