This is probably one of the most familiar book titles to anyone looking to become a more powerful and successful communicator. In a way it is the ’emotional intelligence’ book of its day.

The content of the book in the main, is as solid today as it was when it was first published back in 1937, I wanted to repeat (paraphrased at times) Carnegie’s 9 tips on how to get the most out of his book (and any book for that matter)…

  1. Develop a deep, driving desire to master the principles of human relations
  2. Read each chapter twice before going on to the next one
  3. As you read, stop frequently to ask yourself how you can apply each suggestion
  4. Underscore each important idea
  5. Review this book each month
  6. Apply these principles at every opportunity
  7. Make a lively game out of your learning by asking others to ‘catch you’ violating any principles
  8. Check up each week on the progress you’re making
  9. Keep notes in the back of this book on how you’re applying the principles.

While reading this book (for the umpteenth time over many years) in readiness for this book review, I decided the best way to present the content and value to you is to summarise Carnegie’s key principles.

  1. Don’t criticize, condemn or complain
  2. Give honest and sincere appreciation
  3. Arouse in the other person an eager want
  4. Become genuinely interested in other people
  5. Smile
  6. Remember people’s names
  7. Be a good listener – encourage others to talk about themselves
  8. Talk in terms of the other persons’ interests
  9. Sincerely make the other person feel important
  10. The only way to get the best of an argument is to avoid it
  11. Show respect for the other person’s opinions. Never say “You’re wrong”
  12. If you are wrong, admit it quickly and emphatically
  13. Begin in a friendly way
  14. Get the other person saying “yes, yes” immediately
  15. Let the other person feel that the idea is his or hers
  16. Try honestly to see things from the other person’s point of view
  17. Be sympathetic with the other person’s ideas and desires
  18. Appeal to the nobler motives
  19. Dramatize your ideas
  20. Throw down a challenge

For Leaders…

  1.  Begin with praise and honest appreciation
  2. Call attention to people’s mistakes indirectly
  3. Talk about your own mistakes before criticizing the other person
  4. Ask questions instead of giving direct orders
  5. Let the other person save face
  6. Praise the slightest improvement and praise every improvement
  7. Give the other person a fine reputation to live up to
  8. Use encouragement. Make the fault seem easy to correct
  9. Make the other person happy about doing the thing you suggest.

I have two cautions to you in reading this summary. The first is that there is a lot of ‘why’ and ‘how’ presented in the book that provides context to some of these one-line tips, and I recommend a more in-depth reading than just skimming and trying to interpret these tips. The second is that while this is a land-mark book and well worth the read (if you haven’t already done so), I personally recommend as an even more powerfully practical and more scientifically researched and validated approach to your conversations with others, that you read Crucial Conversations by Patterson, Grenny, McMillan and Switzler.