How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie Book Review

By Cory Davis

This is a review of the Special Anniversary Edition, published by Pocket Books, 1982.

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“It is a vibrant, engaging read full of story-telling”

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This book immediately caught my attention by providing instructions on how to read it. It does this with nine techniques. The first is to approach the book deeply motivated to improve your human relations skills. Therefore, Carnegie urges us to read this book purposefully. If you are like me, on a journey to improve your communications and relations skills, this book may be for you.

Why would you want to win friends and influence people in the first place?

Some may gawk at this question. I am one of you. However, my best friend messaged me the other day. He noted his lack of interest in this book. Some people, he asserted, don’t really care about other people’s opinion of them and lack any drive or motive to influence others.

Fair enough. This book may not be for everyone. However, if you are one of those people who lacks a desire to influence others or win friends, consider this. Regardless of the fabric of your relationship to society, the advice covered in this book (and other related titles) will make your life easier.

It will make your life easier by reducing unnecessary conflict, as you will now have tools to avoid it, and better yet, capitalize on them. It will reduce friction between yourself and other people, making interactions more smooth, less energy intensive and emotionally draining. It helps you get what you fairly want from others. If you are a customer, legitimately dissatisfied with a service or product, use these skills to get the compensation you deserve. If you are about to enter an argument with your partner, learn to avoid it and improve your family relationships.

For those who want their lives to be easier, more fruitful, brimming with opportunity, then read this book.  It provides advice, fables, stories, and quotes that you won’t forget.

The stories, fables and quotes will give you ammunition for self-improvement and words of wisdom to share with others. There is power in story-telling. So load your guns with meaningful stories to share with your friends, family and foes.

What does the book promise?

This book promises the reader a guide for interpersonal communications to win friends and influence people. It does not promise that you will become an expert communicator after reading the book. It merely serves as a reference to use in practice, to assist in your personal development as a leader in business, community, or your personal network.

How does it deliver on its promise?

It delivers on its promise by splitting the book up into four parts, each with several principles to follow. Each principle is demonstrated through stories, fables, quotes and gems of wisdom, which keeps the readers interest.

  1. Fundamental Techniques on Handling People

The first part of the book provides three techniques – (1) don’t criticize, condemn, or complain, (2) give honest and sincere appreciation, and (3) arouse in the other person an eager want. This part of the book was gripping. Especially the first principle – Don’t criticize, condemn, or complain. On Twitter, I see constant criticism counter to the goals of the person criticizing. I am guilty of this as well. It gave me a good opportunity to reflect on my past behaviour and ask how I could do things differently next time. Perhaps my favourite aspect of this first part is the powerful quotes it provides. For example, one impactful quote is:

“There you are; human nature in action, wrongdoers, blaming everyone but themselves. We are all like that… Let’s realize that criticisms are like homing pigeons. They always return home. Let’s realize that the person we are trying to correct and condemn will probably justify himself or herself and condemn us in return.”

2. Six Ways to Make People Like You

The second part of the book is also impactful. It provides six ways to make people to like you. It may seem egotistical, but being liked can be a tool for influence, efficiency and effectiveness in business and your day to day life. They are simple things that we all likely know somewhere in our subconscious. Some principles to get people to like you are as simple as smiling, remembering names, and showing genuine interest in others. It showcases these principles through story telling. The author gives several short examples demonstrating the positive impact using them can have. Although the book is old, the examples still seem relevant and effective.

It seems funny that that some of us need to be told to be an attentive listener, to be one. I always thought of myself as a good listener. However, after reading how Dale Carnegie articulated what a good listener is, and demonstrating how and why it works, I know exactly where I need to improve. Many people think they are good communicators. Most business students state that it is a highlight of their skillset. I see it in almost every cover letter. Many do not realize that it is a real skill that takes time and attention to develop, a field of study that needs to be taken seriously. But if you don’t know how to articulate how and why you are a good communicator, with examples and results, then re-examining your own behaviour against advice from books like these may be of real benefit.

3. 12 Ways to Win People Over to Your Thinking

The third part of the book gives 12 principles to win people over to your thinking. Keep in mind that if your way of thinking is wrong, the content of this book will help you identify this as a safety mechanism to save face. The last thing we want is to win someone to your way of thinking when your way of thinking is wrong. All the principles provided here resonate with me. One highlight was the Socrates method of getting people to say yes, yes at the beginning. Give them some things that both of you can agree on, so the other person can say yes, that’s right, yes. This triggers a psychological process that lowers barriers to affirmation. Whereas if you start with points of disagreement, and the other person says no, it starts a psychological process that reaffirms their initial position and makes them more disagreeable. These initial moments in a conversation can set the foundation for the rest of the dialogue to build.

Another highlight for me was a reminder to let the other person do a great deal of talking. Don’t interrupt, unless they pause for a response, in which you should encourage them to speak more. It shows interest in the other person. Some people try to persuade others by talking too much, however, there is power in giving others a friendly, considerate, and attentive ear to speak.

4. Nine Principles to be a Good Leader

The fourth part of the book gives you nine principles to be a good leader. This section was again insightul. Some highlights for me were “How to criticize without being hated”, and “Give the other person a fine reputation to live up to”. How to criticize without being hated is something we all struggle with. The advice here is to provide criticism indirectly, giving many examples as tools to put this into practice. Giving the other person a fine reputation to live up to also makes sense. Would you be encouraged if your boss introduced you as an expert in some area? Would that motivate you to live up to that reputation? It would work for me.

Favourite Quotes:

“There you are; human nature in action, wrongdoers, blaming everyone but themselves. We are all like that… Let’s realize that criticisms are like homing pigeons. They always return home. Let’s realize that the person we are trying to correct and condemn will probably justify himself or herself and condemn us in return.” – Dale Carnegie

“Judge not, that ye be not judged” – Abraham Lincoln

“Don’t criticize them. They are just what we would be under similar circumstances” – Abraham Lincoln

“Don’t complain about the snow on your neighbour’s roof, when you own doorstep is unclean” – Confucius

“Your bad manners are exceeded only by your bad manners.” Richard Harding Davis to Dale Carnegie

“Any fool can criticize, condemn and complain – and most fools do. But it takes character and control to be understanding and forgiving.” – Dale Carnegie

“A great man shows his greatness, by the way he treats little men” – 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 than criticism; and breeds sympathy, tolerance, and kindness” – Dale Carnegie

“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” – Henry Ford

“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 (she) has little competition” – Dale Carnegie

The unvarnished truth is that almost all the people you meet feel themselves superior to you in some way, a sure way into their hearts is to let them realize in some subtle way that you recognize their importance, and recognize it sincerely” – Dale Carnegie

“…the expression one wears on one’s face is far more important than the clothes one wears on one’s back” – Dale Carnegie

“Men must be taught as if you taught them not. And things unknown proposed as things forgot” – Alexander Pope

“You cannot teach a man anything; you can only help him find it within himself” – Galileo

“Be wiser than other people if you can, but do not tell him so” – Lord Chesterfield said to his son

“One thing only I know, and that is that I know nothing” – Socrates “Well, I can’t hope to be any smarter than Socrates, so I have quit telling people they are wrong. And I find that it pays.” – Dale Carnegie

“If you argue and rankle and contradict, you may achieve victory sometimes; but it will be an empty victory because you will never get your opponent’s good will” – Ben Franklin

“So figure it out for yourself. Which would you rather have, an academic, theatrical victory or a person’s good will? You can seldom have both.” – Dale Carnegie

“Hatred is never ended by hatred, but by love” – Buddha

“A misunderstanding is never ended by an argument, but by tact, diplomacy, conciliation, and a sympathetic desire to see the other person’s point of view.” Dale Carnegie

“Cooperativeness in conversation is achieved when you show that you consider the other person’s ideas and feelings as important as your own. Starting your conversation by giving the other person the purpose or direction of your conversation, governing what you say by that you would want to hear if you were the listener, and accepting his or her viewpoint will encourage the listener to have an open mind to your ideas.” – Dr. Gerald S. Nirenberg

“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 Carnegie

“ Praise is like sunlight to the warm human spirit; we cannot flower and grow without it. And yet, while most of us are only 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, Psychologist

“Abilities wither with criticism; they blossom under encouragement” – Dale Carnegie


This book resonated with me in several ways. First, it articulated things I felt but lacked the experience and wisdom think. Now that it is within my sphere of thought, I will become more cognizant of my own behaviour. Second, the fables, stories and quotes really hit home. I have already cited some of these to family and friends in conversation, with great results! Third, it was fun to read. The book is not a bland outline of how to win friends and influence people. It is a vibrant, engaging read full of story-telling.

For anyone who wants to improve their interpersonal skills, give it a try!

Thank you so much for reading this review, I deeply appreciate it. If you liked this review, please subscribe to my blog, give it a like and follow me on Twitter @interestpeaks. I would love to hear your thoughts, opinions, or questions down in the comments.

One thought on “How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie Book Review

  1. Pingback: Dale Carnegie’s Advice on How To Be Liked At Work… Let’s Change The World By Following It | Interest Peaks

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