Be A Leader: How to Change People–Dale Carnegie, Part 4

We’re wrapping up the year with the last in our Dale Carnegie series and review of ‘How to Win Friends and Influence People’. The last part of his book deals with ‘How to bring about a change in people without being offensive or arousing resentment’.  This subject matter may sound manipulative as do several others in our series, but Mr. Carnegie makes several strong points throughout his book stressing that what he’s teaching is not manipulation. He stresses that while chalkboard with letters A, B Cwe are searching for the right way to say or phrase something, it should be phrased so that we are not tricking or coercing. He says what we say should result in a win-win situation for all parties concerned. It should come from the heart. It should be of benefit to the one we’re speaking to as well as us. We’ll see that in our principles today.

If you’re a business owner, you’re the Leader and Mr. Carnegie has given us many principles to implement. As I read the book, I pause after reading a principle and accompanying story and try to think of a current or recent situation where I could have used one of these principles instead of bungling and blurting things left better unsaid or said better! This section deals quite a bit with how to give feedback to an employee –to correct a specific issue while building them up and motivating them. So let’s go through these last 9 principles and summarize.

Principle 1 – Begin with praise and honest admonition. The accompanying story for this principle was of a bank teller who had great customer service skills along with being able to do her daily duties. However, when balancing time came at the end of the day, she was always the last one done and usually problems balancing out. The way it was handled was the supervisor took her aside and praised her for how well she did with the customers and how people were happy with her service. He then said, would you like me to go over the end-of-day balancing procedures with you? With that positive reinforcement coming before what needed to be improved upon, she gladly took the instruction and her end-of-day balancing improved very shortly.

Principle 2 – Call attention to people’s mistakes indirectly. You know when we’ve said to others, ‘well, yes I really like this BUT’, then you finish the sentence. People really listen for the ‘but’ in the conversation. Mr. Carnegie says, use the word ‘and’ instead. Example – ‘We’re happy that you’ve been doing better in English and we think we’ll soon see that same improvement in math’. A big difference.

Principle 3 – Talk about your own mistakes before criticizing someone else. It softens the mistake made if you first mention something you did wrong before bringing up someone else’s shortcomings. I’ve noticed this in a few people – I have referred to it as ‘self-deprecation’. It may sound a bit harsh, but it’s an art if done correctly. No one likes to listen to someone who sounds off like a know-it-all. Many successful speakers I’ve heard use a bit of this – it shows that they are human and everyone starts at the beginning.

Principle 4 – Ask questions instead of giving direct orders. I certainly respond better about following instruction when I know what the goal is. If someone takes the time to explain that to me and perhaps ask me if there’s anything I need to meet this goal, it certainly goes over much better than someone giving orders and acting unappreciative.

Principle 5 – Let the other person save face. I like to call this one ‘there’s the right time and place to tell someone when they’re wrong’. Remember, these principles are for a leader (boss) and his employee. If someone is definitely wrong about a fact, is it necessary to throw it up in their face in front of the room of people? A couple quotes from the book – ‘Even if we are right and the other person is definitely wrong, we only destroy ego by causing someone to lose face. And ‘I would say dignity and self respect—they should not be beaten down.

image of conference table

Principle 6 – Praise the slightest improvement and praise every improvement. ‘Be hearty in your approbation and lavish in your praise’. Approbation is a word we don’t use much anymore – I had to look up a synonym! Substitute praise or approval and you’ll have it! This is important for instilling self-confidence in your workers or even family members. When you see something they do well or have improved upon, let them know! These are important building blocks to a person’s growth on the job or in life.

Principle 7 – Give the person a fine reputation to live up to. Shakespeare said, ‘Assume a virtue if you have it not’.

Principle 8 – Use encouragement. Make the fault seem easy to correct. Praise what is done right and minimize the faults. Doing this really develops confidence in a person. We’ve seen that starting out with praise is an important principle, haven’t we? Mr. Carnegie related an experience where he was encouraged to learn a new game. He had never played bridge and thought it was too complicated. His host told him with his ability to memorize things, the game would be easy for him to pick up. And it was!

Principle 9 – Make the other person happy about doing what you suggest. Be sincere and explain to them why things would be better if they do something in a particular way or by a certain time. This ties in with #4 – when you tell someone the why they are more inclined to agree and work towards the goal.


I’ve benefited from going through the book and actually writing notes for each article in the series. I hope you have as well and now you can come back here if you need a quick refresher on how you might want to handle a situation in your future. Have you been able to apply any of these principles to your life or business? I’d really like to hear about it, so please leave a comment. All the best for a wonderful New Year – it’s time to turn the calendar and our thinking to better ways.

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