How to Win Friends and Influence People
Dale Carnegie
Contributed by Jack Shields
Chapter 3

In any environment, individuals want others to see things in their way. People usually have diverse opinions and ideas of looking at things. However, there are circumstances where it is desirable for individuals to look at things from a common point of view. For example, during negotiations, individuals may look at things from many angles. For the group to adopt a universal perspective in looking at things, some principles must be followed.  

The first principle that Carnegie proposes is the avoidance of an argument. Winning a case through an argument is undoubtedly a pyrrhic victory. Carnegie captures this fact with the statement that, "misunderstanding is never ended by an argument but by tact, diplomacy, conciliation and a sympathetic desire to see the other person’s viewpoint.” Thus, listening to other people and understanding their perspective is an effective way of making other people to see things in a common direction.

Showing respect to the opinions of other people is a way of earning respect from other people. Open rejection and display of intolerance towards the views of other people is a sure way of making enemies. Saying, ‘you are wrong' concerning the opinions of other people is not likely to make other people appreciate your opinions. The most important things are first to appreciate their opinions, even when they are ridiculously unacceptable. The moment a person feels unappreciated and unimportant, it would be difficult to have them playing an important role in the engagement. The principle summarizes that "Show respect for the other person's opinions. Never say, "You're wrong.”

Very few people appreciate when they are wrong, even in circumstances where facts are glaringly against them. Admission of being on the wrong or acceptance of guilt is an essential way of winning other people during a bargain. While at times it may seem complicated, the fact is that acceptance of guilt helps to ease tension among the other persons and create an environment that allows one to interact freely with the others. When a person fights allegations, a lot is lost. However, when he yields, he gets much more than his bargain. However, that does not mean an individual ought to be arrogant and boisterous when he is on the right. Instead, it is compelling for the person to tactfully and humbly confront the others so that they may see things in his way.

As Abraham Lincoln famously said, a drop of honey catches more flies than a gallon of gall. What is the meaning of this? Always start in a friendly way. Carnegie says that when approaching a person, especially one with whom you are not very familiar, begin in a friendly way. Friendliness is an essential medicine to many things. It inspires confidence just as it also brings hope. Genuine friendliness makes people change the negative attitude that they may have had regarding other persons. It eases tension as it also invites other people to express their opinions. Being friendly must not be misconstrued to acting friendly. When one operates frankly, it may soon be realized, and the ramifications will be devastating to the interaction. When a person realizes that the other party is acting friendly to achieve specific objectives, a withdrawal is highly likely.

Finally, let the other person do a great deal of talking. Taking too much spoils many things. During a conversation, it is necessary to weigh words and make the right choice of facts to present to the other party. The only way to guard against making inappropriate statements is to allow the other persons to do a lot of the talking. Let the other party do much of the talking and talk only when it is necessary. It is critical to provide only the information that is requested or that which is essential for that particular moment.


Making people depart from their line of thought and adopt a different way of looking at things is perhaps one of the most challenging things that human beings face. In most cases, people hold their positions strongly, and it takes a lot of influence for them to change. In the desire to change the perception of other people, Carnegie suggests that winning through an argument is not the most desirable way. Arguments usually end up spoiling the course of the discussion. Secondly, allowing the other people to take charge of the talking is beneficial since it provides an opportunity to understand them and determine the weak points through which an attack may be possible.

Many people forget to be kind to other people. Friendliness is an art that all the people need to appreciate. Showing genuine kindness is critical in attracting other people to a discussion, and that may make it possible to draw them close to the discussion table. The most important lesson that Carnegie passes in this here is that arguments never bring victory. Understanding, reasoning as well as charm are some of the ways through which individuals could be made to change their minds.

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