How to Win Friends and Influence People

Dale Carnegie

Change font size:smallmiddlebig

A friend of mine was a guest at the White House for a weekend during the
administration of Calvin Coolidge. Drifting into the President’s private office, he heard
Coolidge say to one of his secretaries, “That’s a pretty dress you are wearing this
morning, and you are a very attractive young woman.”
That was probably the most effusive praise Silent Cal had ever bestowed upon a
secretary in his life. It was so unusual, so unexpected, that the secretary blushed in
confusion. Then Coolidge said, “Now, don’t get stuck up. I just said that to make you
feel good. From now on, I wish you would be a little bit more careful with your
His method was probably a bit obvious, but the psychology was superb. It is always
easier to listen to unpleasant things after we have heard some praise of our good
A barber lathers a man before he shaves him; and that is precisely what McKinley did
back in 1896, when he was running for President. One of the prominent Republicans of
that day had written a campaign speech that he felt was just a trifle better than Cicero
and Patrick Henry and Daniel Webster all rolled into one. With great glee, this chap
read his immortal speech aloud to McKinley. The speech had its fine points, but it just
wouldn’t do. It would have raised a tornado of criticism. McKinley didn’t want to hurt
the man’s feelings. He must not kill the man’s splendid enthusiasm, and yet he had to
say "no." Note how adroitly he did it.
"My friend, that is a splendid speech, a magnificent speech,” McKinley said. “No one
could have prepared a better one. There are many occasions on which it would be
precisely the right thing to say, but is it quite suitable to this particular occasion? Sound
and sober as it is from your standpoint, I must consider its effect from the party’s