Book Learnings- How to Win Friends and Influence People

This celebrated book is by Dale Carnegie, and is a fairly old one- it was first published in 1936. In the beginning, I enjoyed reading the book but it got a little too preachy and repetitive towards the end. Or perhaps I should have read only one chapter a day, like I did in the initial stages of the book.

The book has a lot of nuggets of wisdom that we already know, but are worth remembering and repeating. There are a LOT of concepts explained in it, but I can clearly remember only the following as I sit down and reflect on the book.

1. Do not criticise others. As Charles Schwab says, be hearty in your approbation and lavish in your praise.

Even if you do have to point out someone’s mistakes, first tell them how awesome they are, and how you yourself make so many mistakes and are not perfect.. Then gently suggest to them that what they have done is probably not right. When you put yourself down in front of others (i.e- admit that you make so many mistakes in a single day), the other person doesn’t feel so bad admitting that he made a mistake as well..

2. Everyone likes to feel important and that they are right. All the world’s greatest villians did not view themselves as bad people;  they thought of themselves as being benefactors to the public because of some reason. So do not argue with people-always seek to understand their view point first, and only then try and be understood.

Also, when you let others speak first, it gives you time to think and phrase your words carefully.. so you do not speak sharply and regret your speech later.

3. ” Give the dog a good name”.  Give a person a reputation to live up to!

By telling someone that he is extremely trustworthy even before he has shown the trait, you are obliging him to keep up his new reputation. So next time you want to get someone to do something for you, saying “I’m sure you will be able to do this amazingly. I have full faith in you! 🙂 ” will probably work better than giving him a direct order and asking him if he will be able to successfully complete the task..

4. Find fault with yourself before others do it for you.

It’s better to hear not-so-nice things about yourself from your own lips than have them pointed to you by someone else.. It is an effective way to avoid an argument as well.

I used to do this unconsciously without realising it all these years! Whenever I did badly in a test in school and took the dreaded test-note to my parents for their signatures, I used to always beat myself up so much that my parents would take pity on me and comfort me instead of scolding me for the marks (or the lack of it). To think I was such a genius back then! 😛 (In my defense, I really did feel bad about the marks.. which is probably why my parents used to let me off.)

Carnegie’s philosophies can sound very artificial if not practiced with a sincere heart.. There is a world of difference between flattery and heartfelt praise, and we should keep that in mind when trying out his strategies to “win friends”. As he says, it is a conscious change to your way of life, not just altering your personality.

Until the next book.. 🙂


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