Published: Tuesday 28th April 2015

Winning Friends & Influencing People

Perhaps the most valuable tool in our new business repertoire is the ability to persuade and influence people – clients, prospects and teams. Understanding and finessing the art of persuasion has spawned a veritable literary tsunami.  The book regarded by many as the seminal work on the subject is ‘How To Win Friends And Influence People,’ authored by Dale Carnegie in 1936.    

Carnegie dedicates a chapter to ‘How To Win People To Your Way Of Thinking’ – now who amongst us isn’t a little intrigued to find out more? For the purposes of this blog, a snapshot of the principles he advocates is as follows:

  1. You can’t win an argument. The only way to get the best of an argument is to avoid it.
  2. Telling people directly that they’re wrong is a direct strike at their intelligence and self-respect. It’s far more effective to admit that you may be wrong, and that further investigation of the facts is necessary.
  3. If indeed you are wrong, admit it. Immediately.
  4. Start with praise and show appreciation. Begin your conversation in a constructive and friendly manner.
  5. At the outset, find commonality in the opposing views rather than emphasising where you differ.
  6. Try to get to ‘yes’ early in your conversation. Once the opposing individual says ‘no’, it is likely that they will dig in as a matter of pride.
  7. Let the other person do the talking, and listen. Let them exhaust their objections so that constructive examination of their views, and yours, can commence.
  8. Allow the other person to believe that the idea was his/hers.
  9. Try honestly to see things from the other person’s perspective.
  10. Appeal to nobler motives: in short, articulate the higher cause or purpose   that is the rationale for your point of view.
  11. Dramatise your ideas.
  12. Throw down a challenge – this provides the motivation to excel.


The working principles in Carnegie’s book are as relevant today as they were back then. They are invaluable tools for us in new business, relying as we do on our persuasive communication skills.

If you would like to learn more about how to hone your persuasive skills, join us on Thursday 21st May for breakfast and a session that explores the business psychology of persuasion.  For more information click here

Janine Abrahams