Dale Carnegie’s How to Win Friends and Influence People, published in 1936, laid out powerful and timeless principles of human communications that have impacted millions. In this book summary on How to Win Friends and Influence People in the Digital Age, we’ll review ideas from the original book, with tips on how to apply them in today’s digital age, so you can stand out as a leader and build rich, trusting and lasting relationships.
Dale Carnegie’s “How to Win Friends and Influence People“, published in 1936, laid out powerful and timeless principles of human communications that have impacted millions. The original book was written at a time where communications were limited to face-to-face, phone and letter interactions. These foundational principles have become even more important in today’s digital age, where we are surrounded by constant self-promotion, clever publicity tactics, and “me-ism”. Rather than use marketing tactics and technology to replace people-fundamentals, we should work on the meaning and intent behind our messages, so we can communicate them digitally and multiply the effect using media.
Essentials of Engagement
There are 3 principles of engagement that underlie all other principles in the book. Here’s an overview – get more details in our complete summary bundle or from the book! Chances are, most of us violate these principles in our daily interactions, and the (negative) impact is being multiplied through social media, emails, messages and other form of digital communications.
Bury your Boomerang
Don’t criticize, condemn or complain. The next time you’re tempted to criticize someone or give them a piece of your mind via social media, email or message, hold yourself back. This will achieve nothing, and can only backfire.
Affirm what’s Good
Everyone makes mistakes, and we all want to feel valued and appreciated. Rather than put others down, we can choose to affirm them.
Connect with Core Desires
Influence is about tapping into what others are already feeling, what they really want, and then finding a way to offer it to them in a mutually beneficial way.
6 Ways to Make a Lasting Impression
In the digital world, we are inundated with too much information, advertising, promotion, and “noise”. How do you stand out and make a lasting impression on others? Here are 6 key ideas in the book (you can also get more details from our full 13-page summary).
• Take interest in others’ interests: Self-interest is an inherent part of human nature. People gravitate towards people who are interested in them and their interests. Rather than just engage in digital media or campaigns, invest time to truly know people and their problems / interests. That’s the only real way to achieve mutual benefit.
• Smile: We tend to gravitate towards smiles, grins and giggles. In the digital space, your voice – be it spoken or written – can effectively convey a digital smile.
• Reign with Names: In the digital age, your name is like a company logo, and an identifiable name has great commercial value. However, when you interact with and know and interact with others, you have a relationship, which is even more valuable. Check out the book or our full summary for some common pitfalls to remember when using people’s names.
• Listen Longer: People want to be heard. Good listening leaves a lasting impression, a strong connection and builds trust. The key is to be present – suspend your own thoughts and give full attention to what the other person has to say.
• Discuss what matters to them: Don’t just “push” your message – focus on what really matters to the other person:
• Leave others a little better:The best way to build relationships is to add value to others.
Gain & Maintain Others’ Trust
The best way to gain trust is to genuinely listen, understand, and try to add value to others, rather than try to be “right” or to asset yourself. Carnegie (via Cole) outlines 10 key ways to do so (more details from the book or our full summary).
• Avoid Argument:Arguments only cause both sides to dig deeper into their own positions.
• Never say “You’re Wrong”:Resist the temptation to tell someone they are wrong, or indirectly convey it through your look, intonation, or gesture.
• Admit faults quick and emphatically:Don’t try to hide or deny your mistakes; in today’s digital world, news spread faster than ever.
• Begin in a friendly way:When we’re friendly, we validate the other person. When people feel friendly toward us, they are more likely to agree with us.
• Access affinity: In the digital age, we can build affinity with people we haven’t even met – get people to say “yes” as often as possible, by offering what they want (rather than pitching our own products or causes).
• Surrender the Credit:When you surrender credit as a way of life, you spread the effect of success, and collaboration will occur more naturally.
• Engage with Empathy: Most people don’t stop to consider how others feel in a situation. You’ll stand out simply by making a sincere effort to understand someone’s circumstances and perspective.
• Appeal to noble motives: By targeting the noble desires of people, we appeal to the side of them that wants to be presented in the best light.
• Share your Journey: When you share your story, people get to see who you are and what you strive to be, creating points of commonality that allows friendships to develop.
• Throw down a challenge: Use challenges to inspire and compel, rather than discourage and depress.
Lead Change without Resistance/Resentment
As with other tips in the book, the key idea here is to win people over through sincerity, positive expectations, empathy, and showing them what they want rather than what you want. Get more details on these 8 tips from the book or full book summary).
• Begin on a positive note: When you start on a negative note, your listeners tend to focus on that so completely that they lose the positive points that follow.
• Acknowledge your baggage:This shifts the attention away from the other person’s mistakes and avoid triggering a defensive reaction.
• Call out mistakes quietly: Most people resent direct criticism. Check out the book or our summary for some examples on how to call out mistakes subtly.
• Ask questions instead of giving direct orders, to stimulate creative solutions, and promote ownership of the problem.
• Mitigate fault: Always consider how to let others save face, and never discuss others’ mistakes publicly.
• Magnify improvement: Praise and encouragement are 2 critical ingredients for motivating people to change and fulfill their potential.
• Give others a fine reputation to live up to: People tend to live up to our positive or negative expectations of them, so you’re indirectly influencing the results from others around you.
• Stay connected on common ground: This is the essence of the book – to know people’s goals, work on win-win outcomes and communicate this sincerely.
Other Details in “How to Win Friends and Influence People in the Digital Age”
This book is a powerful reminder of the fundamentals of human relations in Carnegie’s original book. However, it is not a how-to guide for applying Carnegie’s principles to social and digital media (as the title may suggest).
Instead, the book provides new references and modern day examples (alongside classic examples from the original book e.g. those of Abraham Lincoln and Teddy Roosevelt) to help us understand how to strengthen our relationship fundamentals, while leveraging digital media effectively to build meaningful relationships. It is a strong reminder that in the digital age, we have even more opportunity and potential to positively impact others through our communication.