Why Consultants Should Read ‘How to Win Friends & Influence People’


One of the books everyone reads at Atomic is Crucial Conversations. I really enjoyed this book as it has a lot to do with negotiation, and I like to negotiate and debate.

Dale Carnegie’s How to Win Friends & Influence People could be an excellent precursor to the Crucial Conversations read. I believe it is imperative to build a strong relationship before you can really have an effective crucial conversation.

For me, this book was very similar to another book I enjoyed Zingerman’s Guide to Great Service, which is focused on the power you have to uphold a brand or create a great experience with every interaction with a customer.  I’m sure the content in all three books is nothing new, for most people, but the way in which the stories are delivered make the concepts really sink in.  The hard part is making sure we are constantly on point to truly give a shit and deliver what is best for our clients.

In our line of work, we have to quickly build and maintain relationships as we start new projects on such a frequent basis. Crucial Conversations was another great read as it has helped me while maintaining business and personal relationships.  For example, I have been working hard at defusing possible crucial conversations before they start by better identifying early warning signs.

I think How to Win Friends & Influence People should be a precursor because it’s extremely difficult get to a win-win scenario or just have a serious productive discussion without having trust and respect in place.  The principles Carnegie points out can help immensely in expediting this process. These principles are not shortcuts to building relationships, but they can help you build relationships from the ground up, in a more direct and targeted fashion. You become more effective in building relationships because you understand what information exchange and connections need to happen in order to build a strong foundation of a relationship.

The book is broken up into 6 sections, but there are 4 sections that I think all Atoms should read:

  • Fundamental Techniques in Handling People
  • Six Ways to Make People Like You
  • Twelve Ways to Win People to Your Way of Thinking
  • Be a Leader: How to Change People Without Giving Offense or Arousing Resentment

Fundamental Techniques in Handling People

  • Principle 01 – Don’t criticize, condemn, or complain.
  • Principle 02 – Give honest and sincere appreciation.
  • Principle 03 – Arouse in the other person an eager want.

Six Ways to Make People Like You

  • Principle 01 – Become genuinely interested in other people.
  • Principle 02 – Smile.
  • Principle 03 – Remember that a person’s name is, to that person, the sweetest and most important sound in any language.
  • Principle 04 – Be a good listener. Encourage others to talk about themselves.
  • Principle 05 – Talk in terms of the other person’s interest.
  • Principle 06 – Make the other person feel important – and do it sincerely.

Twelve Ways to Win People to Your Way of Thinking

  • Principle 01 – The only way to get the best of an argument is to avoid it.
  • Principle 02 – Show respect for the other person’s opinions. Never say “You’re wrong.”
  • Principle 03 – If you’re wrong, admit it quickly and emphatically.
  • Principle 04 – Begin in a friendly way.
  • Principle 05 – Start with questions to which the other person will answer yes.
  • Principle 06 – Let the other person do a great deal of the talking.
  • Principle 07 – Let the other person feel the idea is his or hers.
  • Principle 08 – Try honestly to see things from the other person’s point of view.
  • Principle 09 – Be sympathetic with the other person’s ideas and desires.
  • Principle 10 – Appeal to the nobler motives.
  • Principle 11 – Dramatize your ideas.
  • Principle 12 – Throw down a challenge.

Be a Leader: How to Change People Without Giving Offense or Arousing Resentment

  • Principle 01 – Begin with praise and honest appreciation.
  • Principle 02 – Call attention to people’s mistakes indirectly.
  • Principle 03 – Talk about your own mistakes before criticizing the other person.
  • Principle 04 – Ask questions instead of giving direct orders.
  • Principle 05 – Let the other person save face.
  • Principle 06 – Praise every improvement.
  • Principle 07 – Give the other person a fine reputation to live up to.
  • Principle 08 – Use encouragement. Make the fault seem easy to correct.
  • Principle 09 – Make the other person happy about doing what you suggest.

The content covered in this book is great for initially creating relationship, but continuing those relationships and having tough discussions maybe better covered in Crucial Conversations.


This is a widely successful book, but it is relatively unknown to the small younger group of people who I have discussed this topic with.  Therefore prompting me to write this post.  The book has sold well over 15 million copies since its first publication in late 1936.  The book title and the chapter titles might be a little forward, and you might feel strange holding a copy on the bus, but the concepts and practices are well worth the read or re-read by anyone.

Pro Tip:  One way to continue to keep these at the forefront of your mind is to have an alert set on your phone with a section or individual principle to alert you in the morning at the same time your alarm goes off.  This will get you thinking about doing the right thing first thing in the morning.

Are there other similar books you would recommend? Leave a comment and let me know…

  • I 100% agree, Bryan.

    A few folks that are participating in our coaching experiment have recently read the book. One of my goals for the near future is to create a visible library of 5-10 timeless books for the office. None of the reading would be mandatory, but it would be a solid foundation for people who want to learn more about general consulting and business skills. This will definitely be one of the books in my list.

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