Do you know that having fewer friends as you get older is more dangerous than being obese or smoking 15 cigarettes a day? Do you know that having a best friend at work can make you seven times more engaged and productive? Regardless of the latest science on friendship, wouldn't it be nice to be surrounded by friends rather than being surrounded by foes? Thankfully, all the tools you need to build solid friendships, strengthen your network and make people eager to help you can be found in an 80 year old book called "How to Win Friends and Influence People" by Dale Carnegie.

The principles in this book are as applicable today as they were when the book was published in 1936. You can be sure that the principles in this book will be used by your kids and your grandkids when they try to win friends and influence people.

Now there are a lot of different principles in this book for winning friends and influencing people.

But they all centred around two fundamental behaviors:

  1. Genuinely interested in other people
  2. Praise other people

First Fundamental Behavior: Genuinely Interested in Other People

In the 1800's, there was a poor Dutch immigrant boy named Edward Bok.

Bok didn't have more than 6 years of schooling in his life yet he made himself into one the most successful magazine editors of all time.

How did he do it?

Well at the age of 13, he saved up his money to buy an encyclopedia of Great American biographies.

Then he did something that most of us wouldn't ever think to do.

He read the lives of these famous people and then he wrote them letters to ask them more about their lives.

He wrote General Grant asking about a certain battle. Grant drew a map for him and invited this then 14 year old boy to dinner.

Soon this boy was corresponding with many of the most famous people in the nation like a Ralph Waldo Emerson, Ms Abraham Lincoln and Jefferson Davis.


Photo by Jason Rosewell / Unsplash

Each influential person he met introduced him to the next influential person...

And soon he had all the access he would need to run a successful magazine.

His mere interest in others won the friendship of some of the most important people in the nation.

The first fundamental behavior to win more friends and influence people is to be genuinely interested in other people.

Become Interested in Other People

The Moment
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Author Dale Carnegie says you can make more friends in two months by becoming interested in other people than you can in two years by trying to get other people interested in you.

To spark a genuine interest in others, make it your mission to find out how someone spends their time and what subjects excite them.

Then make their subjects of interest your temporary passion.

Be fascinated about what fascinates them.

Say someone's into collecting stamps, stamps might become interesting after you do a little bit of research and find out that the most expensive stamp in the world is worth nine point five million dollars.

If I met someone with a stamp collection I'd be eager to ask what stamps were popular during World War two.

Ask for Advice


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Another way to show your interest in others is to ask them for advice.

Back to the stamp example, ask them, "if I were to start a stamp collection, where should I go to buy old stamps?"

If you give them an opportunity to share their interest and expertise, they will associate their excitement and their passion with your presence.

Influence People to Act in Your Favor

Being genuinely interested in others can also influence people to act in your favor

In the early 1900's, a man named Edward Chalif was looking for a favor from a president of a big corporation.

Chalif was doing fundraising for his local Boy Scout group and he wanted to send at least one of his Boy Scouts to attend a Jamboree in Europe.

Before he met with this corporate president to see if he would be willing to fund one Boy Scouts trip to Europe, he found out that the president was proud of this one million dollar check that he had framed on his wall.

So the first thing that Edward Chalif did when he met the man was asked to see his check. He told the president that he never knew anybody that had written a check for million dollars and he wanted to tell all his boys that he had seen a check for a million dollars.

Five euro note close-up
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The president then showed him and talked glowingly about this check.

After a few minutes of talking about the check the president turned him and said, "by the way what was it you wanted to talk to me about?" Edward told him and to his surprise, he not only gave him the money for one boy to attend the Jamboree in Europe, he gave him enough money to send five boys plus himself to Europe for seven weeks!

In the book, Edward says if I hadn't found out what he was interested in and got him warmed up first, I wouldn't have found him one tenth is easy to approach.

If you want to win friends and influence people start by taking a genuine interest in others.

Second Fundamental Behavior: Praise Other People


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Now let's talk about the second fundamental behavior to winning friends and influencing people.

Think of a person that you've recently received praise, from praise for your work or tour around the house or a good deed that you did.

What was your opinion of that person after you receive their praise?

Think of a teacher or a boss who regularly praised your work. How does that teacher or that boss compared to other teachers or bosses?

The second fundamental behavior to winning friends and influencing people is to give frequent praise.

Make People Feel Appreciated

Author Dale Carnegie says people think they've committed a crime if they let their families or employees go six days without food.

But they will let them go six days in six weeks and sometimes 60 years without giving them the hearty appreciation that they crave almost as much as they crave food.

We are all starving for appreciation.

That's why the great Charles Schwab once said, "if I like anything, I am hearty in my approbation and lavish in my praise."

Be eager to praise others for their effort when you notice a co-worker putting in an extra effort.

Walk over to them and praise their commitment to the team.

If your child or partner helps out around the house in any way, praise them for their effort.

Make it a Daily Habit

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A great way to build your praise and appreciation muscle is to make it a daily habit.

Take two minutes every day to write out an email to a friend or coworker praising them for any progress they've recently made on one of their goals or projects

Make it as personal as possible.

If you choose to do this on Facebook, don't just like someone's comment. Write them a direct message saying exactly why you like it.

Influence People to Act in Your Favor

Praise is also a great tool for influencing people to act in your favor.

Dale Carnegie tells the story of Pamela Dunham a supervisor from Connecticut who had the responsibility of supervising a janitor who was doing a very poor job.

In the book he says the other employees would jeer at him and litter the hallways to show him what a bad job he was doing.

It was so bad, productive time was being lost in the shop.

Pam tried various ways to motivate this person.

She noticed that occasionally he did a particularly good piece of work. She made a point to praise him for it in front of the other people and pretty soon he started doing all his work efficiently.

Now he does an excellent job and other people give him appreciation and recognition.

Honest appreciation got results where criticism and ridicule failed.

Final Thoughts

Saturday. Summer. Beautiful sunny day, so my friends and I decided to make a picnic and watch the sundown. Pretty fun and relaxed day.
Photo by Helena Lopes / Unsplash

So if you want to win friends and influence people, be genuinely interested in others and give others frequent praise.

Give people the joy of talking about their interests and satisfy their craving for praise and appreciation.

And soon you will find yourself surrounded by friends who are eager to help you succeed.

That was a core message that I gathered from How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie.

It's obvious why this book is still in print 80 years later.

I highly recommend it for anyone who wants to refine their social skills.