Project Description

How to win friends and influence people

  • by Dale Carnegie.
  • This great book from 1936 (with the corniest title ever!!) presents various techniques of influence. It shows sincere kindness and interest in others as tools of influence.
  • Dale Carnegie, writer and developer of courses for managers and salesmen felt there was a need for a “how-to influence” book and course, he therefore studied the work of various leaders such as Lincoln to synthesize a number of principles or tips.
  • Some of Carnegies tips:
    • He argues that we can be more influential and strengthen relationships by being more empathic and less critical in your approach to others. Your critical approach wil generally reduce the other’s motivation, willingness to change and sour your relationship. Rather than focussing on all the shortcomings, try to look for strengths in other people’s work, and make these very salient to them. Be sincere, don’t engage in hollow flattery.
    • He names the importance of smiling, using a person by name. Both of which we know now from research trigger the influence technique of [[Liking]]
    • Listen more, let people talk. People like conversations the most when they are the ones talking. According to Dale they will even rate your contributions to the conversation as high, though you only asked questions.
    • Ask questions, rather than providing answers. This is also something that I should practice, let others do the talking and just guide by asking questions.
      • Related to this point he suggests that you should let people come up with “your solutions”. This is Linked to [[Self persuasion]] which we now know can be very influential.
    • Talk about the topics the other finds important and let the other feel important!
    • He suggests that you should appeal to people’s noble side. So, in a way he says you should root requests in people’s [[self-identity]] Give them a reputation to live up to [[Labeling]] and always give somebody a way out to safe face!
    • Admit your own mistakes easily and rapidly, when you have to criticize others, start with your own mistakes.
  • The book could be interpreted as preaching a manipulative demeanor towards others; using kindness as a way to get what you want. The book has been criticized for this. However, I don’t think the book does this. Carnegie talks about genuine interest and empathy in the perspective of others, and by applying the techniques you (also) give the other, a sense of importance, make them happy, and you strengthen your social bond. – It is interesting that there seems to be a greater need to explain or defend a nice approach in influence than a directive authoritarian approach.
  • The book is fascinating in how current and applicable it still is and how many of the findings have later been found in behavioral and influence research. If you are a student in the field of social influence it is almost a game “link his techniques to research”. So, in its suggestions the book is still a very valid, and sometimes even eye-opening perspective. If you already knew a tool it is still a great reminder.
  • The talk of paper letters, salesmen, typical authoritarian bosses, is of course dated but it doesn’t distract in my opinion, it rather gives it a nice 50’s feel. Apart from the talk about “housewives” and the typical relationship roles in those days. That is cringey to read. Specifically, because you know he was at the time probably very progressive in his views.