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Learn the Art of Persuasion and Charisma with Dale Carnegie

Posted on 1/19/2023, 9:27:07 AM

Wildly successful former salesman Dale Carnegie earned the equivalent of nearly $12,000 per week in his heyday in the 1930s. He famously shared his tips and tricks for navigating negotiation, cultivating charisma, and practicing the art of persuasion in his 1936 self-help classic, How to Win Friends and Influence People. 

Carnegie’s tips for better living and getting what you want have been implemented by countless entrepreneurs on their way to success and are still influential today. Here are a few pearls of wisdom on making your way in the business world from the book that made Carnegie famous. 

Protect Others’ Pride and Win Big

While it may seem that success comes by elevating yourself above others, Carnegie argues differently. In fact, he says that the best way to get ahead is to develop a genuine interest in other people. Protecting others’ pride by avoiding arguments and conflicts is the first step to winning them over and persuading them to listen to your point of view, Carnegie suggests.

To build others up and change their minds, Carnegie argues that you should be friendly, praising your audience rather than criticizing them as a general rule. Everyone believes that their own name is the “sweetest sound” they’ve ever heard, so a great leader thinks first of how to elevate those around him. Ask questions and make kind, gentle suggestions rather than demanding or commanding the people you’re leading or working with. By making others think that even your own great, noble ideas are actually theirs (or yours together), you are far likelier to build trust and loyalty than if you constantly disagree or attempt to show your superiority. 

Similarly, Carnegie encourages readers to own up to and acknowledge their own mistakes. This may seem counterintuitive, as leadership is often portrayed as being about dominance and displaying your strength. But avoiding accountability and downplaying your own errors while highlighting others’, suggests Carnegie, is actually a sign of weakness. You’ll be more persuasive if you’re open and honest about your flaws.

Listen More, Talk Less

At its heart, How to Win Friends and Influence People is all about effective communication. But instead of perfecting the art of argumentation and rhetoric, Carnegie encourages his readers to develop the art of listening carefully. When you approach people with openness and a friendly demeanor, they are more likely to share and work with you rather than attempting to compete with you.

When we listen to others, we learn more about them: their hopes, dreams, desires, belief systems, ethics, and viewpoints, for example. Knowing what makes others tick is the first step to persuading and leading them. 

Instead of attempting to dominate every conversation, Carnegie suggests an attitude of quiet but active listening. Encourage those around you to talk about themselves and their interests, and you’ll be far more charismatic. And when you speak, Carnegie says, you should speak more to the interests of your conversation partner and less about yourself. When it comes to charismatic, persuasive conversation, less is more. Talk is cheap, he says, but listening is pure gold. 

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