Dale Carnegie’s book “How to Win Friends and Influence People” is a timeless success classic on how to build meaningful and lasting relations, develop deep-felt trust and influence, and to become a better person, touching others around you positively. Simply put, it is a book about winning friends and influencing people from the heart. Read our book summary online here, or download a free copy of our audio/ text/ infographic summary here. In this article, we’ll zoom in on specific examples from “How to Win Friends and Influence People”.
What makes the book so valuable are the examples, stories, phrases and snippets of encounters from Carnegie’s interviews and research of kings, generals, and famous personalities like Franklin Roosevelt and Abraham Lincoln. In this article, we’ll share some of the great quotes, stories and highlights from the book. Enjoy!
Examples from “How to Win Friends and Influence People”
EMPHATHY AND APPRECIATION, NOT CRITICISM
One of John D. Rockefeller’s partners, Edward T. Bedford, made a bad decision which cost the firm a million dollars. Rockefeller could have dished out criticisms, but he knew Bedford had done his best, and hence he chose to dish out praises instead. He congratulated Bedford for saving 60% of the investments, saying, “That’s splendid! We don’t always do as well upstairs”.
INFLUENCING PEOPLE BY GIVING THEM WHAT THEY WANT
Ralph Waldo Emerson and his son were trying to get a calf into the barn (which was what they wanted). Emerson pushed and his son pulled, but the calf merely stiffened his legs and stubbornly refused to leave the pasture. Along came the Irish housemaid, who intuitively considered what the calf would want. She placed her maternal finger in the calf’s mouth, and let the calf suck her finger as she gently led him into the barn.
Andrew Carnegie’s sister-in-law was very worried over her two boys, who were busy at Yale, and had neglected to write home, despite her frantic letters. Carnegie was confident he could get an answer by return mail, without even asking for it. This was what he did – so he wrote his nephews a casual letter, mentioning in a postscript that he was sending each one a five-dollar bill. He deliberately neglected to enclose the money. That did the trick. The replies came swiftly by return mail, thanking “Dear Uncle Andrew” for his kind note and inquiring about the missing notes.
So, the next time you want to persuade someone to do something, think, “How can I make him want to do it?”.
AVOID ARGUMENTS / DON’T TELL SOMEONE HE’S WRONG
What do you do if you’re a Ford salesman, and someone says, “Ford’s cars are no good! I wouldn’t take one if you gave it to me. I’m going to get Chevrolet cars.” Instead of arguing, try this approach: Respond by agreeing with the person, “Brother, listen, Chevrolet’s cars are good cars. Their cars are made by a fine company and sold by good people.” [When you agree with him, this is a sure way to avoid an argument]. Once he’s exhausted the points about Chevrolet’s cars, you can begin to talk about the good points of Ford’s cars.
What if you’re informed that your rent will be tripled? Instead of arguing, try this response:
“Dear Manager, I was a bit shocked when I got your letter, but I don’t blame you at all. If I had been in your position, I should probably have written a similar letter myself. Your duty as the manager is to make all the profit possible. Now, let’s take a piece of paper and write down the advantages and disadvantages that will accrue to you, if you insist on this increase in rent.”
Advantages: You’ll have the advantage of having the ballroom free to rent for dances and conventions, for affairs like that will pay you more than I can. Disadvantages: First, instead of increasing your income from me, you’re going to decrease it. In fact, you’re going to wipe it out because I cannot pay the rent you are asking. I shall be forced to go to another location. There’s another disadvantage to you also. These lectures attract crowds of educated and cultured people to your hotel. That’s good advertising for you, isn’t it? In fact, if you spent $5,000 advertising in the newspapers, you couldn’t bring as many people to look at your hotel as I can bring by these lectures. That is worth a lot to a hotel, isn’t it?”
BE A GOOD LISTENER
A customer denied owing $15. After getting letters from the credit department, he went to the manager and declared that, not only was he not going to pay the bill, he wasn’t going to anything else from them again. The manager listened patiently to all he had to say without interruption. Then said, “I want to thank you for coming to me to tell me about this. You have done me a great favor, for if our credit department has annoyed you, it may annoy other good customers. Believe me, I am far more eager to hear this than you are to tell it. We’ll wipe off the 15 dollar charge, because you are a very careful man with only one account to look after, while we have to look after many. Therefore, you are less likely to be wrong than we are.”
IF YOU ARE WRONG, ADMIT IT QUICKLY AND EMPHATICALLY
A man was warned by an officer for not putting his dog on a leash. Some days later, he was caught with the same offence. Rather than wait for the officer to start speaking, he took the initiative by admitting his mistake, “Officer, you’ve caught me red-handed. I’m guilty. I have no excuses.” The chances are, when you begin to condemn yourself, the officer would want to feel important and nourish his self-esteem by showing you mercy.
During a course in human relations, a class wrote down criticisms to a certain man to let him see himself as others see him. One man was broken-hearted because he was denounced for being too sure of himself, too self-centered, too domineering, an egoist, trouble-maker, and a communist. One of his critics ordered him to get out of class. Instead of denouncing his critics, he said, “Boys, I certainly am unpopular. There can be no mistaking that. It hurts me to read these comments, but they are good for me. They have taught me a lesson. I long for friends just as you do. I want to make people like me. Won’t you help me? Won’t you please write me some more criticisms and tell me what I can do to improve my personality? If you will, I’ll try hard, awfully hard, to change.” Because of his soft answer and his sincerity, his words moved his critics – the very men who had denounced him one week earlier were now ready to support him.
BEGIN IN A FRIENDLY WAY
Here’s a fable about the sun and the wind. They quarreled about who was stronger, and the wind said, “I’ll prove I am. See that old man down there with a coat? I bet I can make him take his coat off faster than you can.” So the sun went behind a cloud and the wind blew until it was almost a tornado, but the harder it blew the tighter the old man wrapped his coat about him. Finally, the wind calmed down and gave up. The sun came out from behind the cloud and smiled kindly on the old man. He mopped his brow and pulled off his coat. The sun then told the wind, “gentleness and friendliness were always stronger than fury and force.” Friendliness and appreciation can make people change their minds more readily than storming at them can.
Here are some useful phrases to start positively and politely: “I’m sorry to trouble you…Would you be so kind as to…Won’t you please…Would you mind…Thank you…This may, perhaps, be worth thinking of, gentlemen…you might consider this…do you think that would work? What do you think of this? Maybe if we were to rephrase it this way it would be better…It so appears to me at present…”
LET THE OTHER FELLOW THINK THE IDEA IS HIS
A doctor wanted to purchase the finest X-ray department in America, but was overwhelmed by different salesmen touting their own equipment. One salesman stood out by writing him a letter saying, “Our factory has recently completed a new line of X-ray equipment. They are not perfect, we know that, and we want to improve them. So we should be deeply obligated to you if you could find the time to look them over and give us your ideas about how they can be made more serviceable to your profession. Knowing how occupied you are, I shall be glad to send my car for you at any hour you specify.”
The doctor had never been consulted by an X-ray manufacturer, and this made him feel important. The more he studied the equipment, the more he liked it, and he eventually decided to buy the equipment, thinking it was his own idea.
BE SYMPATHETIC WITH OTHER PEOPLE’S IDEAS AND DESIRES
Carnegie made an error in an announcement over the radio and was flooded by indignant and insulting letters, particularly from a woman. He was tempted to retort by telling her how rude she was, but he controlled himself, and resolved to turn her hostility into friendliness. This was what transpired in his call:
Him: Mrs. so and so. You wrote me a letter a few weeks ago, and I want to thank you for it.
Her: (in a cultured, well-bred tone). To whom have I the honor of speaking?
Him: I am a stranger to you. My name is Dale Carnegie. You listened to a broadcast I gave about Louisa May Alcott a few Sundays ago, and I made the unforgivable blunder of saying that she had lived in New Hampshire. It was a stupid blunder and I want to apologize for it. It was so nice of you to take the time to write me.
Her: I am sorry, Mr. Carnegie, that I wrote as I did. I lost my temper. I must apologize.
Him: No! No! You are not the one to apologize; I am the one to apologize. Any school child would have known better than to have said what I have said. I apologized over the air the Sunday following and I want to apologize to you personally now.
Her: I was born in Concord, Massachusetts. My family has been prominent here for over two centuries and I am very proud of this state. I was quite distressed when you said she was born in New Hampshire. But I am really ashamed of that letter.
Him: I assure you that you were not one-tenth as distressed as I am. My error didn’t hurt Massachusetts, but it did hurt me. It is so seldom that people of your standing and culture take the time to write people who speak on the radio, and I do hope you will write me again if you detect an error in my talks.
Her: You know, I really like very much the way you have accepted my criticism, You must be a very good man. I should like to know you you better.
By apologizing and sympathizing with her point of view, Carnegie got her to apologize and sympathize with his point of view. But, had he written the retaliatory letter, the outcome would have been very different.
GIVE PEOPLE A FINE REPUTATION TO LIVE UP TO
Someone hired a helper; but just before she reported to work, he heard some bad reviews about her from a former employer. When the girl came to work, instead of writing her off, the man said, “Nellie, I spoke the other day to a woman you used to work for. She said you were honest and reliable, a good cook and good at caring for the children. But she also said you were sloppy and never kept the house clean. Now, I think she was lying. You dress neatly, anybody can see that. And I’ll bet you keep the house just as neat as your person. You and I are going to get along fine.” And they did – because he had given Nellie a good reputation and an ideal image to live up to.
These are just some of the snippets and stories from the book. You can also:
• Read more on common conversation mistakes.