Dale Carnegie on the Secrets of Dealing with People

Do you recall how easy it was to make a friend in kindergarten or at school? All it took was, “Let’s be friends!”, and so it was.

Now, as you grow older, you might have noticed that that effortless and, to some extent, naïve way of dealing with people no longer works. It takes something bigger to attract, communicate with, and influence people. Curious to know what? Then keep reading, as in this article you will find the secret of dealing with people in your personal and professional life.


Dale Carnegie: Learn Dealing with people

Learn from Dale Carnegie how to deal with people: It is not news to anyone that people need to socialize, as this is one of our basic needs. The community has always played a crucial role in humans’ history, the initial function of which was to ensure survival, as it is safer to live in a group.

Up to now, we have developed social skills more than any other species, changing and adding to the key functions of every society.

Nowadays, we might not be dependent on the community in the same way as was so in the past; however, skillful socializing is arguably one of the key attributes a person should have in the modern world since it usually requires a good network to solve or achieve anything.

Moreover, socializing does still influence a person’s mental state and health, which is fairly important for our lives.

In this way, we have ended up having the most extensive communities yet devised with the most sophisticated ways of communicating with hundreds and even thousands of contacts and friends-followers, which seemingly should indicate how successful we are at dealing with each other.


The Tragedy of Adult Age: Misunderstandings

Then why are there still failures to communicate, too many instances of offense given, and misunderstandings which make it so hard to communicate effectively and establish good rapport with other people? The answer requires a little bit of knowledge about human behavior.

As we become adults, we lose the immediacy of childhood, and things get more complicated.

Now we have individual interests, preferences, attitudes, and filters through which we look at the world. We often prejudge and misunderstand people because of all these differences.

But, alternatively, this does not mean that we should all be identical to be able to communicate. Otherwise, life would be so boring. On the other hand, all it actually takes is the right approach.

Exactly the right approach is offered in the book of Dale Carnegie “How to Win Friends and Influence People”, one of the best-selling books of all time for learning how to behave and communicate with people.

In the first chapter of the book, DaleCarnegie explains 3 key principles to get started on your path to perfect communication and social skills with people, which, as the author promises, will allow you to make friends quickly and easily, increase your popularity, and keep your human contacts smooth and pleasant.

6 Handshake Rule – Are We Still 6 People Away From Each Other?

Do not criticize, condemn, or complain!

The first and quite essential rule for every person who looks for the secret of dealing with people is: do not criticize anyone! Criticism in its nature is a quite futile and negative tool, as the only thing it does is to place a person into a defensive position, rejecting everything, and falling back on self-justification.

In other words, criticism is seen more as an attack or an assault that instinctively triggers a defensive posture. You can think of any animal that is brought under attack. Quite logically and predictably, the animal will fight back, biting and harming.

It works the same way with people and criticism, and that is why criticism is dangerous – it wounds a person’s pride and sense of importance, arousing resentment.

Healthy criticism can occasionally improve behaviour, but only under just the right circumstances, and with only a few types of people, and in very rare cases.

Most of the time, criticism will cause a negative reaction.

Dale Carnegie on the Secrets of Dealing with People
Boss criticizes the work of young intern

Apart from being unhealthy and dangerous for the person who is being criticized, criticism has the same negative and dangerous effect on the person who criticizes.

First of all, it is simply a waste of time, energy, and nerves because, as noted, criticism seldom helps to achieve the desired result.

Secondly, history is full of examples of overly critical people who enjoyed correcting others and showing their flaws and who took themselves to the edge of very dangerous situations.

Dale Carnegie uses the example of Lincoln and his youthful passion to criticize others. He enjoyed criticising others so much that he wrote long letters and poems ridiculing and criticizing people, and leaving those letters in public places or posting them in newspapers.

One of these letters almost cost Lincoln his life when the person whom he was criticizing – James Shields – challenged Lincoln to a duel.

Don’t criticize them; they are just what we would be under similar circumstances.

After surviving the duel through the intervention of luck, Lincoln learned an invaluable lesson in the art of dealing with people. After that experience, he never again wrote an insulting letter or ridiculed anyone. And from that time on, he almost never criticized anybody for anything. He ended up being the man, who said: ”Don’t criticize them; they are just what we would be under similar circumstances.

” The next time you are tempted to criticize someone, think of these words, and it surely will give you another perspective on the situation and the other person’s behavior.

If we cannot criticize people to influence them and change their behavior so we can have a better relationship with them, what can we do to get the desired effect?

Here comes the second principle from Dale Carnegie.


Offer honest and sincere appreciation!

Dale Carnegie on the Secrets of Dealing with People
Negative emotions of the colleague

How do you think you can make a person do something? Does it take authority and power? Or maybe fear? Well, even though such approaches may work, they can cause really undesirable repercussions.

Remember that the best way to make someone do something is by making that person want to do it.

This is the same as saying that the only way I can make you do something is by giving you what you want. This straightforward and seemingly easy advice changes all. But here is the issue: what, in fact, do you really want?

Some of the things most people want include health and long life, food, sleep, shelter, money, and things you can buy with money, sexual gratification, the well-being of close ones, etc.

Almost all of these needs or wants are usually gratified, except one, and that is the feeling of appreciation.

According to Sigmund Freud, there are only two motives that drive every action of a person, the first of which is the desire to be great. John Dewey, the American philosopher, reinterpreted it as the desire to be important.

Exactly this need of being important, which is as strong and real as the desire for food or sleep, is very rarely gratified – and thus is something that everybody wants.

The deepest principle in human nature is the craving to be appreciated

William James said: ”The deepest principle in human nature is the craving to be appreciated”. The desire for a feeling of importance is one of the chief differences that distinguish mankind from animals. If our ancestors hadn’t had this pressing urge for a feeling of importance, civilization would never have happened. Without it, we would have been just about like animals. For example, it is the desire to be important or great that makes you follow the latest trends, become educated, and successful.

It is also the desire to feel important that pushes children or even adults to feign illness, so they can enjoy attention and care from the people around them.

Ironically, according to the book of Dale Carnegie, some people even go crazy to gain this feeling of importance, as they cannot find it in reality.

Recognizing this interesting tendency in humankind, and how hungry many of us are for a feeling of importance, imagine what you can achieve by offering honest appreciation.

You can design your own way of dealing with people, discovering how actually easy it is. The rare individual who honestly satisfies this heartfelt wish to be appreciated will hold people in the palm of his or her hand.

But, here is an important aspect about appreciation. If the appreciation you offer is shallow, selfish, and insincere, it ought to fail, and it usually does.

Of course, there are people who are so hungry for appreciation that they will swallow anything you offer, but most people sense at a subconscious level whether the appreciation expressed is based on truth or is simply flattery.

The border between real and fake appreciation lies simply in sincerity. One form of appreciation comes from the heart while another comes from selfish motives, and that is what creates the difference in the result.


Arouse in the other person an eager want

Having understood the core desire of people, we can go further and continue with the third principle: arouse in the other person an eager want.

Civilised and positive chat of two business people
Civilised and positive chat of two business people

Dale Carnegie in his book gives an amazing example to explain the biggest secret of attracting and dealing with people. The author notes that he often goes fishing during the summer and, even though he personally likes strawberries and cream, he has found that for some strange reason, fish prefer worms. That is why, when he goes fishing, he doesn’t think about what he wants. Carnegie thinks instead about what the fish want. For this reason, instead of putting strawberries with cream on a hook, he uses worms for fish and thinks: “Wouldn’t they like to have that?”

Why not use the same technique when fishing for people? Why not talk about what other people want and like?

The funny thing is that we believe that if we are fond of something, most probably others will be, too. But indeed, people are interested just in their own tastes and what they want.

For this same reason, you can never influence anyone by saying what you think and what you want. On the contrary, the only way to influence other people is to talk about what they want and show them how to get it.

It works this way because every action you have ever performed since the day you were born was performed because you wanted something. You cried to communicate that you were hungry, shouted to express your anger, you did whatever you needed to do to convey what you felt, needed, and wanted.

It was always about you; and now that you are an adult, nothing has changed. Even though you care and worry about your family, friends, and close ones, you still do things because of what you think is right, good, or bad for you.

Imagine now that a stranger might approach you and start talking about what he wants, assuming that this will matter to you. Absurd.

Dale Carnegie gives another great example to illustrate how self-interest works. He tells the story of one of his course participants, whose son was so against going to kindergarten that he would cry and shout every time he heard that word.

The common reaction of a parent in such a case would be to shut the door to the child’s room and make it clear that he must go to kindergarten whether he wants to or not.

Because this is what a parent wants – his child to be in school for personal reasons that might include more time for work, for instance.

But a child cannot conceptualize his parent’s needs. He knows what he wants, and that is not to go to kindergarten. Recognizing that this does not really help a child to start kindergarten in the best frame of mind, the father sits down and thinks, “If I were my child, why would I be excited about going to kindergarten?”

The parent makes a list of all the fun things the child could do in school such as finger painting, singing songs, making new friends, etc., but does not stop at that.

The parent puts the list into action and begins finger-painting while sitting next to the child, having fun.  In no time, the child is begging to participate, the response to which is: ”Oh, no!

You have to go to kindergarten first to learn how to finger-paint”. Then with the greatest enthusiasm, they go through the whole list of things the child could learn and all the fun he could have in the kindergarten.

The next morning, the child comes downstairs early and is found sitting sound asleep in the living room, waiting to go to kindergarten, not willing to be late.

Let’s agree, this approach takes way more time and effort than simply shouting at the child and making him do something. It takes patience, intelligence, and creativity. But the outcome will be so different.

Similarly, in other life situations, be it with your colleagues, friends, partners, or anyone else, you can use the same approach of shifting from your selfish perspective to the perspective of the other person and finding ways to motivate and encourage.

You can even use this approach in your professional or academic life, as communication plays a crucial role in these fields as well.

Quite often you will need to persuade someone or make a good impression, starting from writing a motivational letter while preparing an application to everyday small talk. As an example, Carnegie tells about one of his students, who needed to move to another state and find a new job.

She wrote the following letter to twelve banks:

“Dear Sir:

My ten years of bank experience should be of interest to a rapidly growing bank like yours. In various capacities in bank operations with the Bankers Trust Company in New York, leading to my present assignment as Branch Manager, I have acquired skills in all phases of banking including depositor relations, credit, loans, and administration. I will be relocating to Phoenix in May, and I am sure I can contribute to your growth and profit. I will be in Phoenix the week of April 3 and would appreciate the opportunity to show you how I can help your bank meet its goals.


Barbara L. Anderson”


What was the result? Eleven of the twelve banks invited her to be interviewed, and she had a choice of which bank’s offer to accept. The reason was that Mrs. Anderson did not state what she wanted, but wrote in the letter how she could help them and focused on their wants, not her own.

You know this even yourself, as surely you have encountered many letters from salespeople in which companies offer you their products or services.

We can immediately spot annoying and selfish letters in which the only thing that is being communicated is how amazing the company is, how many satisfied customers they have, what the company wants, and that you will even lose something by not doing business with them.

At the end they may even ask you to sign up for their newsletter, requiring that you take action and annoying you even more.

All they have spoken about is themselves. Typically, few will respond to such letters, as nobody cares what a company wants that has little or no interest in what you want and think.

As Professor Overstreet has said: “First, arouse in the other person an eager want. He who can do this has the whole world with him. He who cannot walks a lonely way.” And this is one of the key takeaways for every person who wants to improve relations with people.

The world is full of people who are selfish and self-seeking. That is why the rare individual who unselfishly tries to understand and serve others has an enormous advantage, because there is simply too little competition. Owen D. Young, a noted lawyer and one of America’s great business leaders, once said: “People who can put themselves in the place of other people, who can understand the workings of their minds, need never worry about what the future has in store for them.”

That is why you should always try to put yourself into the shoes of the other person, never criticizing or relying on authority, but rather showing how a relationship with you can be better for the opposite party in a creative and indirect way. Be authentic and sincere, and the world will be attracted to you.

Read books of Dale Carnegie here.

Photos: Shutterstock

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