One of the first best sellers in the self-help genre, Dale Carnegie’s How to Win Friends and Influence People, emphasizes the importance of interpersonal skills over professional skills in attaining personal and financial success.
For more than sixty years, the rock-solid, time-tested advice in this book has carried thousands of now-famous people up the ladder of success in their business and personal lives.
His advice has stood the test of time and will teach you how to:
- Make friends quickly and easily.
- Increase your popularity.
- Win people to your way of thinking.
- Enable you to win new clients and customers.
- Become a better speaker and a more entertaining conversationalist.
- Arouse enthusiasm among your colleagues.
Based on the classic teachings from the book, here are some of the main lessons on how to be a likable, persuasive, and influential leader:
Avoid criticizing, condemning, or complaining.
“Any fool can criticize, condemn, and complain—and most fools do,” Carnegie writes. “But it takes character and self-control to be understanding and forgiving.”
A leader should acknowledge when a subordinate cannot meeting expectations or when a competitor’s approach is inferior to their own. Nevertheless, do so in a way that acknowledges what is working, avoiding resentment, and encouraging improvement.
Praise others’ achievements.
“Abilities wither under criticism; they blossom under encouragement,” Carnegie wrote. Be lavish with praise, but only in a genuine way, he advised.
“Remember, we all crave appreciation and recognition, and will do almost anything to get it,” he said. “But nobody wants insincerity. Nobody wants flattery.”
Carnegie writes that “the only way on earth to influence other people is to talk about what they want and show them how to get it.”
He refers to a quote by Henry Ford: “If there is any one secret of success, 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.”
Steel magnate Charles Schwab claimed his smile was worth a million bucks.
“And he was probably understating the truth,” Carnegie writes. “For Schwab’s personality, his charm, his ability to make people like him, were almost wholly responsible for his extraordinary success; and one of the most delightful factors in his personality was his captivating smile.”
Encourage people to talk about themselves.
Most people loosen up even in tense situations if they start talking about what they know. That is, themselves!
Listening carefully to someone is one of the highest compliments we can pay anyone according to Carnegie.
Know when to use suggestions instead of direct orders.
According to Carnegie, industrialist Owen D. Young would not bark commands to his subordinates. Instead, he would lead them along with suggestions. For example, “You might consider this…” or questions, “Do you think this would work?”.
“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,” Carnegie writes.
Acknowledge your mistakes.
The best leaders, Carnegie says, do not lionize themselves to appear flawless.
“Admitting one’s own mistakes — even when one hasn’t corrected them — can help convince somebody to change his behavior,” Carnegie wrote.
Respect others’ dignity.
Whether demoting employees or letting them go, a leader they should not humiliate anyone. Instead, a leader needs to respect that person’s dignity.
Even from a practical standpoint, it’s in a leader’s favor to remain on good terms with an employee who didn’t work out. It is possible that they will cross paths again, and a single irate former employee can have the motivation to ruin their former boss’ reputation.
Don’t try to ‘win’ an argument.
Even if you manage to tear apart someone else’s argument, you don’t achieve anything. Carnegie cites the old saying, “A man convinced against his will is of the same opinion still.”
If you’re looking to persuade somebody, avoid an argument in the first place.
Be friendly despite how angry the other person may be.
It’s human nature to meet aggression with aggression. However, if you take the high road and try to persuade someone while maintaining a smile and showing appreciation, you’ll be surprised what you can achieve.
Reach a consensus as soon as possible.
“Begin by emphasizing—and keep on emphasizing—the things on which you agree,” Carnegie writes. “Keep emphasizing, 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 others to think your conclusion is their own.
No one can be forced to believe something truly. Having that in mind, the most influential people know the power of suggestions over demands.
Plant a seed and when that’s blossomed, avoid the urge to take credit for it.