Wisdom of Dale Carnegie – How to win friends and influence people

Highlights and takeaways from the first and best book of its kind.


Dale Carnegie’s How to Win Friends an Influence People covers the fundamentals to help improve interpersonal relationships and human relations.

As a book that is close to 100 years old, it is the G.O.A.T. of all self help books.

Believe it or not, I didn’t write this blog post for you to read. I wrote it for me to read and re-read.

Summarizing the book cannot be done – the stories, ideas, and writings are valuable when consumed in way Dale Carnegie originally penned.

To get the value of the book, you must read the whole thing. At around 250 pages or so, it’s a quick read. The ROI of glancing through the pages for even 5 minutes a day is well worth the time.

While this blog post cannot hope to capture Mr. Carnegie’s wisdom in its entirety, the quotes and highlights below are those that I’ve underlined over the years in my copy of How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie

Organized as a tool for myself to make some of the ideas easier to review and remember, perhaps others may find these passages impactful as well – hence, this public blog post.

“The principles taught in this book will work only when they come from the heart.” – Dale Carnegie

Techniques in Handling People

Principle 1: Don’t criticize, condemn, or complain.


  • Practice empathy, put yourself in the other person’s shoes to better understand their feelings, thoughts, and perspectives. See things from the other person’s point of view.
  • Complaining is the opposite of productive – conversations that lead to complaining are the global-minima of conversation topics – and its an easy topic to fall into.
  • Seek to genuinely understand others, rather than criticizing, condemning, or complaining.
  • Be nice to people.


  • “God has not seen fit to distribute evenly the gift of intelligence”
  • “An animal rewarded for good behavior will learn more effectively than an animal punished for bad behavior”
  • “the person we are going to correct and condemn will probably justify himself, and condemn us in return”
  • “A great man shows his greatness by the way he treats little men” – Carlyle
  • “I will speak ill of no man, and speak all the good I know of everybody” – Benjamin Franklin
  • “Let’s try to understand them. Let’s try to figure out why they do what they do… it breeds sympathy, tolerance, and kindness”
  • “God himself does not propose to judge man till his end of days. Why should you and I?”

Principle 2: Give honest and sincere appreciation


  • Make the other person feel important.
  • People learn better when rewarded for what they did well, rather than scolded for something they did poorly.
  • Sincerity is paramount. Avoid flattery, avoid praise that is not genuine.


  • “There is only one way in high heaven to get anybody to do anything. And that is by making the other person want to do it.”
  • “The deepest urge in human nature is the desire to be important.”
  • “The deepest principle in human nature is the desire to be appreciated.”
  • “If you tell me how you get your feeling of importance, I’ll tell you what you are. That determines your character.”
  • “Most people who go insane find in insanity a feeling of importance that they were unable to achieve in the world of reality.”
    • “…imagine what miracle you and I can achieve by giving people honest appreciation this side of insanity.”
  • “The way to develop the best that is within a person is by appreciation and encouragement.”
  • “There is nothing else that so kills the ambitions of a person as criticisms from superiors.”
  • “One I did bad and that I heard ever / Twice I did good and that I heard never.”
  • “…main reason wives ran away? It was lack of appreciation.”
  • “There is nothing I need so much as nourishment for my self esteem.”
  • “Flatter is telling the other person precisely what he thinks of himself.”
  • “Stop thinking about ourselves for a while and begin to think of the other person’s good points.”
  • “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… they will set small flames of friendship that will be rose beacons on your next visit.”
  • “I shall pass this way but once. Any good, therefore, that I can do or any kindness that I can show to any human being, let me do it now. Let me not defer or neglect it, for I shall not pass this way again.”
  • Every man I meet is my superior in some way. In that, I learn of him. – Emerson

Principle 3: Arouse in the other person an eager want


  • Speak about what the other person finds valuable.
  • Talk about what other people want. Paul Graham echos this sentiment for startup companies: “Build something people want.”
  • Understand the other person’s point of view.


  • “I didn’t think about what I wanted. I thought about what they wanted.”
  • “Bait the hook to suit the fish.”
  • “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.”
  • “The only way 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.”
  • “Action springs out of what we fundamentally desire”- Harry A. Overstreet
  • “Arouse in the other person an eager want.”
  • “Talk in terms of what the other person wants.”
  • “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 your own.”
  • “…mention something that may help me solve one of my problems.”
  • say things like: “The advantage that would accrue to you under such an arrangement would be…”
  • “customers like to feel like they are buying, not being sold.”
  • “The world is so 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.”
  • “People who can put themselves in the place of other people, who can understand the workings of their minds, need never worry about what the future has in store for them.”
  • The one thing to get out of this book: “an increased tendency to think always in terms of other people’s point of view, and see things from their angle.”
  • “Each party should gain from the negotiation.”
  • “Arouse 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.”

Six ways to Make People Like You

In this part, the book only gets more specific in its guidance. In all honest, reading just the first two parts of the book would set you well on your way to winning friends and influencing people.

Principle 1: Become genuinely interested in other people.


  • Practice showing interest in everyone around you. The Uber driver, the front desk worker, the person from whom you place an order – everyone you meet is a human with unique interests, from whom you can learn.


  • “become interested in other people.”
  • “People are not interested in you. They are interested in themselves.”
  • The most frequently used word is: “the personal pronoun. I.”
  • “When you see a group photograph that you are in, whose photo do you look for first?”
  • “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.”
  • “You have to be interested in people if you want to be a successful writer of stories. If the author doesn’t like people, people won’t like his or her stories.”
  • “He never stepped in front of the footlights without saying to himself over and over: ‘I love my audience. I love my audience’.”
    • “I am grateful because these people come to see me. They make it possible for me to make my living in a very agreeable way. I’m going to give them the very best I possibly can.”
  • “He was seventy-two and enjoying every minute of his life. By having a sustained interest in other people, he created a new life for himself at a time when most people consider their productive years over.”
  • “… concern for the seemingly unimportant people… he greeted… all the old servants by name.”
  • “to be genuinely interested in people is a most important quality.”
  • “If we want to make friends, let’s push ourselves out to do things for other people — things that require time, energy, unselfishness and thoughtfulness.”
    • “greet people with animation and enthusiasm…”
    • “a tone of voice that radiates interest and enthusiasm…”
  • “we are interested in others when they are interested in us.”

Principle 2: Smile.


  • A big smile brightens a room with your presence. Smile with your teeth, smile authentically, and genuinely. A positive mood can follow a positive facial expression.
  • Even just reading about smiling puts you in a good mood. Take a glance through the quotations below and tell me if you don’t feel a greater sense of happiness having read them.
dale carnegie passage on smiling and positive mental attitude.


  • “Dale Carnegie told me his smile had been worth a million dollars. And he was probably understating the truth.”
  • “Actions speak louder than words. And a smile says, ‘I like you. You make me happy. I am glad to see you.”
    • “That is why dogs are such a hit. They are so glad to see us that they almost jump out of their skins. So, naturally, we are glad to see them.”
  • “…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.”
  • “Encouragement is a much more effective teaching device than punishment.”
  • “Your smile comes through in your voice”.
  • “Your voice sounded as if you were glad to hear from me… that you really wanted me to be part of your organization.”
  • “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.”
  • “You don’t feel like smiling? … 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.”
    • “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.”
  • “Everyone 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.”
  • “Most folks are about as happy as they make their minds out to be.” Abe Lincoln
  • “Your smile brightens the lives of all who see it.”
    • “Your smile is like the sun breaking through the clouds.”
    • “A smile can help [someone] realize that all is not hopeless-that there is joy in the world.”
    • “Nobody needs a smile as much as those who have none left to give!”

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

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

Principle 5: Talk in terms of the other person’s interests. Find common ground by discussing topics that are important or interesting to the other person.

Principle 6: Make the other person feel important – and do it sincerely. Show appreciation and recognize the value in others, making them feel respected and significant.

Win People to Your Way of Thinking

  1. The only way to get the best of an argument is to avoid it.
  2. Show respect for the other person’s opinions. Never say, “You’re wrong.”
  3. If you are wrong, admit it quickly and emphatically.
  4. Begin in a friendly way.
  5. Get the other person saying “yes, yes” immediately.
  6. Let the other person do a great deal of the talking.
  7. Let the other person feel that the idea is his or hers.
  8. Try honestly to see things from the other person’s point of view.
  9. Be sympathetic with the other person’s ideas and desires.
  10. Appeal to the nobler motives.
  11. Dramatize your ideas.
  12. Throw down a challenge.

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

  1. Begin with praise and honest appreciation.
  2. Call attention to people’s mistakes indirectly.
  3. Talk about your own mistakes before criticizing the other person.
  4. Ask questions instead of giving direct orders.
  5. Let the other person save face.
  6. Praise the slightest improvement and praise every improvement. Be “hearty in your approbation and lavish in your praise.”
  7. Give the other person a fine reputation to live up to.
  8. Use encouragement. Make the fault seem easy to correct.
  9. Make the other person happy about doing the thing you suggest.

4 comments on “Wisdom of Dale Carnegie – How to win friends and influence people”

  1. This is so true! This is probably the best book I have ever read and this is a really great post summing it up! I recommend that you read the Alchemist next!


    1. Thanks for the encouragement! Alchemist sounds like a great book, definitely adding it to my “to read” list!


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