Book Review: How to Win Friends and Influence People

My review of Dale Carnegie's self-help book on conducting yourself in social interactions

By Daniel Bate

10 Mar, 2021

How to Win Friends and Influence People is a self-help book focusing on social interaction written by Dale Carnegie and published in 1936. Although some of the examples are a little outdated, the messages are still incredibly applicable to today, even when a considerable amount of social interaction is now conducted digitally. It was originally written to help salespeople create better business relationships and drive more sales around the time of the great depression, so it's incredibly applicable to conducting yourself in a workplace and on communicating effectively - which is often considered just as important as technical ability in the tech industry.

I really enjoyed this book although I'd say the title isn't completely representative of the book. It's more of a guide on creating positive relationships rather than winning friends or being influential. However a lot of the examples that Carnegie includes do happen to be influential people, including Henry Ford and Theodore Roosevelt. I deemed this a positive and I think the message is that you become influential through how you conduct yourself during interactions rather than trying to dominate them.

I believe we are made to think that the most socially confident people are extroverts as they thrive on interaction. However Carnegie challenges this and as an introvert myself, this book has really made me rethink how I view how well I conduct myself socially. Instead of celebrating leading interactions through how much you say, Carnegie believes that the most socially advanced people are those that can lead conversations by how little they say. They'd do this through empathy and understanding the person they are speaking too. Some of Carnegies key points on building positive relationships are as follows:

  • Become interested in other people.
  • Be a good listener. Encourage others to talk about themselves.
  • Make the other person feel important—and do it sincerely.
  • Show respect for others opinions. Never say, “You’re wrong.”
  • Begin with praise and honest appreciation.

This was a really empowering book to read as an introvert. It put a lot of emphasis on traits that are naturally suited to introverts, even though you wouldn't necessarily consider an introvert to be someone that is naturally really outgoing and wins friends. So some of it may seem oversimplified, but I'd recommend it to introverts or people that consider themselves to be less socially confident.