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How to Win Friends and Influence People summary

How to Win Friends and Influence People book cover

The book is divided into 4 parts:

  1. Fundamental techniques in handling people
  2. Six ways to make people like you
  3. How to win people to your way of thinking
  4. How to be a leader

Part 1: The fundamental techniques in handling people

  1. Don’t criticise, condemn or complain
  2. Give honest and sincere appreciation
  3. Arouse in the other person an eager want

PRINCIPLE 1: Don’t criticise, condemn or complain.

  • Criticism is futile because it puts a person on the defensive and usually makes him strive to justify himself. Criticism is dangerous, because it wounds a person’s precious pride, hurts his sense of importance, and arouses resentment.
  • By criticising, we do not make lasting changes and often incur resentment.
  • So when you and I are tempted to criticise someone tomorrow, let’s remember Al Capone, ‘Two Gun’ Crowley and Albert Fall. Let’s realise that criticisms are like homing pigeons. They always return home. Let’s realise that the person we are going to correct and condemn will probably justify himself or herself, and condemn us in return; or, like the gentle Taft, will say: ‘I don’t see how I could have done any differently from what I have.’
  • But why not begin on yourself? From a purely selfish standpoint, that is a lot more profitable than trying to improve others – yes, and a lot less dangerous.
  • When dealing with people, let us remember we are not dealing with creatures of logic. We are dealing with creatures of emotion, creatures bristling with prejudices and motivated by pride and vanity.
  • Any fool can criticise, condemn and complain – and most fools do. But it takes character and self-control to be understanding and forgiving.

PRINCIPLE 2: Give honest and sincere appreciation (note: not flattery).

  • There is only one way to get anybody to do anything. And that is by making the other person want to do it. You do this by tapping into their "desire to be great / important".
  • [Each individual has] one longing – almost as deep, almost as imperious, as the desire for food or sleep – which is seldom gratified. It is what Freud calls ‘the desire to be great.’ It is what Dewey calls the ‘desire to be important.’
  • ‘I consider my ability to arouse enthusiasm among my people,’ said Schwab, ‘the greatest asset I possess, and the way to develop the best that is in a person is by appreciation and encouragement. ‘There is nothing else that so kills the ambitions of a person as criticisms from superiors. I never criticise anyone. I believe in giving a person incentive to work. So I am anxious to praise but loath to find fault. If I like anything, I am hearty in my approbation and lavish in my praise.’
  • The difference between appreciation and flattery? One is sincere and the other insincere. One comes from the heart out; the other from the teeth out. One is unselfish; the other selfish. One is universally admired; the other universally condemned.
  • That’s all flattery is – cheap praise. I once read a definition of flattery that may be worth repeating: ‘Flattery is telling the other person precisely what he thinks about himself.

PRINCIPLE 3: Arouse in the other person an eager want.

  • To influence other people, talk about what they want and show them how to get it. i.e. arouse in the other person an eager want
  • Andrew Carnegie, the poverty-stricken Scotch lad who started to work at two cents an hour and finally gave away $365 million, learned early in life that the only way to influence people is to talk in terms of what the other person wants.
  • ‘If there is any one secret of success,’ said Henry Ford, ‘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.
  • Looking at the other person’s point of view and arousing in him an eager want for something is not to be construed as manipulating that person so that he will do something that is only for your benefit and his detriment. Each party should gain from the negotiation.

Part 2: Six ways to make people like you

  1. Become genuinely interested in other people
  2. Smile
  3. Remember that a person’s name is to that person the sweetest and most important sound in any language (remember their name)
  4. Be a good listener. Encourage others to talk about themselves.
  5. Talk in terms of the other person’s interests
  6. Make the other person feel important – and do it sincerely

PRINCIPLE 1: Become genuinely interested in other people.

  • You can make more friends in two months by becoming interested in other people than you can in two years by trying to get other people interested in you.
  • 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.

PRINCIPLE 2: Smile.

  • An insincere grin? No. That doesn’t fool anybody. We know it is mechanical and we resent it. I am talking about 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.
  • You don’t feel like smiling? Then what? Two things. First, 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. Here is the way the psychologist and philosopher William James put it: ‘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.
  • Your smile is a messenger of your good will. Your smile brightens the lives of all who see it. To someone who has seen a dozen people frown, scowl or turn their faces away, your smile is like the sun breaking through the clouds. Especially when that someone is under pressure from his bosses, his customers, his teachers or parents or children, a smile can help him realise that all is not hopeless – that there is joy in the world.

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.

-And so I had him thinking of me as a good conversationalist when, in reality, I had been merely a good listener and had encouraged him to talk.

  • What is the secret, the mystery, of a successful business interview? Well, according to former Harvard president Charles W. Eliot, ‘There is no mystery about successful business intercourse . . . Exclusive attention to the person who is speaking to you is very important. Nothing else is so flattering as that.’
  • Lincoln hadn’t wanted advice. He had wanted merely a friendly, sympathetic listener to whom he could unburden himself. That’s what we all want when we are in trouble.
  • So if you aspire to be a good conversationalist, be an attentive listener. To be interesting, be interested. Ask questions that other persons will enjoy answering. Encourage them to talk about themselves and their accomplishments. Remember that the people you are talking to are a hundred times more interested in themselves and their wants and problems than they are in you and your problems.

PRINCIPLE 5: Talk in terms of the other person’s interests.

  • For Roosevelt knew, as all leaders know, that the royal road to a person’s heart is to talk about the things he or she treasures most.

PRINCIPLE 6: Make the other person feel important – and do it sincerely.

  • Always make the other person feel important.
  • Jesus summed it up in one thought – probably the most important rule in the world: ‘Do unto others as you would have others do unto you.’
  • You want the approval of those with whom you come in contact. You want recognition of your true worth. You want a feeling that you are important in your little world. You don’t want to listen to cheap, insincere flattery, but you do crave sincere appreciation. You want your friends and associates to be, as Charles Schwab put it, ‘hearty in their approbation and lavish in their praise.’ All of us want that. So let’s obey the Golden Rule, and give unto others what we would have others give unto us.
  • The unvarnished truth is that almost all the people you meet feel themselves superior to you in some way, and a sure way to their hearts is to let them realise in some subtle way that you realise their importance, and recognise it sincerely.
  • Remember what Emerson said: ‘Every man I meet is my superior in some way. In that, I learn of him.’
  • ‘Talk to people about themselves,’ said Disraeli, one of the shrewdest men who ever ruled the British Empire. ‘Talk to people about themselves and they will listen for hours.’

Part 3: How to 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. Dramatise your ideas.
  12. Throw down a challenge.

PRINCIPLE 1: The only way to get the best of an argument is to avoid it.

  • ...there is only one way under high heaven to get the best of an argument – and that is to avoid it. Avoid it as you would avoid rattlesnakes and earthquakes. Nine times out of ten, an argument ends with each of the contestants more firmly convinced than ever that he is absolutely right. You can’t win an argument. You can’t because if you lose it, you lose it; and if you win it, you lose it. Why? Well, suppose you triumph over the other man and shoot his argument full of holes and prove that he is non compos mentis. Then what? You will feel fine. But what about him? You have made him feel inferior. You have hurt his pride.
  • How to keep a disagreement from becoming an argument:
    • Welcome the disagreement.
    • Distrust your first instinctive impression. Our first natural reaction in a disagreeable situation is to be defensive.
    • Control your temper.
    • Listen first. Give your opponents a chance to talk. Let them finish. Do not resist, defend or debate. This only raises barriers.
    • Look for areas of agreement. When you have heard your opponents out, dwell first on the points and areas on which you agree.
    • Be honest. Look for areas where you can admit error and say so. Apologize for your mistakes.
    • Promise to think over your opponents’ ideas and study them carefully. And mean it. Your opponents may be right.
    • Thank your opponents sincerely for their interest. Anyone who takes the time to disagree with you is interested in the same things you are. Think of them as people who really want to help you, and you may turn your opponents into friends.
    • Postpone action to give both sides time to think through the problem.

PRINCIPLE 2: Show respect for the other person’s opinions. Never say, ‘You’re wrong.’

  • ...if you tell them they are wrong, do you make them want to agree with you? Never! For you have struck a direct blow at their intelligence, judgement, pride and self-respect. That will make them want to strike back. But it will never make them want to change their minds.
  • If you are going to prove anything, don’t let anybody know it. Do it so subtly, so adroitly, that no one will feel that you are doing it. This was expressed succinctly by Alexander Pope: Men must be taught as if you taught them not. And things unknown proposed as things forgot. Over three hundred years ago Galileo said: You cannot teach a man anything; you can only help him to find it within himself. As Lord Chesterfield said to his son: Be wiser than other people if you can; but do not tell them so. Socrates said repeatedly to his followers in Athens: One thing only I know, and that is that I know nothing.
  • You will never get into trouble by admitting that you may be wrong. That will stop all argument and inspire your opponent to be just as fair and open and broad-minded as you are. It will make him want to admit that he, too, may be wrong.
  • Our first reaction to most of the statements (which we hear from other people) is an evaluation or judgment, rather than an understanding of it. When someone expresses some feeling, attitude or belief, our tendency is almost immediately to feel ‘that’s right,’ or ‘that’s stupid,’ ‘that’s abnormal,’ ‘that’s unreasonable,’ ‘that’s incorrect,’ ‘that’s not nice.’ [Note: we should try not to do this and try listening and understanding instead.]
  • In other words, don’t argue with your customer or your spouse or your adversary. Don’t tell them they are wrong, don’t get them stirred up. Use a little diplomacy.

PRINCIPLE 3: If you are wrong, admit it quickly and emphatically.

  • There is a certain degree of satisfaction in having the courage to admit one’s errors. It not only clears the air of guilt and defensiveness, but often helps solve the problem created by the error.
  • Any fool can try to defend his or her mistakes – and most fools do – but it raises one above the herd and gives one a feeling of nobility and exultation to admit one’s mistakes.
  • Remember the old proverb: ‘By fighting you never get enough, but by yielding you get more than you expected.

PRINCIPLE 4: Begin in a friendly way.

  • Lincoln said that, in effect, over a hundred years ago. Here are his words: It is an old and true maxim that ‘a drop of honey catches more flies than a gallon of gall.’ So with men, if you would win a man to your cause, first convince him that you are his sincere friend. Therein is a drop of honey that catches his heart; which, say what you will, is the great high road to his reason.
  • Remember what Lincoln said: ‘A drop of honey catches more flies than a gallon of gall.’

PRINCIPLE 5: Get the other person saying ‘yes, yes’ immediately.

  • IN TALKING WITH people, don’t begin by discussing the things on which you differ. Begin by emphasising – and keep on emphasising – the things on which you agree. Keep emphasising, if possible, that you are both striving for the same end and that your only difference is one of method and not of purpose. Get the other person saying ‘Yes, yes’ at the outset. Keep your opponent, if possible, from saying ‘No.’
  • When you have said ‘No,’ all your pride of personality demands that you remain consistent with yourself. [Note: it becomes difficult for the person to change their mindset for fear of losing face.]
  • ...it doesn’t pay to argue, that it is much more profitable and much more interesting to look at things from the other person’s viewpoint and try to get that person saying “yes, yes.”’

PRINCIPLE 6: Let the other person do a great deal of the talking.

  • Even our friends would much rather talk to us about their achievements than listen to us boast about ours. La Rochefoucauld, the French philosopher, said: ‘If you want enemies, excel your friends; but if you want friends, let your friends excel you.’

PRINCIPLE 7: Let the other person feel that the idea is his or hers.

  • DON’T YOU HAVE much more faith in ideas that you discover for yourself than in ideas that are handed to you on a silver platter? If so, isn’t it bad judgement to try to ram your opinions down the throats of other people? Isn’t it wiser to make suggestions – and let the other person think out the conclusion?

PRINCIPLE 8: Try honestly to see things from the other person’s point of view.

  • ‘stop a minute to contrast your keen interest in your own affairs with your mild concern about anything else. Realise then, that everybody else in the world feels exactly the same way! Then, along with Lincoln and Roosevelt, you will have grasped the only solid foundation for interpersonal relationships; namely, that success in dealing with people depends on a sympathetic grasp of the other person’s viewpoint.’
  • ‘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 what 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.

PRINCIPLE 9: Be sympathetic with the other person’s ideas and desires.

  • ‘I don’t blame you one iota for feeling as you do. If I were you I would undoubtedly feel just as you do.’ [Note: Start a difficult conversation with this line and believe it as it is true.]

PRINCIPLE 10: Appeal to the nobler motives.

  • ...the only sound basis on which to proceed is to assume that he or she is sincere, honest, truthful and willing and anxious to pay the charges, once convinced they are correct. To put it differently and perhaps more clearly, people are honest and want to discharge their obligations. [Note: By automatically making it clear to the other person that you believe them to be noble and honest, they will begin to behave that way.]

PRINCIPLE 11: Dramatise your ideas.

  • This is the day of dramatisation. Merely stating a truth isn’t enough. The truth has to be made vivid, interesting, dramatic. You have to use showmanship. The movies do it. Television does it. And you will have to do it if you want attention.

PRINCIPLE 12: Throw down a challenge.

  • Let Charles Schwab say it in his own words: ‘The way to get things done,’ says Schwab, ‘is to stimulate competition. I do not mean in a sordid money-getting way, but in the desire to excel.’
  • The one major factor that motivated people was the work itself. If the work was exciting and interesting, the worker looked forward to doing it and was motivated to do a good job. That is what every successful person loves: the game. The chance for self-expression. The chance to prove his or her worth, to excel, to win.

Part 4: How to be a leader

  1. Begin with praise and honest appreciation.
  2. Call attention to people’s mistakes indirectly.
  3. Talk about your own mistakes before criticising 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.

PRINCIPLE 1: Begin with praise and honest appreciation.

  • It is always easier to listen to unpleasant things after we have heard some praise of our good points.

PRINCIPLE 2: Call attention to people’s mistakes indirectly.

  • This could be easily overcome by changing the word ‘but’ to ‘and.’ ‘We’re really proud of you, Johnnie, for raising your grades this term, and by continuing the same conscientious efforts next term, your algebra grade can be up with all the others.’
  • We have called his attention to the behaviour we wished to change indirectly, and the chances are he will try to live up to our expectations.
  • Calling attention to one’s mistakes indirectly works wonders with sensitive people who may resent bitterly any direct criticism.

PRINCIPLE 3: Talk about your own mistakes before criticising the other person.

PRINCIPLE 4: Ask questions instead of giving direct orders.

  • He always gave people the opportunity to do things themselves; he never told his assistants to do things; he let them do them, let them learn from their mistakes.
  • A technique like that makes it easy for a person to correct errors. A technique like that saves a person’s pride and gives him or her a feeling of importance. It encourages cooperation instead of rebellion.
  • People are more likely to accept an order if they have had a part in the decision that caused the order to be issued.

PRINCIPLE 5: Let the other person save face.

  • Even if we are right and the other person is definitely wrong, we only destroy ego by causing someone to lose face. The legendary French aviation pioneer and author Antoine de Saint-Exupéry wrote: ‘I have no right to say or do anything that diminishes a man in his own eyes. What matters is not what I think of him, but what he thinks of himself. Hurting a man in his dignity is a crime.

PRINCIPLE 6: Praise the slightest improvement and praise every improvement. Be ‘hearty in your approbation and lavish in your praise.’

  • Use of praise instead of criticism is the basic concept of B.F. Skinner’s teachings. This great contemporary psychologist has shown by experiments with animals and with humans that when criticism is minimised and praise emphasised, the good things people do will be reinforced and the poorer things will atrophy for lack of attention.
  • Because he had singled out a specific accomplishment, rather than just making general flattering remarks, his praise became much more meaningful to the person to whom it was given. Everybody likes to be praised, but when praise is specific, it comes across as sincere – not something the other person may be saying just to make one feel good.
  • Remember, we all crave appreciation and recognition, and will do almost anything to get it. But nobody wants insincerity. Nobody wants flattery. Let me repeat: The principles :taught in this book will work only when they come from the heart.

PRINCIPLE 7: Give the other person a fine reputation to live up to.

  • In short, if you want to improve a person in a certain respect, act as though that particular trait were already one of his or her outstanding characteristics. Shakespeare said ‘Assume a virtue, if you have it not.’ And it might be well to assume and state openly that other people have the virtue you want them to develop. Give them a fine reputation to live up to, and they will make prodigious efforts rather than see you disillusioned.

PRINCIPLE 8: Use encouragement. Make the fault seem easy to correct.

  • Tell your child, your spouse, or your employee that he or she is stupid or dumb at a certain thing, has no gift for it, and is doing it all wrong, and you have destroyed almost every incentive to try to improve.__ But use the opposite technique – be liberal with your encouragement, make the thing seem easy to do, let the other person know that you have faith in his ability to do it, that he has an undeveloped flair for it – and he will practise until the dawn comes in the window in order to excel.

PRINCIPLE 9: Make the other person happy about doing the thing you suggest.

  • The effective leader should keep the following guidelines in mind when it is necessary to change attitudes or behaviour: Be sincere. Do not promise anything that you cannot deliver. Forget about the benefits to yourself and concentrate on the benefits to the other person. Know exactly what it is you want the other person to do. Be empathetic. Ask yourself what is it the other person really wants. Consider the benefits that person will receive from doing what you suggest. Match those benefits to the other person’s wants. When you make your request, put it in a form that will convey to the other person the idea that he personally will benefit.

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