Customer Reviews: How to Win Friends and Influence People
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Showing 1-10 of 72 reviews(2 star). Show all reviews
on March 7, 2014
EDIT: March 24, 2014.

I've been giving a lot of thought as to why this book didn't work for me, and I think I've figured it out.

There is an old saying -- walk softly, but carry a big stick. I've heard it said often, but was never really clear on what it meant. I have it now. The thing is, your niceness is only valuable if there's a threat you might cut it off at any moment. The "big stick" is there to say 'I'm inoffensive now, but I might attack if needed.' Carnegie does not teach that -- he tells you to be nice, and be nice, and keep being nice, and somehow everyone will reciprocate. But this does not really happen, at least in anything but the most superficial relationships. You know how they say "chicks don't like nice guys?" It's that phenomenon at work.

If you read the book, you'll notice that most of his example success stories are about people who are already in authority trying to get better behavior out of underlings -- like the construction manager whose workers wouldn't wear their hardhats, or the story of Charles Schwab fixing his employees who ignored the No Smoking sign at work. Of course it makes them happy and agreeable if THE BOSS is being nice to them! But if you're just a nobody who hasn't any power over their lives, who cares? They've got more important things than to go out of their way for you in turn. You can give give give, but if they don't perceive your kindness as valuable, it doesn't matter.

I also highly recommend the review at as this person had a very similar experience to mine as far as the kind of "friends" you win by trying this.
(original review:)

When I first got this book, about 10 years ago, I was extremely impressed with it and most pleased with my discovery. I learned a lot about how people think and how we can unintentionally hurt people, how kindness can be more influential than criticism, etc. My copy of this book is all dog-eared and full of underlined passages. I've read it multiple times.

But I can say after 10 years of putting it to practice, that for me, this book really seems to have utterly failed in the promise of its title.

I have a suspicion some of this failure is ultimately a failure caused by the book's past success -- that is, the book became so influential, especially amongst business people, that the public has grown accustomed to these tactics. They've become immune. The recommended actions consequently don't have power anymore. Example: the book talks about the value of greeting people with a smile. But now, everyone expects to be greeted with a smile during business exchanges, and knows subconsciously it's an effort to manipulate them. They don't return the smile or become better humored; instead they seem to perceive your staged(?) grin as evidence that you're not a "real" person who is to be treated respectfully, but a flunky who is just trying to kiss up to them.

I also had a problem, personally, as a female with this book's recommended behaviors. I have discovered, time and again, that following the advice about being nice and pleasant seems to just make men think I'm trying to have sex with them, leading to many unpleasant situations, both in business and daily life. I'll bet Carnegie didn't worry that women come off as flirty and submissive when following his advice, because in the 30s women didn't usually need to conduct business with men. Which brings me to my next point --

I notice most of the reviews that complain about the book being dated are referencing the writing style or the anecdotes. Actually, I think the book is dated because it was born out of a totally different culture. A lot of stuff has changed since 1937. A lot of behavior that nowadays is acceptable would have been considered shocking or very low-class when this thing was written, and so this book was not written to anticipate.

All in all, I just find no one cooperates with the recommended behaviors, even when you literally do them by the book. I'll try to overlook people's flaws and mistakes as advised -- and the people seem to just take advantage of it to do worse quality work or be more rudely behaved. I'll try to make the other person feel important and take interest in them -- and wind up getting molested for my trouble because they think it's an act of sexual interest. I'll suggest instead of instructing -- and find my idea beaten down all the worse because it sounds "unsure." I'll try to be friendly -- and get walked all over.

After analyzing the issues, I'm convinced the book ought not be called How to Win Friends and Influence People. A more apt title would be How to Be Friendly and Avoid Conflict. Those are the valuable lessons of the work. The rest -- it's stuff that applies to old men making business relationships, not real friendships, nor typical social interaction for joy's own sake, nor trying to get superiors to heed your views.

In the end, I think I might actually be worse off for having read this book and trained myself to its techniques. I've been brought much harm and little good from it.
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on April 9, 2013
I've read this book 3 times total. The rereads occurred while I was still sold on the content of my first reading and implementation of the techniques. That was 10 years ago.

I will say this, this book will have an impact. At first you'll be genuine when trying the techniques and be impressed by how they work, then the techniques will become habit and second-nature, and before you know it you'll be on the receiving end listening to people drone on and on, people who you don't really care about but made them feel important anyway, and who are now thrilled they found some schmuck who will listen to them (e.g. your lame co-worker; your confused and needy and lonely clients who have boundary issues; the crazy person on the bus who now talks to you on the commute instead of themselves, etc.). Then you'll get annoyed and only want to use the techniques to manipulate people and not to make any so-called "friends."

Then you'll get disgusted by yourself because you're being a manipulator, and since you don't want to be genuine because you'll have a bunch of lamo "friends" draining the life out of you if you are genuine, you either have to live with being a shameless manipulator, or disavow the techniques in this book out of principle.

This book is still a beneficial read and also beneficial to attempt to practice simply because you'll become equipped to spot anyone who has read this book and is performing Carnegies techniques on you.

I think of this book everytime I run across a manipulating car salesman- "I care what you think, you're so important" -type of person. I think "I bet they read How to Win Friends and Influence People."

In fact, a recent encounter has actually inspired me to write this review. So, there ya go.
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on July 30, 2015
This has nothing to do with the book content - just the way it was printed.

Umm, what on earth? This looks like it was printed off of someone's computer. The cover is super pixelated, the text inside is huge. I've heard this book is amazing and excited to read it, but as a graphic designer, it's hard for me to get past this awful cover and print quality.
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on July 31, 2015
"9 Ways to Change people without causing offense" "6 ways to make people like you" etc. While it is an interesting read, it is formatted like an internet article with dubious anecdotes in support of each point. Hardly something I'd expect out of such a highly regarded text.

In summary, "Be consistently nice, supportive, genuine and interested and people will like you."
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on January 17, 2014
This outdated book is essentially a guide to how salespeople can win over clients by making the client feel important, talk about himself, feel listened to, etc. Long ago this was probably revolutionary but now it's just the way everyone sells. The problem is that this book's concepts are so simple ("remember the person's first name") that they sound like your grandfather patting you on the head, telling you to just smile and people will treat you nicely the rest of your life. It just ain't that easy!

Most shocking is that he encourages a type of lying--both indirectly (by praising people that you're really upset with to get them to do what you want) and directly. The biggest failure in the book is that it doesn't actual tell you how to achieve some of the "principles" he espouses. Some blanket statements are made about what to do or not to do, but overall concepts are rarely given practical illustrations and instead the author talks about Lincoln or some distant politician/businessman/millionaire who applied the principle and suddenly life was a success. Impractical.

What I conclude after reading this is that society was changed by the author (whose real name isn't Carnegie) and this book, but it wasn't in a good way. It tells the salesperson to be genuine and patient but resulted in people being fake and pushy. Despite the words that are used, the ultimate point that is pushed is that you need to make others "feel" important and listened to in order to get what you want. That's very different than yourself actually feeling that others are more important and interesting than you are.
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on June 8, 2015
This SPECIFIC printing of the book is HUGE!! It is 8.5 x 11 with gigantic writing. It's like a college manual. I was not expecting it to be so big. With that said, I will, of course, still read it and hopefully enjoy it. I just didn't want such a BIG book!!!!
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on October 2, 2013
This book was written decades ago and I can see how back then it might have been more groundbreaking perhaps, but in today's age I found it to be nothing but a bunch of common sense. Unless you are autistic or have severe social problems I do not see how this book can help you. It tells you to smile more at people; To be interested in them; to be respectful to them; etc... and the premise is if you do these things they will treat you likewise.

The main problem I have with this book is the same that i have with most books on this subject- It basically claims that if you treat people in a sincere and respectful, positive manner- they will do the same for you. However this is simply not true. I am so tired of books claiming that people who are not nice and respectful are not popular and don't have influence... they most certainly do! This is most apparent in high school where the popular kids are often bullies putting others down, but I've seen it also happen in adult life. Haven't we all? I know in my life I've witnessed people who lie, cheat, steal and stab their friends in the back who are hugely popular and have loyal friends who stick by them regardless. And I've also known people who are respectful, kind and loyal be stabbed in the back repeatedly and abandoned by their friends. An interview with Hugh Laurie comes to mind (He played Dr. House on the TV show HOUSE.) The interviewer asked him why such a mean and disrespectful character was so hugely popular with audiences. Hugh Laurie answered that in his own real life he's noticed that people do not necessarily have to be likable or decent human beings in order for people to like them. That often mean and terrible people still have loyal friends by their side who will gladly laugh with and encourage the terrible person's behavior. I think that pretty much everyone who lives life long enough can see these words as true. It's obvious that the skills of obtaining friendship are much more complex than: 'be good, positive & loyal and others will be good & loyal to you.' Yet books out there are much more interested in being politically correct than they are in providing any actual useful information. This book is no different.
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on October 28, 2012
... and I thought Facebook was the main example of misuse of the word "friend".

Great book to teach you how to feign empathy and pretend to care about people in order to be successful in your career while subtly worsening yourself as a human being. At least it can make you laugh now and then, as some advice is so blatantly phony. This is a book about manipulating people while doing your best to make them feel they are not being manipulated. (So, the words "influence people" in the title are quite apt.) It confuses appearances with substance, and it constantly misuses the term "genuine". "Be genuinely interested in people's problems" is meaningless advice. "Genuine" cannot be taught. You either are genuine or are not. The only thing you can teach is to *pretend* to be "genuinely" interested in people.

The one point I'd give this book is that if you utterly lack any kind of basic social skills, it will at least teach you one or two.
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on March 11, 2015
Girlfriend said now that I am in sales I should read this book. I've been in sales for 2 years and basically already doing all of these "steps". If you're not very outgoing and have a hard time maintaining a conversation then READ THIS BOOK! If you have no problem making small talk and winning trust from people this will waste your time.

Basically the book is this;
-smile when talking
-Care about others stories and relationships
-Dont wine about yourself contantly to others
-Basically don't be a selfish person

Might be a good read for you, but for me it was more like a review of how to be a good person.
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on January 27, 2013
I think you get the idea of his philosophy after about 1/3 of the way through.
Wasn't interested enough to
finish it.
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