Updated on 03.19.07

Ten Books That Changed My Life #8: How to Win Friends and Influence People

Trent Hamm

How to Win Friends and Influence PeopleHow to Win Friends and Influence People
Dale Carnegie
Changed my life in May 2002

Even though I spent most of my life filled with anxiety in social situations, I took a position in mid-2002 that was, at least in part, a sales position. One large portion of my position was to sell people on a project and convince people to provide funding for future growth of this project.

Needless to say, I was scared by this daunting task. I had a very difficult time making friends with people easily, and as the time for salesmanship began to creep closer and closer, I began to withdraw more and more into a shell. I spent my time holed up, focusing on tasks I could do alone without interacting with others.

Somehow, anonymously, this book arrived on my desk one morning with a typed note taped to the cover that just said “Read me.” This was about a month before my first major sales pitch. I did what the note said and spent each day practicing one of the points in the book on everyone around me.

I knocked the presentation out of the park. Since then, I’ve given seminars to crowds of hundreds, met and interacted with more people than I could ever count, and discovered that I actually had the ability within me to talk to and relate to others, something I would have never believed before cracking the cover of this book.

What’s it about?

Basically, the entire book is about how to deal with social situations, nothing more, nothing less. The outline of the book largely reveals the meat of the content within:

Fundamental Techniques in Handling People

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

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.
   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.

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. Dramatize your ideas.
   12. Throw down a challenge.

Be a Leader: How to Change People Without Giving Offense or Arousing Resentment

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

How did How to Win Friends and Influence People shape the person I became?

Practicing the principles of this book made it possible for me to begin connecting with people outside of my comfort zone (which was – and to a degree still is – very small). Before I read this book, the impression others had of me was of someone very quiet, aloof, and, well, cold.

Following the ideas in the book made me break out of my shell. This is perhaps the best thing that’s ever happened to me. I no longer feel apprehensive about meeting people or about giving speeches. I used to be scared to participate in group conversations; now I can jump right in and lead them. I used to be completely locked up by stage fright if presenting to more than four or five people; now I can talk to hundreds or thousands without breaking a sweat.

In short, this book made it possible for me to escape from my shell and find a place in the real world, in the social world, interacting with others.

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  1. Ryan Hyde says:

    This was a great post and I appreciate the story of your personal application of the book. I could really relate to this post as I am also trying to sell people on a project that I looking to do. I had the book on my wish list but as my list grew bigger for some reason I took it off. Needless to say I added back on my wish list so that I can apply it’s message and hopefully get the results you experience.

    Not only do I need to break out of my shell I also need to do a better job at applying the books I read. What a great success story. Thanks

    Ryan Hyde

  2. Memo Cordova says:

    Great article, Trent. Thanks for sharing your experiences with how books changed your life.

  3. Jean says:

    This site is informative and quite refreshing!
    While searching to see your list of 10 books…I found myself reading your posts for a whole hour:)
    Your information and feedback was practical, personal and worthwhile food for thought. Your simple, direct, and respectful writing style has inspired me to say “Thanks!”

    One of the rest of us

  4. I love to read so I really appreciate your book reviews – particularly ones like this and finance books. I will be a frequent visitor.

  5. Chris Jow says:

    Best book out there. This was one of the first books I encountered in my personal development journey. I didn’t see anything by Napoleon Hill in your top 10. If you haven’t already, check him out. Carnegie and Hill go hand in hand. If you enjoy one you’ll definitely enjoy the other!


  6. trifanov23 says:

    Most of the ideas that you’ve put above are ok. I think this book is for teenagers. For me (25years old) the main required “quality” of being a leader is to have a big IQ and, more important, to know how to handle with it.

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