Book Note: How to win friends and influence people

Seunghwan Son
6 min readDec 18, 2020


Preface: How this book was written and why

A person with knowledge plus the ability to express ideas, to assume leadership, and to arouse enthusiasm among people is headed for higher earning power. A system of self-analysis, self-education will do more for you than any other one thing you can ever attempt.

Part 1. Fundamental Techniques in Handling People

Principle 1 — Don’t Criticize, condemn or complain

Criticism is futile — it puts a person on the defensive and makes them justify themselves rather than finding a solution. It is also dangerous because it wounds a person’s pride and importance while arousing resentment. Criticizing someone does not make lasting changes in a person! The worst is that criticisms are often like homing pigeons. It eventually finds its way back to you.

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 criticize, condemn and complain — and most fools do. But it takes character and self-control to be understanding and forgiving. A great man shows his greatness by the way he treats little men.

Instead of condemning people, let’s try to understand them. Let’s try to figure out why they do what they do. That’s a lot more profitable and intriguing than criticism; and it breeds sympathy, tolerance and kindness. “To know all is to forgive all.”

Principle 2 — Give honest and sincere appreciation

There is only one way under high heaven to get anybody to do anything. And that is by making the other person want to do it. Remember, there is no other way. Sigmund Freud said that everything you and I do springs from two motives: the sex urge and the desire to be great/important.

“The deepest principle in human nature is the craving to be appreciated” -William James.

Schwab says that he was paid this salary largely because of his ability to deal with people. I asked him how he did it. “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.”

The difference between appreciation and flattery? That is simple. 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. Flattery is telling the other person precisely what he thinks about himself. Let’s try to figure out the other person’s good points. Then forget flattery. Give honest, sincere appreciation.

Principle 3 — Arouse in the other person an eager want

So the only way cm earth to influence other people is to talk about what they want and show them how to get it. 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. He attended school only four years, yet he learned how to handle people.

Tomorrow you may want to persuade somebody to do something. Before you speak, pause and ask yourself: “How can I make this person want to do it?” If there is 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.”

Part 2. Six Ways To Make People Like You

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.

Principle 2 — Smile.

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. I had listened intently. I had listened because I was genuinely interested. And he felt it. Naturally, that pleased him. That kind of listening is one of the highest compliments we can pay anyone.

Principle 5 — Talk in terms of the other person’s interests.

Whenever Roosevelt expected a visitor, he sat up late the night before, reading up on the subject in which he knew his guest was particularly interested.

Principle 6 — Make the other person feel important — and do it sincerely.

There is one all-important law of human conduct. If we obey that law, we shall almost never get into trouble. In fact, that law, if obeyed, will bring us countless friends and constant happiness. But the very instant we break the law, we shall get into endless trouble. The law is this: Always make the other person feel important.

Do unto others as you would have others do unto you.

Part 3. Twelve Ways To Win People To Your Way of Thinking

Principle 1 — The only way to get the best of an argument is to avoid it.

Principle 2 — Show respect for the other person’s opinions.

Never say, “You’re wrong.”

Principle 3 — If you are wrong, admit it quickly and emphatically.

Principle 4 — Begin in a friendly way.

Principle 5 — Get the other person saying “yes, yes” immediately.

Principle 6 — Let the other person do a great deal of the talking.

Principle 7 — Let the other person feel that the idea is his or hers.

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

Principal 9 — Be sympathetic with the other person’s ideas and desires.

Principal 10 — Appeal to the nobler motives.

J. Pierpont Morgan observed, in one of his analytical interludes, that a person usually has two reasons for doing a thing: one that sounds good and a real one. The person himself will think of the real reason. You don’t need to emphasize that. But all of us, being idealists at heart, like to think of motives that sound good. So, in order to change people, appeal to the nobler motives.

Principal 11 — Dramitiz your ideas.

This is the day of dramatization. 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.

Principal 11 — Throw down a challenge.

“The way to get things done,” said Schwab, “is to stimulate competition. I do not mean in a sordid, money-getting way, but in the desire to excel.” 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. That is what makes foot-races and hog-calling and pie-eating contests. The desire to excel. The desire for a feeling of importance.

Part 4. Nine Ways to Change People Without Giving Offence or Arousing Resentment

Principal 1 — Begin with praise and honest appreciation.

Principal 2 — Call attention to people’s mistakes indirectly.

Principal 3 — Talk about your own mistakes before criticizing the other person.

Principal 4 — Ask questions instead of giving direct orders.

Principal 5 — Let the other person save face.

Principal 6 — Praise the slightest improvement and praise every improvement.

Be “hearty in your approbation and lavish in your praise”.

Principal 7 — Give the other person a fine reputation to live up to.

Principal 8 — Use encouragement. Make the fault seem easy to correct.

Principal 9 — Make the other person happy about doing the thing you suggest.



Seunghwan Son

All views are mine. Book notes include my own interpretation.