How to Win Friend and Influence People by Dale Carnegie
Shivan

Shivan

A Book Summary to Help Improve People Skills: How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie

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I must admit that people are not my obvious strength. It is a skill that I constantly strive towards in becoming a better person. 

Optometrists require both a strong knowledge of optics and the eye as well as intricacies of working with people – from patient interaction to existing in a team environment. As mentioned in one of my previous posts about “envisioning an experience”, we are in an industry that services people. Not only by treating their vision, but we are also providing an experience as soon as they enter the door.

A book from an old-time (published in 1936), How to Win Friends and Influence People by the late Dale Carnegie has ideas that are still relevant to today’s world in interacting with people.

I saw immediate results after implementing the principles that this book had to share. It helped in the exam room and with my team members, with friends and family, as well as becoming a better person.

The important idea to get about this book is that it is not about manipulating people. If I had to describe it to you in a single sentence: it is about genuinely focusing on the other person and making them feel important.

If you are wanting to bolster your interpersonal connections at work or at home, I would highly recommend reading this book. A summary will like this is nothing like reading the actual book. 

I hope this summary at least helps you in some way or entices you to take the time and invest it wisely in reading this book.

The Fundamentals of People Skills

  1. Reduce criticism
  2. Be genuine and honest in your appraisal
  3. Put yourself in the other person’s position

Reduce criticism

Carnegie’s fundamental approach in dealing with people is to maintain importance in the other person.

The way to do this is by working with the other person but also avoiding negativity.

Criticism is an example of this negativity that we need to reduce. Criticism evokes defensiveness in the other person. This is where our initial feedback can backfire as this defensiveness only makes the other person more stubborn and glued to their points of view.

Instead, take an approach where you can understand their actions and reasons behind them.

In the optometry clinic, a good example is when a patient is having trouble with their progressive lenses. At times, harsh criticisms of your performance or the ability of your team definitely ignites a fire within and makes you less likely to want to help their situation.

We are also quick to dismiss this person for their criticism, which is a criticism in itself. Breaking the chain, we want to understand their situation. They are probably angry because their product is not serving their purpose, requiring your simple guidance.

Be genuine and honest in your appraisal

So, we know to try and limit our criticism of others, but it is also important not to give flattery just to get your way.

It is important to show genuine appreciation for others. The main difference between flattery and genuine appreciation – and you will know this – is that appreciation that is true comes from the heart.

We have a tendency to think about only ourselves most of the time. Flattery comes from a selfish position, where we only want to show affection for self-gain. Appreciation comes from an unselfish place – and normally it is best needed when we take others for granted.

Put yourself in the other person’s position

Another fundamental approach that Carnegie makes obvious is empathy. One of the keystone ideas – if you only had one to take away – is ability to understand another person’s point of view.

When we are in the business of optometry. We must not forget that we are not selling products but helping people with their visual needs. And when we are working in a team, we are working for the greater good of the business. This is the lens that we must utilise.

How to get People to Like You

  1. Take genuine interest in others
  2. Smile
  3. Remember the person’s name
  4. Actively listen and get them to talk about their interests

Take genuine interest in others

I strived to feel the appreciation of others. I wanted to be in their good books.

Not only to the people I knew but strangers as well. My initial understanding was that I had to be an interesting person, who told good stories and had a great life experience. The opposite is the case.

It is less about you and more about the other person.

You must adopt an approach where you are genuinely interested in another person. Most people only think about themselves and want to talk about themselves.

Thinking this way, social situations are much easier to manage. You do not have to be well-travelled or have done amazing things. You simply have to ask questions about the other person and take a genuine interest in what they have to say.

Smile

Another action we can make is as simple as smiling.

Smile when taking patients into the room. Smile at your colleagues when you see them first thing at work. Smile to the strangers while you are on your lunchtime stroll around the block. 

As an aside, there will be days where your feelings will dictate you to frown rather than smile.

Remember that action can proceed thought. You can still activate the muscles that are needed to smile. The action of smiling, over time, will influence how you feel. So, you do not need to feel a certain way to smile; you simply just have to smile, and this spreads positivity around.

Remember the person’s name

If you have to remember one thing about someone, remember their name. Even on the job, patient names tend to slip.

Before taking a patient through, I try to repeat their name three times in my head. The name is important because it is the sweet sound that identifies them. 

I recall a time when I saw a patient and this his wife a few weeks later. A colleague was able to note down his name on the wife’s appointment notes. When the gentleman accompanied his wife to the eye exam, he was very impressed that I was able to recall his name.

I was also quick to give appraisal afterwards. The couple’s positive experience was solely credited to my colleague’s smart action.

Actively listen and get them to talk about their interests

The common theme throughout this book is that we want to make the other person feel important in a manner that is genuine. This will be mentioned multiple times throughout the book as well as in this summary if you have not noticed already.

Ways we can make people feel important is through actively listening to what they have said. This is then followed up, getting them to talk about their interests, getting them to talk about themselves more, and this only works if you take a genuine interest.

This can be done in the exam room as well as in your out-of-work life. You must adopt the approach of getting out of your own head and into theirs.

Getting People on your Side

  1. Avoid arguments and saying the other person is wrong
  2. Let the other person speak without interruption
  3. Admit your mistakes
  4. Start with a positive before giving necessary criticism
  5. Use question to create agreement in others
  6. Let the other person do the majority of the talking
  7. Give the other person ownership of any ideas
  8. Show sympathy using specific phrasing
  9. Use your language with emotion in mind

Avoid arguments and saying the other person is wrong

Remember that criticism and negativity does not help the situation. Arguments do the same. 

If you are engaged in the argument, do you ever think about the other person and preserve that relationship or do you think about winning? Most would be the latter.

People are more rooted in their ideas before they start an argument than after.

Saying if someone is wrong too, only hurts their pride and makes them feel less important, which goes against our fundamental principles.

Let the other person speak without interruption

If a patient or person has problems, let them speak about it.

If someone is having trouble with the glasses that you made up for them, let them speak without interruption.They know more about their situation than you do if the vision does not feel right.

You might have some temptation to unwantedly interrupt but you are better to leave them to talk.

Admit your mistakes

Admission of a mistake can work well with others.

Immediately proclaiming that you are wrong can put you in a position where the other party is inclined to not be as aggressive to your mistake.

If someone has admitted truthfully that they are wrong, do you become aggressive at them? The inclination is to be kind, caring and to show forgiveness.

Start with a positive before giving necessary criticism

We did talk about reducing criticism; however, it cannot be completely eliminated. 

There will be some situations where criticism has to be given.

Just like having to remove a piece of metal from the eye, we apply a local anesthetic to alleviate any pain. Similar to the pain of criticism, we want to start with something as numbing as positivity first. This will ease the criticism for the other person and save significant hurt to their pride. 

Carnegie calls this a “drop of honey”.

Use question to create agreement in others

Another approach to take is by using questions, where there will be an agreement.

This can work in cases of management, asking questions about how important their driving is to them and how much their life will improve with these spectacles, or even how important it is to get their eyes tested.

Let the other person do the majority of the talking

To hold an interesting conversation requires less of your input and more of theirs.

It is important to ensure that the other person does the bulk of the talking. This makes them feel important. 

Give the other person ownership of any ideas

If conversation between you and the other person comes with any ideas, make sure you let them take ownership of those ideas.

If they think the idea is theirs, they are more likely to run with that idea. The idea becomes their baby, their beloved project.

Show sympathy using specific phrasing

If there are any problems, we want to make sure we use our sympathy to really understand their situation. 

Use the phrasing: “I don’t blame you… for feeling as you do. If I were you I would undoubtedly feel just as you do”.

This gives the impression to the other person that you understand their situation.

Use your language with emotion in mind

Finally, the use of language is very important – dramatise your words and appeal to the other person’s emotions.

For example, instead of blandly saying “these glasses correct your vision”, we want to use more emotion: “these glasses will significantly improve your night driving experience”, or “… discomfort you are experiencing when reading your favourite novel”, or “… help your child perform much better at school”.

Being a Leader

  1. Give genuine praise for small improvements
  2. Be positive before being negative in your feedback
  3. Share your own mistakes before pointing out others’
  4. Avoid direct orders and use suggestions
  5. Questions can help others be a part of the decisions giving them importance
  6. Even if the other person is wrong, proving them wrong only hurts their ego
  7. If the other person makes a mistake, convince them that it is easy to correct
  8. Provide a title to live up to in the other person
  9. Attempt to provide win-win situations

Give genuine praise for small improvements

Give genuine praise, where it is required. Even if you see a slight improvement, the encouragement seen will keep the other person motivated.

This works with contact lens teaches. The process can be daunting and frustrating for both patients and practitioners. Even for small steps like getting the contact lens close to their eye should be met with huge praise. This is what keeps them going to hopefully succeed in handing their lenses.

Be positive before being negative in your feedback

When having a difficult conversation, give praise before handing tough-to-stomach feedback.

The criticism is dampened by the initial praise given.

Ability flourishes in encouragement and is destroyed in criticism.

Share you own mistakes before pointing out others’

Additionally, when giving negative feedback, try and incorporate a personal mistake.

I recall from a time when I was having a meeting with my managers about a patient complaint made to me. My manager made the effort to point out mistakes they had made in the past and link to what was done in my situation: “I have been in your position before…” or “I am just as guilty as you are…”

By doing so, I did not feel alone in the situation, and to see someone who was in a position that I admired making the same mistakes helped keep my pride intact.

Avoid direct orders and use suggestions

When in a leadership role, giving direct orders will be met with significant pushback. If we want cooperation, we need to attempt to give ownership of the idea to the other person.

The way we do this is by using questions like “what do you think?” or “how about we try this alternative method?”.

Even if the other person is wrong, proving them wrong only hurts their ego

If we have to point out mistakes in others, phrase it as a question or a suggestion without pointing out the mistake directly.

This will stir creativity in the other person and make them feel important as they are part of the decision making process. 

Through this method, by using questions we are able to protect their pride and their importance.

If the other person makes a mistake, convince them that it is easy to correct

If mistakes are made by the other person, their emotional mind will upscale the consequence the size of the mistake.

This will likely reduce their pride and importance.

Once again, it is our job to maintain that importance, and we can do this by convincing them that the mistake is small and that it is easy to correct.

Provide a title to live up to in the other person

When we have a task for someone, we can attribute a positive title to follow.

For example, telling a colleague that they are a naturally good frame stylist will empower them with confidence to live up to this title that has been bestowed upon them.

Attempt to provide win-win situations

Lastly, when you want someone to do something for you, it is important to be genuine and show empathy to make sure that this job will seem to benefit the other person also resulting in a win-win. For example, getting the team to clean up the store, though a monotonous task, makes the clinic look presentable, which translates to a better place to work.

Conclusion

The aim of this book is to make you a more genuine and better person; we are not in the game of manipulating people.

Optometry and working in similar professions is about serving others and becoming better individuals.

Carnegie has outlined some skills to implement in the work-place, home or even with strangers. 

We do not have to be magnificent people, all we have to focus on is making the other person feel important.

We can do this by showing our genuine appreciation, active listening and taking honest interest in their life, letting them speak and be right even if they may be wrong. We also use questioning and suggestion to spark their creativity while giving them ownership of ideas. We look for win-wins scenarios and use the most important skill of putting yourself in their world.

We want to avoid harsh criticism, the need to feel right all the time, and diminishing the pride of the other person.

I hope this summary gives you a good idea of the outline for this fantastic book. Remember a summary cannot replace actually reading the book. So, you want to be a better person, right? I suggest this book for you and whoever you know.

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2 thoughts on “A Book Summary to Help Improve People Skills: How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie”

  1. I like to (I say like to but sometimes it is involuntary and I don’t necessarily like it) reflect on myself numerous times everyday to see if I could improve on what I said or what I did to another person in order to become a “better person” than I was a minute ago. This is not because I am a good person but because it is like a habit and is natural to me. I don’t sit down to think about these things. They just come to mind constantly almost involuntarily and sometimes too often that it really stresses me out. I am constantly trying to find out any many of my flaws as possible and there are plenty to find. I have not read this book but it is good to know that I have been thinking about most of those things when reflecting back on myself. For me, it’s not about where you are at currently but whether you have the desire to improve.
    What has been making me very sad over the last few years as I have been living the life outside the well-protected shelters of my parents and schools is that there seems to be a lot of people out there who do not care about becoming a “better person”. This is something that I really struggle to understand. A lot of people are too “happy” with the way they are and do not strive for better selves or they are not “happy” with themselves but still don’t bother considering improving anyway.

    1. Very insightful comment, Ryan.

      >>> “They just come to mind constantly almost involuntarily and sometimes too often that it really stresses me out”

      It’s not often that it happens though as you mention only “sometimes”. If it becomes a problem affecting general life, then it could be worth exploring ways to reduce stress – taking time, dedicated to reflecting and writing down thoughts.

      >>> “For me, it’s not about where you are at currently but whether you have the desire to improve.”

      This is an outstanding point. It’s better to be poor but have a habit to save than be rich and have a habit to spend.

      >>> “This is something that I really struggle to understand.”

      Me too! But I guess you can’t control what other people do. On the other hand, we do not know the extent of others’ lives. If they are happy, then that is good. But you can also bask in the glory that you are wanting to self-improve too.

      I hope this helps and makes sense, Ryan. I really appreciate your comments on these posts. It shows that you have thought about this deeply and, excuse the double negative, that I am not writing to no one!

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