How to Win Friends and Influence People


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  • ISBN: 978-0671425173
  • My Rating: 6/10

How to Win Friends and Influence People is a book about human relations and how to improve them.

I was a bit disappointed by How to Win Friends and Influence People because it didn't meet the high expectations I had due to all the praise the book receives. While most of the advice is sound (and some of it has become common-sense since the 1930s when the book was originally written), I didn't like the writing style with its many anecdotes.

My notes

How This Book Was Written - And Why

Dealing with people is probably the biggest problem you face, especially if you are in business.

[...] even in such technical lines as engineering, about 15 percent of one's financial success is due to one's technical knowledge and about 85 percent is due to skill in human engineering – to personality and the ability to lead people.

One can for example, hire mere technical ability in engineering, accountancy, architecture or any other profession at nominal salaries. But the person who has technical knowledge plus the ability to express ideas, to assume leadership, and to arouse enthusiasm among people – that person is headed for higher earning power.

Nine Suggestions on How to Get the Most Out of This Book

If you teach a man anything, he will never learn.

Bernard Shaw

Fundamental Techniques in Handling People

"If You Want to Gather Honey, Don't Kick Over the Beehive"

Criticism is futile because it puts a person on the defensive and usually makes him strive to justify himself. Criticism is dangerous, because it wounds a person's precious pride, hurts his sense of importance, and arouses resentment.

By criticizing, we do not make lasting changes and often incur resentment.

The resentment that criticism engenders can demoralize employees, family members and friends, and still not correct the situation that has been condemned.

Don't complain about the snow on your neighbor's roof, when your own doorstep is unclean.


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.

Any fool can criticize, condemn and complain – and most fools do. But it takes character and self-control to be understanding and forgiving.

A great man shows his greatness by the way he treats little men.

Thomas Carlyle

Instead of condemning people, let's try to understand them. Let's try to figure out why they do what they do. That's a lot more profitable and intriguing than criticism; and it breeds sympathy, tolerance and kindness.

The Big Secret of Dealing With People

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.

The only way I can get you to do anything is by giving you what you want. [...] What do you want? Not many things, but the few that you do wish, you crave with an insistence that will not be denied. Some of the things most people want include:

  1. Health and the preservation of life.
  2. Food.
  3. Sleep.
  4. Money and the things money will buy.
  5. Life in the hereafter.
  6. Sexual gratification.
  7. The well-being of our children.
  8. A feeling of importance.
Almost all these wants are usually gratified – all except one. 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".

If you tell me how you get your feeling of importance, I'll tell you what you are. That determines your character. That is the most significant thing about you.

If some people are so hungry for a feeling of importance that they actually go insane to get it, imagine what miracle you and I can achieve by giving people honest appreciation this side of insanity.

"I consider my ability to arouse enthusiasm among my people", said Schwab, "the greatest asset I possess, and the way to develop the best that is in a person is by appreciation and encouragement. There is nothing else that so kills the ambitions of a person as criticism from superiors. I never criticize 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."

"In my wide association in life, meeting with many and great people in various parts of the world", Schwab declared, "I have yet to find the person, however great or exalted his station, who did not do better work and put forth greater effort under a spirit of approval than he would ever do under a spirit of criticism."

Of course flattery seldom works with discerning people. It is shallow, selfish and insincere. It ought to fail and it usually does.

In the long run, flattery will do you more harm than good. Flattery is counterfeit, and like counterfeit money, it will eventually get you into trouble if you pass it to someone else.

The difference between appreciation and flattery? That is simple. One is sincere and the other insincere. One comes from the heart out; the other from the teeth out. One is unselfish; the other selfish. One is universally admired; the other universally condemned.

Don't be afraid of enemies who attack you. Be afraid of the friends who flatter you.

Alvaro Obregon

In our interpersonal relations we should never forget that all our associates are human beings and hunger for appreciation. It is the legal tender that all souls enjoy.

Try leaving a friendly trail of little sparks of gratitude on your daily trips. You will be surprised how they will set small flames of friendship that will be rose beacons on your next visit.

Hurting people not only does not change them, it is never called for.

Let's cease thinking of our accomplishments, our wants. Let's try to figure out the other person's good points. Then forget flattery. Give honest, sincere appreciation.

"He Who Can Do This Has The Whole World With Him. He Who Cannot Walks a Lonely Way"

Why talk about what we want? That is childish. Absurd. Of course, you are interested in what you want. You are eternally interested in it. But no one else is. The rest of us are just like you: we are interested in what we 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.

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?"

"If there is any one secret of success, 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."

Thousands of salespeople are pounding the pavements today, tired, discouraged and underpaid. Why? Because they are always thinking only of what they want. They don't realize that neither you nor I want to buy anything. If we did, we would go out and buy it. But both of us are eternally interested in solving our problems. 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.

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.

Looking at the other person's point of view and arousing in him 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.

Ways to Make People Like You

Do This and You'll Be Welcome Anywhere

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.

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 put ourselves out to do things for other people – things that require time, energy, unselfishness and thoughtfulness.

If we want to make friends, let's greet people with animation and enthusiasm. When somebody calls you on the telephone use the same psychology. Say "Hello" in tones that bespeak how pleased YOU are to have the person call.

Showing a genuine interest in others not only wins friends for you, but may develop in its customers a loyalty to your company.

"We are interested in others when they are interested in us."

A show of interest, as with every other principle of human relations, must be sincere. It must pay off not only for the person showing the interest, but for the person receiving the attention. It is a two-way street – both parties benefit.

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: Become genuinely interested in other people.

A Simple Way to Make a Good First Impression

[...] the expression one wears on one's face is far more important than the clothes one wears on one's back.

Actions speak louder than words, and a smile says, "I like you, You make me happy. I am glad to see you." [...] An insincere grin? No. That doesn't fool anybody. We know it is mechanical and we resent it. I am talking about a real smile, a heartwarming smile, a smile that comes from within, the kind of smile that will bring a good price in the marketplace.

[...] people rarely succeed at anything unless they have fun doing it.

You must have a good time meeting people if you expect them to have a good time meeting you.

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. It isn't what you have or who you are or where you are or what you are doing that makes you happy or unhappy. It is what you think about it.

"A man without a smiling face must not open a shop."

Your smile is a messenger of your good will. Your smile brightens the lives of all who see it.

If You Don't Do This, You Are Headed For Trouble

[...] the average person is more interested in his or her own name than in all the other names on earth put together. Remember that name and call it easily, and you have paid a subtle and very effective compliment. But forget it or misspell it – and you have placed yourself at a sharp disadvantage.

Most people don't remember names, for the simple reason that they don't take the time and energy necessary to concentrate and repeat and fix names indelibly in their minds. They make excuses for themselves; they are too busy.

Franklin D. Roosevelt knew that one of the simplest, most obvious and most important ways of gaining good will was by remembering names and making people feel important – yet how many of us do it?

One of the first lessons a politician learns is this: "To recall a voter's name is statesmanship. 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.

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

An Easy Way to Become a Good Conversationalist

[...] I had done this: 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.

Listening is just as important in one's home life as in the world of business.

[...] many people fail to make a favorable impression because they don't listen attentively.

[...] he had wanted merely a friendly, sympathetic listener to whom he could unburden himself. That's what we all want when we are in trouble. That is frequently all the irritated customer wants, and the dissatisfied employee or the hurt friend.

People who talk only of themselves think only of themselves.

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.

How to Interest People

Whenever Roosevelt expected a visitor, he sat up late the night before, reading up on the subject in which he knew his guest was particularly interested. 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 most.

Talking in terms of the other person's interests pays off for both parties.

How to Make People Like You Instantly

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 &nd; if our souls are no bigger than sour crab apples, we shall meet with the failure we so richly deserve.

Always make the other person feel important.

You want the approval of those with whom you come in contact. You want recognition of your true worth. You want a feeling that you are important in your little world. You don't want to listen to cheap, insincere flattery, but you do crave sincere appreciation.

So let's obey the Golden Rule, and give unto others what we would have others give unto us. How? When? Where? The answer is: All the time, everywhere.

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 realize in some subtle way that you recognize their importance, and recognize it sincerely.

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

How to Win People to Your Way of Thinking

You Can't Win an Argument

"Why prove to a man he is wrong? Is that going to make him like you? Why not let him save his face? He didn't ask for your opinion. He didn't want it. Why argue with him? Always avoid the acute angle."

[...] there is only one way under high heaven to get the best of an argument – and that is to avoid it.

You can't win an argument. You can't because if you lose it, you lose it; and if you win it, you lose it. Why? Well, suppose you triumph over the other man and shoot his argument full of holes [...]. Then what? You will feel fine. But what about him? You have made him feel inferior. You have hurt his pride. He will resent your triumph.

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.

Benjamin Franklin

[...] a misunderstanding is never ended by an argument but by tact, diplomacy, conciliation and a sympathetic desire to see the other person's viewpoint.

Welcome the disagreement. Remember the slogan, "When two partners always agree, one of them is not necessary." If there is some point you haven't thought about, be thankful if it is brought to your attention. Perhaps this disagreement is your opportunity to be corrected before you make a serious mistake.

Our first natural reaction in a disagreeable situation is to be defensive. Be careful. Keep calm and watch out for your first reaction. It may be you at your worst, not your best.

Thank your opponents sincerely for their interest. Anyone who takes the time to disagree with you is interested in the same things you are. Think of them as people who really want to help you, and you may turn your opponents into friends.

A Sure Way of Making Enemies – And How to Avoid It

You can tell people they are wrong by a look or an intonation or a gesture just as eloquently as you can in words – 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, judgment, pride and self-respect. That will make them want to strike back. But it will never make them want to change their minds.

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.

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

Galileo Galilei

Be wiser than other people if you can; but do not tell them so.

Lord Chesterfield

One thing only I know, and that is that I know nothing.


If a person makes a statement that you think is wrong – yes, even that you know is wrong – 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."

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.

Show respect for the other person's opinions. Never say, "You're wrong."

If You're Wrong, Admit It

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 minimized [...].

There is a 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.

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.

A Drop of Honey

If a man's heart is rankling with discord and ill feeling toward you, you can't win him to your way of thinking with all the logic in Christendom. Scolding parents and domineering bosses and husbands and nagging wives ought to realize that people don't want to change their minds. They can't be forced or driven to agree with you or me. But they may possibly be led to, if we are gentle and friendly, ever so gentle and ever so friendly.

The Secret of Socrates

In talking with people, don't begin by discussing the things on which you differ. Begin by emphasizing – and keep on emphasizing – the things on which you agree. Keep emphasizing, 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". A "No" response [...] is a most difficult handicap to overcome. When you have said "No", all your pride of personality demands that you remain consistent with yourself. You may later feel that the "No" was ill-advised; nevertheless, there is your precious pride to consider! Once having said a thing, you feel you must stick to it. Hence it is of the very greatest importance that a person be started in the affirmative direction.

The Safety Valve in Handling Complaints

Most people trying to win others to their way of thinking do too much talking themselves. Let the other people talk themselves out. They know more about their business and problems than you do. So ask them questions. Let them tell you a few things. If you disagree with them you may be tempted to interrupt. But don't. It is dangerous. They won't pay attention to you while they still have a lot of ideas of their own crying for expression. So listen patiently and with an open mind. Be sincere about it. Encourage them to express their ideas fully.

Even our friends would much rather talk to us 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.

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

How to Get Cooperation

Don't you have much more faith in ideas that you discover for yourself than in ideas that are handed to you on a silver platter? If so, isn't it bad judgment to try to ram your opinions down the throats of other people? Isn't it wiser to make suggestions – and let the other person think out the conclusion?

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.

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

A Formula That Will Work Wonders for You

Remember that other people may be totally wrong. But they don't think so. Don't condemn them. Any fool can do that. Try to understand them. Only wise, tolerant, exceptional people even try to do that. 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. Try honestly to put yourself in his place. If you say to yourself, "How would I feel, how would I react if I were in his shoes?" you will save yourself time and irritation, for "by becoming interested in the cause, we are less likely to dislike the effect."

Tomorrow, before asking anyone to put out a fire or buy your product or contribute to your favorite charity, why not pause and close your eyes and try to think the whole thing through from another person's point of view? Ask yourself: "Why should he or she want to do it?"

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

What Everybody Wants

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? Yes? All right. 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." An answer like that will soften the most cantankerous old cuss alive. And you can say that and be 100 percent sincere, because if you were the other person you, of course, would feel just as he does.

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

An Appeal That Everybody Likes

[...] all people you meet have a high regard for themselves and like to be fine and unselfish in their own estimation.

[...] a person usually has two reasons for doing a thing: one that sounds good and a real one. The person himself will think of the real reason. You don't need to emphasize that. But all of us, being idealists at heart, like to think of motives that sound good. So, in order to change people, appeal to the nobler motives.

The Movies Do It. TV Does It. Why Don't You Do It?

Merely stating a truth isn't enough. The truth has to be made vivid, interesting, dramatic. You have to use showmanship. The movies do it. Television does it. And you will have to do it if you want attention.

Dramatize your ideas.

When Nothing Else Works, Try This

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.

Be a Leader: How to Change People Without Giving Offense or Arousing Resentment

If You Must Find Fault, This is the Way to Begin

It is always easier to listen to unpleasant things after we have heard some praise of our good points.

Begin with praise and honest appreciation.

How to Criticize - and Not Be Hated for It

Calling attention to one's mistakes indirectly works wonders with sensitive people who may resent bitterly any direct criticism.

Talk About Your Own Mistakes First

It isn't nearly so difficult to listen to a recital of your faults if the person criticizing begins by humbly admitting that he, too, is far from impeccable.

Admitting one's own mistakes – even when one hasn't corrected them – can help convince somebody to change his behavior.

Talk about your own mistakes before criticizing the other person.

No One Likes to Take Orders

Asking questions not only makes an order more palatable; it often stimulates the creativity of the persons whom you ask. People are more likely to accept an order if they have had a part in the decision that caused the order to be issued.

Ask questions instead of giving direct orders.

Let the Other Person Save Face

Letting one save face! How important, how vitally important that is! And how few of us ever stop to think of it! We ride roughshod over the feelings of others, getting our own way, finding fault, issuing threats, criticizing a child or an employee in front of others, without even considering the hurt to the other person's pride. Whereas a few minutes' thought, a considerate word or two, a genuine understanding of the other person's attitude, would go so far toward alleviating the sting!

Even if we are right and the other person is definitely wrong, we only destroy ego by causing someone to lose face.

How to Spur People on to Success

Let us praise even the slightest improvement. That inspires the other person to keep on improving.

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 sunshine of praise.

Jess Lair

Everybody likes to be praised, but when praise is specific, it comes across as sincere – not something the other person may be saying just to make one feel good.

Abilities wither under criticism; they blossom under encouragement.

Give a Dog a Good Name

[...] 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.

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

Make the Fault Seem Easy to Correct

Tell your child, your spouse, or your employee that he or she is stupid or dumb at a certain thing, has no gift for it, and is doing it all wrong, and you have destroyed almost every incentive to try to improve. But use the opposite technique – 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.

Making People Glad to Do What You Want

Always make the other person happy about doing the thing you suggest.

The effective leader should keep the following guidelines in mind when it is necessary to change attitudes or behavior:

  1. Be sincere. Do not promise anything that you cannot deliver. Forget about the benefits to yourself and concentrate on the benefits to the other person.
  2. Know exactly what it is you want the other person to do.
  3. Be empathetic. Ask yourself what is it the other person really wants.
  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 your request, put it in a form that will convey to the other person the idea that he personally will benefit.