I met someone who met Dale Carnegie—he actually took one of Carnegie’s classes back in the day, paid something like $20 for the whole thing—so I can vouch that Carnegie was indeed a real person, not some alien being sent from the heavens with the silver bullet for relationships. Carnegie did have the silver bullet, mind you. Lots of silver bullets. I know because I was fortunate to stumble unknowingly upon many of the principles he lays out in this book, and I’ve found they are 100% correct. The new ones I learned seem golden, too. He explains them so clearly and richly that it’s easy to see the benefit of, say, never criticizing another human being as long as you live. He has that early-1900s diction, too, which I kind of dig.

There was tons of insight to glean from this book, especially the unique phrases that underline many of these principles. My favorite: “I may be wrong. I frequently am. Let’s examine the facts.” The only question it didn’t answer for me was this: Does it ever get old taking interest in others if others never take interest in you? One possible answer: Just surround yourself with friends who have read the book.


An eloquent thought about criticism (p. 12)

If you and I want to stir up a resentment tomorrow that may rankle across the decades and endure until death, just let us indulge in a little stinging criticism—no matter how certain we are that it is justified.

The secret of Benjamin Franklin’s success (p. 13)

“I will speak ill of no man,” he said, “…and speak all the good I know of everybody.”

On feelings of importance (p. 19)

If you tell me how you get your feeling of importance, I’ll tell you what you are. That determines your character. That is the most significant thing about you.

Advice on encouragement, by Charles Schwab (p. 23)

“I consider my ability to arouse enthusiasm among my people,” said Charles Schwab, “the greatest asset I possess, and the way to develop the best that is in a person is by appreciation and encouragement.

“There is nothing else that so kills the ambitions of a person as criticisms from superiors. I never criticize anyone. I believe in giving a person incentive to work. So I am anxious to praise but loath to find fault. If I like anything, I am hearty in my approbation and lavish in my praise.”

Appreciation vs. flattery (p. 26)

The difference between appreciation and flattery? That is simple. One is sincere and the other insincere.

Reminder to express gratitude to others (p. 27)

The next time you enjoy filet mignon at the club, send word to the chef that it was excellently prepared, and when a tired salesperson shows you unusual courtesy, please mention it.

Every minister, lecturer, public speaker knows the discouragement of pouring himself or herself to an audience and not receiving a single ripple of appreciative comment.

I shall pass this way but once; any good, therefore, that I can do or any kindness that I can show to any human being, let me do it now. Let me not defer nor neglect it, for I shall not pass this way again.

1 big question about persuasion (p. 33)

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?”

Serve unselfishly (p. 42)

The world is full of people who are grabbing and self-seeking. So the rare individual who unselfishly tries to serve others has an enormous advantage. He has little competition. Owen Young: “People who can put themselves in the place of other people, who can understand the workings of their minds, need never worry about what the future has in store for them.”

Dogs (p. 51)

Did you ever stop to think that a dog is the only animal that doesn’t have to work for a living? A hen has to lay eggs, a cow has to give milk, and a canary has to sing. But a dog makes his living by giving you nothing but love.

Authors must like people (p. 53)

A magazine editor said he could pick up any one of the dozens of stories that drifted across his desk every day and after reading a few paragraphs he could feel whether or not the author liked people. “If the author doesn’t like people,” he said, “people won’t like his or her stories.”

Advice on confidence from Elbert Hubbard (p. 68)

Whenever you go out-of-doors, draw the chin in, carry the crown of the head high, and fill the lungs to the utmost; drink in the sunshine; greet your friends with a smile, and put soul into every handclasp. Do not fear being misunderstood and do not waste a minute thinking about your enemies. Try to fix firmly in your mind what you would like to do; and then, without veering off direction, you will move straight to the goal. Keep your mind on the great and splendid things you would like to do, and then, as the days go gliding away, you will find yourself unconsciously seizing upon the opportunities that are required for the fulfillment of your desire, just as the coral insect takes from the running tide the element it needs. Picture in your mind the able, earnest, useful person you desire to be, and the thought you hold is hourly transforming you into that particular individual … thought is supreme. Preserve a right mental attitude — the attitude of courage, frankness, and good cheer. To think rightly is to create. All things come through desire and every sincere prayer is answered. We become like that on which our hearts are fixed. Carry your chin in and the crown of your head high. We are gods in the chrysalis.

How to be an interesting conversationalist (p. 81)

An interesting conversationalist? Why, I had said hardly anything at all. I couldn’t have said anything if I had wanted to without changing the subject, for I didn’t know any more about botany than I knew about the anatomy of a penguin. But I had done this: 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.

Stop whatever you are doing, and listen (p. 83)

Mrs. Esposito was touched and said: “Of course I love you very much. Did you doubt it?”

Robert responded: “No, but I really know you love me because whenever I want to talk to you about something you stop whatever you are doing and listen to me.”

What we all want when we are in trouble (p. 87)

Lincoln hadn’t wanted advice. He had wanted merely a friendly, sympathetic listener to whom he could unburden himself. That’s what we all want when we are in trouble.

Advice on talking with others (p. 88)

If you aspire to be a good conversationalist, be an attentive listener. To be interesting, be interested. Ask questions that other persons will enjoy answering. Encourage them to talk about themselves and their accomplishments.

Theodore Roosevelt’s conversation strategy (p. 89)

Whenever Theodore 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.

What can you honestly admire about others (p. 94)

So I said to myself: “I am going to try to make that clerk like me. Obviously, to make him like me, I must say something nice, not about myself, but about him.” So I asked myself, “What is there about him that I can honestly admire?”

Doing good for others (p. 95)

I did want something out of that chap. I wanted something priceless. And I got it. I got the feeling that I had done something for him without his being able to do anything whatever in return for me. That is a feeling that flows and sings in your memory long after the incident is past.

Important, little phrases (p. 97)

Little phrases such as “I’m sorry to trouble you,” Would you be so kind as to —?” “Won’t you please?” “Would you mind?” “Thank you”—little courtesies like these oil the cogs of the monotonous grind of everyday life—and, incidentally, they are the hallmark of good breeding.

No need to prove someone wrong (p. 110)

Why prove to a man he is wrong? Why not let him save his face? He didn’t ask for your opinion. He didn’t want it. Why argue with him?

Good quotes (p. 117)


You cannot teach a man anything; you can only help him to find it within himself.

Lord Chesterfield:

Be wiser than other people if you can; but do not tell them so.


One thing only I know, and that is that I know nothing.

Good phrase to know (p. 118)

There’s magic, positive magic, in such phrases as: “I may be wrong. I frequently am. Let’s examine the facts.”

Admit one’s errors (p. 130)

There is a certain degree of satisfaction in having the courage to admit one’s errors.

On how we believe great things of ourselves (even if they’re not true) (p. 158)

Ralph Waldo Emerson: “In every work of genius we recognize our own rejected thoughts; they come back to us with a certain alienated majesty.”

Humility (p. 159)


The reason why rivers and seas receive the homage of a hundred mountain streams is that they keep below them.

On preparedness (p. 165)

I would rather walk the sidewalk in front of a person’s office for two hours before an interview than step into that office without a perfectly clear idea of what I was going to say and what that person—from my knowledge of his or her interests and motives—was likely to answer.

Magic phrase (p. 167)

Wouldn’t you like to have a magic phrase that would stop arguments, eliminate ill feeling, create good will, and make the other person listen attentively?

Yes? All right. Here it is: “I don’t blame you one iota for feeling as you do. If I were you, I would undoubtedly feel just as you do.”

Desiring nobility (p. 175)

J. Pierpont Morgan: A person usually has two reasons for doing a thing: one that sounds good and a real one.

Money vs. challenge (p. 188)

Harvey Firestone:

I have never found that pay and pay alone would either bring together or hold good people. I think it was the game itself.

Even more good phrases (p. 208)

Say, “You might consider this” or “Do you think that would work?”

Sincerity (p. 219)

Because he had singled out a specific accomplishment, rather than just making general flattering remarks, his praise became much more meaningful to the person to whom it was given. Everybody likes to be praised, but when praise is specific, it comes across as sincere—not something the other person may be saying just to make one feel good.

The principles taught in this book will work only when they come from the heart.


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.

Part Two

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.

Part Three

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.

Part Four

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

A leader’s job often includes changing your people’s attitudes and behavior. Some suggestions to accomplish this:

  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.


Posted by:Kevan Lee

VP of marketing currently living in Boise, Idaho. I work with the lovely folks at Buffer. You can join my email list to get an inside look at marketing and branding and team-building in tech.