How to win friends and influence people by Dale Carnegie, an interpersonal skills expert, is one of the most practical books I’ve read about human relationships. Here are my favourite quotes from it.
#1 On changing the world
When you’re willing to change the world, start with yourself. When expecting a lot from others, make sure you demand a lot from yourself.
“Do you know someone you would like to change and regulate and improve? Good! That is fine. I am all in favour of it. But why not begin on yourself? From a purely selfish standpoint, that is a lot more profitable than trying to improve others — yes, and a lot less dangerous.”
#2 Understanding others
Criticism is easy. Being constructive and understanding others is much harder.
“Any fool can criticise, condemn and complain — and most fools do. But it takes character and self-control to be understanding and forgiving. ‘A great man shows greatness,’ said Carlyle [Thomas, a Scottish philosopher], ‘by the way he treats little man.'”
#3 Appreciation and flattery
“Of course flattery seldom works with discerning people. It is shallow, selfish and insincere. It ought to fail and it usually does. True, some people are hungry, so thirsty, for appreciation that they will swallow anything, just as a starving man will eat grass and fishworms.”
Carnegie gives a clear distinction between appreciation and flattery.
“The difference between appreciation and flattery? That is simple. One is sincere and the other insincere. One comes from the heart out; the other from teeth out. One is unselfish; the other selfish. One is universally admired; the other universally condemned.”
#4 Advice on human relationships
Carnegie quotes the advice from a business magnate Henry Ford on getting along with others. Ford admits that crucial in building relationships with others is understanding what they stand for.
“Here is one of the best bits on advice ever given about the fine art of human relationships. ‘If there is any one secret of success,’ said Henry Ford, ‘it lies in the ability to get the other person’s point of view and see things from that person’s angle as from your own.'”
#5 On being a good conversationalist
You don’t have to be an extroverted speaker in order to have a good conversation with someone. As Carnegie says, it’s all about being interested.
“So 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.
“Remember that people you are talking to are a hundred times more interested in themselves and their wants and problems than they are in you and your problems. (…) Think of that the next time you start a conversation.”
#6 Admitting that you’re wrong
Admitting that you’re not right can be beneficial and can prevent you from getting into trouble.
“You will never get into trouble by admitting that you may be wrong. That will stop all argument and inspire your opponent to be just as fair and open and broad-minded as you are. It will make him want to admit that he, too, may be wrong.”
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