How to Win Friends and Influence People | Study Guide

Dale Carnegie

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How to Win Friends and Influence People | Part 3, Chapter 1 : How to Win People to Your Way of Thinking (You Can't Win an Argument) | Summary


Key Takeaways

  • People sometimes correct others or engage in arguments to "get a feeling of importance and display ... superiority." Often this input is "unsolicited and unwelcome."
  • Carnegie states, "you can't win an argument" because even if you "win," you lose the other person's goodwill by having "made him feel inferior." Furthermore this person will likely not change their opinion no matter what arguments you present against their reasoning.
  • It is bad business to argue with customers. Instead agree with them whenever possible to avoid "room for an argument."
  • Reason and facts may fail to persuade, whereas agreement and genuine appreciation of the other person can pave the way for cooperation and resolution of problems.
  • Allowing others to express themselves at length offers a feeling of importance that soothes their ego and makes them more inclined to be "sympathetic and kindly."
  • Arguing takes time from more important personal pursuits and can make you feel bad about losing your temper or self-control. It's better to yield arguments to others if the issue isn't really that important—choose your battles wisely.
  • "Welcome the disagreement" as a way to see a new perspective or correct a potential mistake.
  • "Distrust your first instinctive impression," which may make you want to argue or "be defensive." Stay calm and think through your initial reaction.
  • "Control your temper" and "listen first" during potential arguments. Let the other person have a say, and give it fair consideration.
  • "Look for areas of agreement" that allow both parties to get on the same page.
  • "Be honest," especially if you've made a mistake. Admit it and apologize.
  • People want—to be heard: "Promise to think over your opponents' ideas and study them carefully." Thinking over their arguments also helps you avoid rash action, which can lead to mistakes.
  • "Thank your opponents sincerely for their interest" because their comments may be helpful to you.
  • Delay allows time for all facts to be laid out: "Postpone action to give both sides time to think through the problem." While taking this time to think, ask yourself if your opponents could be right, whether your reactions will improve or harm the situation, and what the consequences might be if you decide to argue or not.
  • Principle: "The only way to get the best of an argument is to avoid it."
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