How to Win Friends and Influence People | Study Guide

Dale Carnegie

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How to Win Friends and Influence People | Prefaces | Summary

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Key Takeaways

The text opens with three introductory sections that discuss the book.

Preface to the 1981 Edition

  • Written by Dorothy Carnegie, this preface first reviews the book's unexpected and immense popularity upon its initial publication in 1936.
  • Mrs. Carnegie asks, "Why revise a book that has proven and continues to prove its vigorous and universal appeal?" She answers that her husband constantly revamped the material to keep up with the times, so a revised edition is in keeping with the author's own methods.
  • The revised edition is essentially the same in content. Only a small amount of outdated content has been removed and replaced with contemporary examples more relevant to modern readers.

How This Book Was Written—and Why

Dale Carnegie tells why he wrote the book, at a time when the vast majority of books failed to make money, and why the reader ought to read it.

  • Through Carnegie's public speaking courses, he learned that many of his students needed skills in "dealing with people ... probably the biggest problem you face, especially if you are in business." Carnegie claims that only 15 percent of a person's financial success is based on knowledge; the rest comes from leadership ability and personality.
  • Although people at the time were interested in "how to understand and get along with people," no books addressed this subject. Carnegie decided to fill this need by writing the book.
  • Carnegie began by studying biographies of successful people. He first delivered the material as a 90-minute lecture and then urged his students to test his suggestions in the real world. As students reported their experiences, he expanded and improved the material. What began as a single card with a printed set of rules expanded into a leaflet, then booklets, and finally (15 years later) a book.
  • Carnegie gives appetite-whetting examples of how his principles have helped people and businesses succeed. He concludes by stating that the book is "an action book," implying that readers must take action to succeed, rather than simply read the content.

Nine Suggestions to Get the Most Out of This Book

  • The top piece of advice offered is that readers should develop "a deep, driving desire to learn" along with a strong "determination to increase your ability to deal with people."
  • Further suggestions include reading each chapter twice, pausing to reflect on how to apply the book's principles, making notes in the book, regularly rereading the book each month, applying the techniques to try to "form new habits," making a game of using the principles, and analyzing and recording personal results achieved when using the techniques.
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