In what may be the most powerful self-improvement book of all time, Dale Carnegie published How to Win Friends and Influence People nearly a century ago. He offered simple but profound advice for success at work and in life. Since then, millions have benefited from Carnegie’s guidance on how to improve their ability to relate to others. This update by Joe Hart and Michael Crom, leaders of Dale Carnegie & Associates, brings Carnegie’s simple but profound principles for living to a new generation. Hart and Crom encourage and empower readers to be deliberate and proactive about taking charge of their thoughts, emotions, relationships and future.
- To live well, be proactive about what and how you think.
- Master your emotions.
- Enhance your confidence.
- Accept and value change.
- Let go of regret.
- Make stress a positive force.
- Become more resilient and courageous.
- Cultivate healthy relationships.
- Build and maintain trust.
- Give and take feedback with grace.
- Improve difficult relationships.
- Take the other person’s perspective.
- Clarify your values, purpose and vision.
- Cultivate a community and do good together.
To live well, be proactive about what and how you think.
Consciously choosing your thoughts and attitude is the first step in solving problems. For example, instead of feeling discouraged about a challenge, try to reconsider it and see it as an opportunity to grow.
Pay attention to what you’re thinking. Evolution gave human beings a cognitive inclination called the “negativity bias” – the tendency to think about what could go wrong. Instead of giving in to negativity, think about the ways you react to your thoughts. See if you can interpret a negative perception in a more helpful or positive way. Focus on your strengths and possible solutions as you guide your thinking away from helplessness.
“Almost everything in our lives – relationships, careers, goals, health, achievements, etc. – depends on the first step of taking command of our thoughts.”
Treat unproductive thoughts as a cue that you need to behave differently. Take one action in the context of that decision to change your mental path, such as using affirming words to solidify a new line of thinking. To prepare your mind for success, develop routines, “series of growth-oriented practices that lead to the development of a healthy mind-set.” Routines help you live intentionally. Their benefits include less stress, more predictability, increased confidence, more productive use of your time and more accomplishments that bring an accompanying sense of satisfaction.
Routines also help you develop a growth mind-set by giving you the mental space to reflect and open yourself to fresh thinking. Ask yourself four questions each day: What is working well? What might you improve? What beliefs could help you improve? How can you reinforce those beliefs?
Master your emotions.
Emotions fall into five broad categories: enjoyment, anger, fear, disgust and sadness.Unpleasant feelings warn of danger, while positive ones encourage beneficial action. Negative emotions can contribute to defeat – or, if you control and redirect them – to success. When you want to understand an emotion, pause and ask yourself:
- What do you feel? – Describe the emotion objectively, as though someone else is experiencing it.
- What is the message behind that? – Don’t suppress the way you feel. Consider what it is trying to tell you.
- Is what you feel helpful? – Positive and negative feelings can be useful or harmful. If your emotion isn’t useful, let it go.
- If the feeling is useful, direct it to a productive end – For example, if you’re feeling nervous before a speech, use that feeling to generate energy that will elevate your performance. When you’re done with an emotion, give it 90 seconds and then release it.
Enhance your confidence.
To build your confidence, do difficult things. Strengthen your “self-efficacy” – the sense that you can deliberately change things – by doing things you fear, emulating people you admire, and patting yourself on the back even for minor successes. To build your confidence in being able to count on your own abilities, think positive thoughts about yourself. Focus on what you are good at, and plan ways to strengthen any areas of weaknesses.
Build your self-worth – your belief in your own value – by treating yourself as you would treat a friend. Don’t rely on others’ opinions to gauge how worthy you are.Turn to yourself rather than other people for approval.
Accept and value change.
When life takes a turn, don’t let it discourage you. Change is disruptive, but it doesn’t have to be negative. Even if a change appears to indicate that you’ve failed in some way, it can open a door to bigger and better outcomes.
“Once we stop opposing, we can create a plan and take command of what happens next.”
Accept what you cannot change. Take command by adopting a positive mind-set about your new situation and moving forward.
Let go of regret.
Regret manifests in four ways. “Foundation regrets” relate to failing to build a basic infrastructure for life.“Boldness regrets” revolve around chances you didn’t take. “Moral regrets” reflect on doing wrong or not doing right. “Connection regrets” are associated with failed relationships. Overall, you are more likely to regret not doing things than doing them.
Regrets are valuable because they can guide you toward better choices. When you deal with a regret, decide if it is major or minor, and if you can fix what you regret. For minor, fixable regrets, repair what you can, embrace the lesson and resolve the associated emotions. For minor, unfixable regrets, focus on the lesson you learned. With major fixable regrets, fix what you can repair, and if you face a major, unfixable regret, use its lessons to adjust your future course. Forgive yourself.
Make stress a positive force.
Stress is a normal response to internal or external stimuli, and it can work for good or ill. Good stress energizes you to grow and do better. Bad stress harms you and leads to unpleasant feelings. To avoid burnout, you need to recognize and manage harmful stress.Particularly beware of anxiety, a worry that extends beyond the presence of a stressor.To control stress, think of it as useful. Go through a four-step written exercise: Identify the real problem.Identify its causes, in the order of their significance. Identify how you might solve the problems causing the stress. Choose the best solution and take steps to enact it.
Strategies you can use to keep stress manageable include talking to other people, exercising, minimizing your use of technology and using stress-relieving breathing techniques. Get sufficient rest across multiple dimensions: You need physical, mental, sensory, creative, emotional, social and spiritual rest.
Become more resilient and courageous.
Together, resilience and courage can help you thrive in the face of adversity. Courage is the ability to endure difficult moments and overcome fear.Resilience allows a person to use difficult times and events as engines for growth. Becoming more resilient requires developing your emotional courage, “the willingness to feel your emotions and act at the same time.” When you face a situation that requires courage and resilience, be deliberate about how you respond. First, get your emotions under control. Think positive thoughts, recognizing that some problems are inevitable.
Focus on aspects of the situation you can change, and consider how to move forward. Recall how you successfully dealt with similar circumstances in the past. As you learn from this experience, build up your confidence with affirmations from yourself or others. Recognize and avoid activities that will make things more difficult and try to center yourself around your purpose. Remember being brave isn’t a one-and-done situation. You must reactivate your courage each time you face difficulties.
Cultivate healthy relationships.
Connections fuel your success and your physical and mental well-being. Continually update your connection skills and become deliberate about cultivating relationships.The quality of your relationships is more important than their quantity. Be selective about whom you befriend and which relationships you cultivate.
“The world evolves so quickly that the way we connect with others has to adapt, too.”
Building the trust, respect and knowledge that make up a strong relationship requires taking the time to learn about the other person. Five tips can help you form new relationships or revitalize old ones:
- Show warmth in your body language.
- Pay attention when the other person speaks.
- Find things you have in common.
- Show that you care by giving your time and exploring deeper questions.
- Truly appreciate the other person. Use his or her name and be complimentary.
Don’t substitute social media’s false connectedness for real connections. Text someone directly instead of scrolling through a feed. Commit to person-to-person encounters at least weekly.
Build and maintain trust.
Signs of distrust include a tense atmosphere, defensiveness and a lack of sharing. Watch for those red flags. Building strong relationships and communities requires a foundation of trust.To earn trust, be credible, have empathy and protect confidences. Trust can be expected and “predictive,” based on past experiences or it can be “vulnerability-based,” which allows a person to be authentic and open. That may be possible only within a high-trust group. Such groups create psychological safety, which enables members to share, accept and benefit from constructive feedback and even criticism.
Sharing information inappropriately, being inconsistent and not communicating can undermine trust. If you lose someone’s trust, work to rebuild it by being humble. Acknowledge your role in the breach. Listen to what the other person thinks went wrong, and ask for his or her ideas about fixing things. Follow up with trust-enhancing actions.
Give and take feedback with grace.
Criticism is a destructive response to someone else’s behavior. It locks in on the problem, suggests that other people are faulty and tears them down. Feedback, conversely, affirms the other person and offers encouragement and support for improvement.
“Most people want to do their best and appreciate insights that will help them grow.”
When someone criticizes you, ask yourself if you hold them in esteem and trust them. Then ask if their critique is legitimate. Consider what’s behind the criticism and whether the critic simply has a different perspective. If the criticism is unfair, ignore it. If you think the critic is “subconsciously projecting,” respond with love. Give feedback with your listener’s well-being in mind. Seek to understand the other person first, and choose your words carefully when you suggest a change. Jot down what you plan to say. Try to see the situation from his or her perspective, and adjust your message as necessary.
Improve difficult relationships.
Dealing with difficult people is more about you than them. To thrive in a difficult relationship, create appropriate limits. Identify what annoys you, and then respectfully tell the other person you would like to remove those irritants from your interactions. Once you set a boundary, hold the line, reminding the other person when you feel it’s necessary.
Focus on understanding the other person. Try to uncover the complexities beneath the layers of irritation. Instead of criticizing, create a safe space for growth by listening. Ask for help identifying your blind spots. Consider whether you might be the difficult person. Ask for advice on how you might improve.If all else fails, consider letting the relationship go.
Take the other person’s perspective.
When people cling to the idea that their way is the only right path, they constrain their relationships and tend to ignore or devalue other perspectives. Empathy and connection start with the desire to understand someone else.Rather than trying to convince others to adopt your views, try to understand theirs. To build empathy, ask three types of questions:
- Factual queries about the other person’s life.
- Causative questions that start with “how” or “what,” and that delve into the “why” behind the facts.
- Value-based questions, which explore the person’s worldview.
Listen actively, and try to see things from the other person’s viewpoint. Look for similar experiences you can share. Be open-minded. Avoid judging or stereotyping.
Clarify your values, purpose and vision.
Many people live day to day, checking off their to-do lists without considering the mission or purpose of their lives. What you want your life to mean? Identify what you value by considering your actions, your reaction to experiences, which people you appreciate and what gives your life meaning. List 10 to 20 values, and then choose the top three to five to use as guardrails to keep your life on track.
“A life well-lived often involves some element of service.”
Identify your “small-p purpose” – the reason you’re doing what you do now. Then identify your “big-P Purpose” – the “why” for your life as a whole. Write a purpose statement describing what you want to do, for whom and how. Read it daily. Then create a vision statement describing the world you want to help create. Consider what you want to leave behind and what you have to offer. What does your day-to-day life contribute to that goal? What do you offer that no one else can? Don’t limit yourself to what others say you “should” do. Think expansively. Adjust your goals as your life evolves. Clarify your vision, commit to it and gain support by sharing it.
Cultivate a community and do good together.
Find, connect with and support others who share your purpose. Work together with other people to do good. Give generously and sincerely.
“So much of life is about connecting with others in a meaningful way.”
When you meet people, smile, use their names and let them know you care. Reach out regularly to others.If you have an opportunity to do good, accomplish whatever you can, mustering your intention, courage and sense of responsibility. Help whenever and wherever you can. You could volunteer, start a values-based company, choose a values-aligned career path, or donate time or money. As you take command of your thoughts, emotions, relationships and future, you can realize your potential to be great and you can help others become great as well.
About the Authors
Joe Hart is president and CEO of Dale Carnegie & Associates where Michael Crom is a member of the board.
The book is a self-help guide that aims to help readers live an intentional life by transforming how they approach their thoughts, emotions, relationships, and future. The book is based on the principles and practices of Dale Carnegie, the author of the classic bestseller How to Win Friends and Influence People. The book is divided into four parts, each focusing on a different aspect of personal development:
- Part One: Mindset – This part explains how to use the power of mindset to deal with stress and anxiety, gain perspective on negative emotions, and build resilience. It also introduces the concept of the “inner critic” and how to overcome it.
- Part Two: Relationships – This part shows how to create enriching, rewarding, and enduring relationships with others. It covers topics such as communication, empathy, trust, feedback, conflict resolution, and influence.
- Part Three: Courage – This part teaches how to live courageously and intentionally to build a vision that will bring out the best in oneself and others. It covers topics such as goal setting, decision making, risk taking, creativity, and innovation.
- Part Four: Legacy – This part inspires readers to leave a positive impact on the world by finding their purpose, passion, and potential. It covers topics such as self-awareness, values, strengths, leadership, and service.
- Inner Strength: The authors emphasize the importance of developing inner strength, which they define as a combination of resilience, self-awareness, and emotional intelligence. They provide tools and exercises to help readers build mental and emotional fortitude.
- Effective Communication: The book explores the significance of effective communication in both personal and professional relationships. It offers techniques for improving listening skills, conflict resolution, and assertiveness.
- Leadership Skills: “Take Command” delves into leadership principles and strategies for those seeking to enhance their leadership abilities. It provides guidance on how to inspire and motivate others while fostering a positive work environment.
- Goal Setting and Planning: The authors stress the value of setting clear goals and creating action plans to achieve them. They offer a structured approach to goal setting and time management.
- Building Enduring Relationships: Building and maintaining strong relationships is a central theme of the book. It covers topics such as trust-building, networking, and effective collaboration.
The book is a comprehensive and practical guide that offers valuable insights and tools for personal growth. The book is well-written and easy to read, with clear examples and exercises. The book draws on the latest research and interviews with more than a hundred high-performing leaders from various fields. The book also includes stories of everyday people who have applied the principles and practices of Dale Carnegie to overcome challenges and achieve success.
The book is suitable for anyone who wants to improve their life in any area. The book is especially relevant for those who are facing uncertainty or change in their personal or professional lives. The book provides a framework and a roadmap for living an intentional life that is aligned with one’s values and goals.
The book is not a quick fix or a magic formula. The book requires readers to be willing to reflect on themselves, take action, and make changes. The book also acknowledges that personal development is an ongoing process that requires constant learning and adaptation.
The book is a worthy addition to the Dale Carnegie legacy. The book updates and expands on the timeless wisdom of Dale Carnegie for the modern world. The book is a testament to the enduring relevance and impact of Dale Carnegie’s work on human relations.