How to win friends and influence people

How to win friends and influence people

31 August 2017

First published in 1936, How to Win Friends and Influence People became an instant best-seller. Since then, more than 30 million copies have been sold worldwide, and thousands of copies are still sold every year.

In 2012, a Library of Congress survey ranked Carnegie’s volume as the seventh most influential book in American history.

So, then, what can you learn from Carnegie’s ground-breaking and much imitated work?

Consider just two of Carnegie’s key principles:

1. Don’t criticise, condemn, or complain

Negative people are unattractive—period. Criticising or condemning people only gets their back up. So, if you can’t say something nice, then it may be best to say nothing at all.

First, get your emotions under control and approach the person when they are less likely to be pressured or tired. Then begin in a friendly way.

Find something positive to say about the person and sincerely commend them for it. Sunshine can prompt a person to take his off his coat, but a cold wind will make him wrap up more tightly. Likewise, when you show kindness, warmth, and appreciation, you help people to open up and consider their position more readily than all the bluster and storming in the world. When people argue, both lose.

If you need to discuss someone’s mistake, try to do so indirectly at first. No one likes to be scolded or humiliated. You could, for example, mention a mistake you once made before asking them if they feel their actions had similar results.

Be sympathetic and acknowledge their feelings. Try to understand their point of view, and make the fault seem easy to correct. If you consider their feelings and allow them to save face, they may be motivated to do better in the future.

End on a positive note. Appeal to their nobler motives and express your confidence that they will do the right thing. “Abilities wither under criticism, they blossom under encouragement,” says Carnegie.

2. Be genuinely interested in people

Carnegie says 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.

Make a conscious effort to smile more. When you meet someone and smile, you say in effect, “I like you, I’m happy to see you.” Even if you have a stern looking face, your smile can help people warm to you.

Remember the Chinese proverb: “A man without a smiling face must not open a shop.”

When you remember and use someone’s name, you make them feel valued. Says Carnegie: “The average person is more interested in their own name than in all the other names in the world put together.”

Encourage others to talk about themselves and be a good listener. Use tactful and friendly questions to find out what interests them. “People are a hundred times more interested in themselves and their wants and problems that they are in you and your problems.”

Summing up, all leaders and all likeable people encourage, support, and elevate others. They call attention to people’s good points, not their mistakes. They ask questions. They make other people feel appreciated and heard.

And because they do this everywhere they go, more often than not they generally have successful relationships and happier lives.

Why wouldn’t they? They have a long list of friends, and they influence people in a positive way, bringing out the best in them.

You can do the same.