Lessons from Carnegie’s book on human relationships

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how to make friends by being retardedly enthusiastic

[don’t worry, unwarranted enthusiasm explained below]


Have it your way, without arguing

Do you disagree with your boss or teacher? Are you getting into arguments with your partner? Do you resent dealing with authorities, since it’s like talking to a wall?

Do you want to know how to “win” without causing bad blood?

[Probably a little differently than Bruce Wayne does right here – buying the entire restaurant when his girls want to swim in the restaurant pool]

Picture from http://obamapacman.com/

Then again, Bruce is more into How To Lose Friends And Alienate People


Better game

Do you desire “better game”? Are you looking to improve your sales numbers? Do you want to make people (including clients, employees or colleagues) do what you want and like you for it? You know that Wall Street Playboys tell you that sales is one of very few ways to get really rich. In short…


Do you want to win friends and influence people?

Then I recommend you read Dale Carnegie’s book with that title.

Make no mistake, however, it is a bit simplistic for the modern mind, and most of its advice is so widely dispersed that the book can come across as a mere summary of common knowledge. On top of it all, its entire premise is kind of cynical – only slightly mitigated by frequent use of the words “honestly” and “sincerely”.

So, last month, I finally came round to reading Dale Carnegie’s book about smooth handling of human relations. Despite dozens of recommendations spanning several decades, I just never got the right pitch to arouse my want to read it (meaning perhaps they never actually applied the lessons themselves).


Carnegie, Carnagey, Dale, David, tomato, potato… and Andrew

In the end, Dale Carnegie (who changed his name from Carnagey when he was 32, to “borrow” some of the unrelated and 50 years older epic steel magnate and philanthropist Andrew Carnegie‘s celebrity status) did it best himself:

The description in the foreword of how the book came about, from researching hundreds of books that touched upon the subject, thousands of lectures on public speaking and decades of real world feedback from his audiences, got me hooked in a minute.

I concluded Dale Carnegie and his book obviously were the real deal, albeit possibly a bit dated. I stick to that assessment.


Red herring

Swedish readers might find it interesting that the Swedish broker firm D. Carnegie & Co was founded 40 years before Andrew Carnegie was so much as a lewd thought in father William’s mind, and 90 years before Dale Carnagey was born. Swede David Carnegie (actually possibly distantly related to Andrew through their common Scottish heritage) bought the five year old herring start-up Erskine & Mitchell in 1803 and soon turned into a real estate company. More than 150 years later D(avid) Carnegie & Co became a stock brokerage.


7-point summary of Carnegie’s best advice

Nota bene: this summary is not in the order Carnegie himself chose. I’ve instead grouped the various advice for winning friends, influencing people and so on in thematic categories, since I see it as universal advice for all human relations rather than specific for colleagues, authorities, spouses, friends etc.

  • Smile and greet enthusiastically by name (remember names) – I often react negatively though, as with used car sales men. What were your first feelings when you started reading this post?
  • Be interested, talk about them and their interests, listen, encourage, let them do the talking. Pretend they are you before you knew you, so give them the benefit of the doubt – This probably works, I however am often more interested in learning new things than repeating what I already know.
  • Begin friendly and with (sincere) praise – and trick a few YESes out of them early on
  • Avoid criticizing and quickly admit your own errors. Don’t argue or debate. Find common ground or change topic – At least save the debating and criticizing for last, if at all. Think in terms of first making the other your trusted friend, who then will be more open and accepting
  • Plant ideas subtly (inception style) through questions, as well as specific praise of wanted behavior – like with a pet.
  • Make the other want what you want, through (cheap) incentives, praise and appeal to nobler motives or a challenge (“I guess not even you can eat a full pound of butter”). This is exactly what every red cross fund raiser and other street peddlers do all the time.
  • Dramatize: show pictures of starving children, drowning polar bears, happy users of investment systems. Play sounds, move around, gesture.


Do my dollar sign suspenders and currency cuff links spark your lust for a Bloomberg terminal? (from Skandia’s annual report 1994 [I was 22])

The true value of the book does not lie in these simple bullet points, but in the many real life stories of how the rules have been and can be applied. This is one of few classics I can recommend, however still with the warning that it can feel cynical, simplistic and dated. With a little imagination, I think the suggestions nevertheless can be useful in the 21st century.

Ask yourself what you really want to get out of a social interaction, rather than just speak your mind because it feels good in the moment to tell the other a thing or two. Forgive and forget and look forward, instead of holding a grudge just for the sake of it.


Final remarks and appendix

There it is; buy the book or let the above summary suffice, but either way try embracing and applying at least a few of Carnegie’s suggestions. If nothing else, you’ll seem nicer, and probably accomplish more as well.

If you liked this review, stay tuned for more tips, tricks, advice, musings and reviews by signing up for my free newsletter. As a bonus you would join thousands other in gaining access to my recount of 15 years as a hedge fund manager at the European Hedge Fund Of The Decade.


Appendix – the full advice Monty

Smile (fully, like a dog, with your whole being), greet with gusto – people like feeling missed and welcome

Remember and use names (how does it feel when somebody else remembered your name)


Become interested in other people (pretend they are you, before you knew you and give them the benefit of the doubt)

Let the other do the talking

Listen, encourage, ask (people like to tell stories, but can have a little stage fright; encourage them and you’ll learn so much more)

Make the other feel important – talk to them about them

Talk in terms of the other’s interests

Think in terms of the other’s perspective. Sympathize with their ideas and desires


Begin with praise and appreciation (and when you’ve won them over get to the real order of business)

Give sincere appreciation (always sincere, honest, true, heartfelt)

Begin friendly, flattering, interested, talking their book. Get several YESes early on (Socratic method).


Don’t criticize

Call attention to mistakes indirectly instead of criticizing.

Talk about your own mistakes before suggesting a change (or criticizing)

Make any fault or error seem small and easy to correct – as if the solution was always there

Let the other person save face. Don’t rub errors in their face – in particular not publicly

Be diplomatic – never point out wrongs

Admit your own errors quickly and sincerely

Avoid argumentation (acknowledge and emphasize agreements, admit error, appreciate the time invested and interest shown, listen – don’t debate)


Inspire others subtly through specific praise of ever so small improvements (do not condemn errors and mistakes)

Use incentives, make the other glad to do your bidding (titles, praise, reputation)errors)

Let others believe your idea is theirs. Inception

Ask questions, suggesting subliminally, instead of giving orders


Appeal to nobler motives (“I trust you to do the right thing”, “I believe/know you are fair and honest“)

Challenge: (subtly) appeal to the dire to excel (“I wonder if anybody could succeed in doing that”)

Arouse a want (easier said…)


Dramatize: action, pictures, sounds speak louder than words (as do group activities and alcohol)

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12 thoughts on “Lessons from Carnegie’s book on human relationships”

  1. Which version of the book did you buy?
    There are actually two of them.
    One which was written purely by Dale Carnegie and the other one that was updated and edited by his wife.

    The first one was published before 1964.
    You’re probably reading the updated one by his wife, yet you still find it dated, how interesting?

    Finally, Warren Buffett learned public speaking from a Dale Carnegie course.
    Proof: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OvzZhHzScxk

  2. Smiling I believe is very important, everyone likes being around a person who makes them feel good. Just smiling alone in a dark corner, will brighten up the situation.

    To remember the name of the person whom you are talking to is highly beneficial and makes them feel important (and maybe they so are). And this is not a method many people use, and it stands out when someone does it. For example, “What would you like to drink, Oscar?” sounds better than “What would you like to drink?” The person, whom you are talking to will take notice of you mentioning his name and like you more for it.

    Mikael, how would you “trick” a few yeses out of the person you are speaking with?

    1. I’m not good at all at this. I typically stand alone in a corner smiling like a serial killer.

      If I’m selling, I guess I’d ask time tested questions such as “Do you want to get more clients? Do you want to make more money? Do you want to help people? Do you want more quality time over after work? Do you want to be fitter/stronger?” and so on.

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