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Dale Carnegie Course Review – Wrap Up

I first read How to Win Friends and Influence People in 1996.  I did all the stuff it said, made a lot of friends, got along better with people, etc. etc.  But after a while I began to get tired.  It was taking too much energy to be positive all the time.  I got tired of remembering names.  I couldn’t always think of sincere compliments.  I decided that maybe this Carnegie stuff wasn’t for me.

Later I learned that several people whom I admire recommend the Carnegie course.  (If you read the latest Warren Buffet bio, he actually performed an empirical evaluation of the techniques, complete with statistical analysis of his results.)  I decided to give it another chance.  But this time I’d keep in mind something I learned from Stephen Covey: the difference in techniques and principles.

In The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, Covey points out that much of the modern self help literature focuses on techniques.  Say this, write that, go there, watch those, dress this way, etc.  The problem is that techniques can only help so much.  Real permament change must be grounded in principles.

My problem before was that I was treating the Carnegie material as techniques instead of principles.  I was trying to do those things instead of being the kind of person for whom those things come naturally.  As my enthusiasm waned, I burned out.

The Carnegie course is like anything else – what you get out depends on what you put in.  If you attend and then forget about it, it won’t help you.  If you attend, study the material, commit to it, and work on it, who knows where you can go.  This time I’m determined to practice this until it sticks.  Not until I’m good at it, or it’s easy, or fun, or I’m tired of it.  I’m working at it until it becomes my nature.

Carnege Session 12

{ 35 comments… add one }
  • Jann Freed January 19, 2009, 8:44 pm

    My son just completed the program and I am a big fan. It was not inexpensive and we paid for it as parents, but we think it was a great investment for his future and he does also. Thanks. Keep it up.

  • Ray Land March 24, 2009, 10:31 pm

    Great site Eric!

    I am currently in the Dale Carnegie Course and had too read the books before taking the class. I am sold on the principles being magical. There isn’t a doubt they have changed my life, the way I handle people, the way I think. Just thought I’d tell you that your site is great and you seem to my on an awesome track to being connecting with yourself (good golly, that’s awesome!)

    Have a great week!


  • David Pesante January 7, 2010, 9:29 pm

    Couple of questions… which courses do you guys recommend for myself (47 VP of Product Management) and my son (13)…

  • Eric January 8, 2010, 9:52 am

    Hey David.
    The Carnegie program also offers a course on public speaking. That is the one I’d really like to do next. I hear lots of good things about it (maybe more than the famous Carnegie course).
    As for your son, I don’t know what to recommend. Certainly reading How to Win Friends would be good.

  • Tom January 11, 2010, 3:07 pm

    Hi Eric,
    thanks for the review, very helpful since I was considering taking the course. Sounds like on a scale from 1 to 10 it’s around 7… would you take it again?

  • Eric January 11, 2010, 6:46 pm

    Hey Tom.
    I would do it again. It depends a lot on your classmates. The better they are, and the more they’re into it, the better the class will be.

  • Martina January 13, 2010, 11:36 am

    Hi Eric,

    great site. Thanks for your thoughts. I agree that the classmates would make a difference to the experience of the class. Do you have thoughts on how to find out or evaluate that before the class? Cheers, Martina

  • Eric January 13, 2010, 1:16 pm

    Hi Martina.
    I don’t know of any way to check out your classmates ahead of time. But you might consider recruiting people you know to attend. If you know people interested in learning and getting better, you could encourage them to attend with you.

  • Jordan September 12, 2010, 8:56 am

    Great website – great comments.

    I’m taking this course through work as part of an ongoing training process to eventually assume a sales director position within the organisation I work for.

    I’ve taken different training courses and I guess what you take home with you, as Eric said, depends on what you put into the course.

    There is also the CPSA organisation that offers lots of courses focused on managerial techniques, sales techniques, public speaking and such… I’ve taken courses through them and they’ve helped for sure.

    In order for any of these courses to be really beneficial though, it must be part of your life and not just a ”text book” facade.

    I’m looking forward to start the Dale Carnegie courses and hopefully, I will walk away from it a better person!

  • Henry May 7, 2012, 6:36 pm

    I have the feeling that this great positive comments are written by all of those who are involved economically with the company. its simple a way to help them sell what does not deserve to be promoted and paid for courses that cannot be classified within the realistic meaning of “courses”. I have completely lose my money with one of the dale Carnegie Courses”.

  • Anish Mahale June 18, 2012, 12:35 pm


    I have heard a lot about the Dale carnegie Training and its effectiveness on individuals, teams and companies.
    I am a seasoned Hr professional. My profession expects me to regularly meet new people, and very often address a huge audience . I am pretty good in the latter. But i want to be the best. My long term goal is to get into teaching. Will the “public Speaking Mastery” course help me to be a dynamic and a vibrant presenter. How is this training different from the modern techniques available on the internet and well known public speaking books.

  • Eddie August 10, 2012, 12:23 pm

    This “course” is a scam. If you have any remote level of people skills, you really will not learn anything new in Dale Carnegie. Also if you wanted to transfer the credits to a university (like I did), good luck. That was their major selling point to get me to take the course and three years later they still haven’t helped me in doing so. Their course instructors are no different than a used car salesman.

  • Kara September 11, 2012, 8:02 pm

    I am so glad that I came across this blog. It is a beautiful and honest demonstration of the Dale Carnegie Course and a delight to read!

    Yes, I work for the Dale Carnegie Organization, and I would like to be honest about that upfront. I took the Dale Carnegie Course last year and loved it so much that I made sure to get a job in this company a mere 5 months after graduating the course.

    For those of you that have a negative reaction toward the course, I apologize; I sincerely apologize that your course did not provide you with the same experience that others have posted about.

    Eric, I could not agree more with the following statements: “…Real permanent change must be grounded in principles…The Carnegie course is like anything else – what you get out depends on what you put in…If you attend, study the material, commit to it, and work on it, who knows where you can go.” Thank you for sharing that!

    My question to you, Eric, is where are you now?? Are you still grounded in the principles??

  • Eric September 13, 2012, 10:03 am

    Hello Kara.
    Thanks for those kind words.

    I should write a follow up post. The short answer is that I still believe strongly in these principles; I still practice them personally; it is still a struggle for me sometimes.

    As a software developer, I often go several hour stretches without talking to anyone else. Furthermore, the literal nature of computers requires me to think literally. So after several hours of talking to a machine, it can be tough to switch back into ‘people’ mode. I have to make a conscious, disciplined effort to engage people.

    I hope you are enjoying your work at Dale Carnegie.

  • abc November 8, 2012, 12:15 am

    I have been reading his books since my teens and I am his big fan too.

    But applying this principles to everyone has proved to be very wrong in certain phases of my life.

    I was used by some people for their own benefit and I suffered educationally as well as well as socially because of it.

    Infact some people made me loose my real good friends and I was just nice to them and because of them I couldnt sustain my relations and my work.

    But time and circumstances both change, again life is beautiful after exit of such people from my life, hope I havent applied this principles to them.

    This really confuses when not to apply as people really take advantage.

    Guide please and do share if you also have similar experiences.


  • R D December 5, 2012, 5:11 pm

    It’s easy for people to blame the course, the instructor, the facilities, the length of the program, the books, the manual, etc. for why they didn’t receive what they hoped from the course.

    The fact of the matter is the Dale Carnegie Course works. It’s rooted and grounded in human emotion which doesn’t change. It’s principle centered. It’s other person focused. There is no gimmicky tricks or insincere techniques to weasel out of someone what you want.

    People don’t understand that the “common sense” things are the most effective. You hear coaches of sports teams remark all the time the importance of mastering the fundamentals. Carnegie is fundamental and if you master the fundamentals you’ll be in a stronger position for long-term success.

    His principles don’t guarantee success all the time. It doesn’t make iron clad promises that you’ll have people bend to your will. The philosophy behind Carnegie’s principle is simple: change the way you approach people and you’ll influence them to reciprocate in kind.

    So, if we become less critical, more appreciative, better listeners, more interested in others, sympathetic, etc then we create an environment where people will want to reciprocate in kind.

    No magic. No gimmicks. No quick fixes.

    – Dale Carnegie Trainer

  • Eric December 5, 2012, 5:35 pm

    Well said RD.

  • Gary Dawson January 13, 2013, 5:32 pm

    Took Carnegie about thirty years ago. Thought that I would wet myself first four or five times. Have used the principles and techniques for decades. They work. I have spoken hundreds of times led groups etc. Life changing stuff even today.

  • Merlin Dewize February 5, 2013, 4:02 pm

    I must agree with ABC – Its a book about how to abuse friends and brainwash people into submission.

    Its the art and mastery of control and mysticism

    A very good tool to produce results for own benefit when your morals are evil and a very ‘bad’ tool to loose your self worth when your morals are ‘good’.

    Bad – meaning parasitic
    Good – meaning symbiotic

    If you were brought up by selfish and greedy parents and and inherited the same attitude towards life, this is a must read! But if you are a person who believes in fairness and equality and justice – stay away from Carnagie and stay away from these people. This is what the first page suggests when advising you not to mention that you have studied these rules to anyone.

    For those who want to stay away – first of all – identify who you are and who everyone else is and make sure you know the result of the fights you are about to fight before they begin.


  • Eric February 5, 2013, 4:58 pm


    I don’t understand what you’re saying. Are we talking about the same book/course? It’s almost like you’re talking about something else.

    Can you cite an example of abuse, brainwashing, mysticism, or anything at all bad from How to Win Friends?

  • Solid Snake April 22, 2014, 2:15 am

    I am currently enrolled and am wrapping up the course this week and I have a few opinions I would like to express. I had to take this class to graduate. It was paid for by the school and everything, so on the surface, it is not a terrible deal. Now here’s where things fall apart.

    I have not read Carnegie’s books handed out to me in the class yet, and have no desire to. After taking this class I see it is, as Merlin alluded to, buying a used car. It is a phenomenal dead on the surface,but you soon realize that all of your brake lines are rusted clean through and you are SOL. This class SEEMS good on the surface, but underneath, I feel it is a total scam and I feel bad for those who paid 3 grand for 4 hours of talking, and theatrics. I knew I smelled something fishy about this class.

    The content is crap as well. It is a bunch of dilly dallying theatrics that are totally useless to me. I get sick of people referring back to certain points ipwhen countering stress, and they put strong emphasis on the praying aspect. That’s where I began to dislike the class really fast. Religion is also a scam to me, so that may tell you how I feel about that aspect.

    As for my thoughts on Carnegie’s work? I feel like he made a killing in his lifetime on brainwashing people into thinking that using people, and kissing their rears (enough of this honest and sincere appreciation crap already folks), which I think is sad that people still buy into. I am not the business type, I am a student. Maybe the content of the program is more suited to the business type, I do not really know. All I know is that this program has NOT improved my people skills ONE BIT, relieved my stress ONE BIT, and has not helped me virtually at all! It is actually making me more stressed to actually do this class every week! Talk about adverse effects!

    In closing, I firmly believe that Dale Carnegie Training is a lie. It is like a placebo effect. You THINK it helps you, and you spare brainwashed into thinking that is is all working in your favor, but in reality you are just manipulating people, and kissing their rears. I understand and respect that everyone has different results, but I would just like to share my results, because as the great Paul Westerbers once said, “I’m so, I’m so, unsatisfied, hey, are you satisfied?”

  • Eric April 22, 2014, 10:29 am

    Thank you for your input, Solid Snake.

    I have to disagree with your characterization of the material as manipulation. Everyone seeks to frame his/her message in the best light. We all want to be well received and for our message to be well received. If you were taking a pretty lady out for a first date, would you arrive in your ugliest, dirtiest work clothes or in something more flattering? It’s only reasonable to dress your best, look your best, smell your best, speak your best, etc.

    Manipulation involves deception. Back to my date analogy: if you wear a ginormous ring and attempt to appear as a super bowl champion, now you’re manipulating. If you say things that are untrue about yourself or anything else, now you’re manipulating. But if you take DC’s advice to use her name because people like the sound of their names – isn’t that just good manners? If you follow DC’s counsel to smile is that manipulation? Of course not.

  • Aliyah May 7, 2014, 3:38 pm

    So I have been thinking about applying for the dale carnegie course although before applying i wid like to know..what can i expect to do? Like what sort of activities do they make you do? Public speaking? Plays? Quizzes? Games? What? Like ask you questions? Make u interview people? Interview you in front of a bunch of people? Make u talk about your personal life ? Make you personally greet amd speak to every person in the room? Call u up and make you have a conversation with each person? What? Sorry im jusy curious.. Like what kind of topics n stuff do they even make you speak on?

  • Hannah May 7, 2014, 3:41 pm

    Are you expected to personally get to know each and every member in a class? What if its a co-ed class and some people are mot comfortable speaking to people of the opposite gender?

  • Katia June 27, 2014, 9:47 am

    What people have done over centuries is to take the shell, the form, and to try to be “the real thing” by just using the form. That is deception and a manipulation, out of desperation.

    Be a good person inside, cleanse your heart, and everything else will come naturally.
    Why win people (and later have them be disappointed in you) if in the end you die anyway. Eternal life is our focus, not materialism of this world

  • Ronald Donett August 9, 2014, 9:36 pm

    To me, Dale Carnegie’s book should be subtitled How To Decieve People And Get Away With It. I sincerely believe that if you treat others like you would like to be treated yourself and if you can see things from the other’s viewpoint as well as your own, you will get along fine in this world.

  • John October 3, 2014, 1:13 am

    Interesting how the omes criticizing the course are the ones who’ve either never taken it, or went into it expecting a negative outcome. I’m in the course right now. As with all courses, I suspect the outcome is at least partially dependant on the quality of the instructors, and I will say that my group has very good instructors. I haven’t found any of the tools so far to be deceptive or forms of manipulation. Instead I find it’s just simple chanhes in the way I communicate that make interactions with people far more personable and memorable, and as a result more successful. Looking forward to the rest of the course.

  • Spice August 12, 2015, 3:30 pm

    Took the course this week, and had a negative experience. The facilitator came across as very insincere and aggressive.

    I was expecting to go into the practical application of the nine principles (as we were give the book as pre-reading), but we spent the majority of the first session (an entire day) learning memory skills and remembering the names of the people in the session.

    I honestly need practical tools on getting willing cooperation and how to deal with difficult situations.

    Looking at the next few days I’m facing if there more theatrics involved and we don’t get into the principles, I am definitely gonna check out.

  • Ram August 21, 2016, 8:50 am

    Hello Friends,

    May i know what course are you talking about ?

    I am strongly passionate to redesign my career into ‘Trainer’ job in companies. Because, stipulated job implications are much into speaking and writing. More into literary. I am now working in Telecos core, my current profile and interest are depleting only because of my reverie and pleasure in reading politics-phylosophy-psychology. Can i gain momentum from ‘Train The Trainer’ course of Dale Carnegie ?

  • DL November 11, 2016, 8:21 pm

    I just took a three day course. I came home and said to my husband on the first day that this course is at a brainwash level. While it is all positive stuff – I really dont want to influence people to do what I want by telling them how important and awesome they are and that it was their idea in the first place. Mind CONTROL! Brainwash – Manson used this stuff to gain his cult following. Soldiers reading Carnegies books were punished and the books were burned – read up on the good and bad before taking this course!

  • A G May 7, 2017, 1:16 pm

    These comments are based on each person’s perspective. Brainwashing is a general term for convincing people of something that is different than what they were thinking. I think those that HATED it, that felt like it was a scam, really have to tell the world that they ‘will not tolerate any shit!” But in reality, is that what you really want in life? Do you want to allow EVERYONE in your path to understand that YOU will not let anyone get over on you!?
    If that is your personal mission, then DC is probably the wrong fit. Those kinds of people who do NOT along with anyone else – who do NOT seek personal growth, who feel like they hate the world and everyone in it – who are not interested in being able to function better in society with others, who have never thought it ‘worth their time’ to help people around them, not even help tutor kids in math, for instance.. really are not in the right group.
    For all the people who HATE positive behavior, who HATE people who will not look at things as a pessimist, who shoot for goals in life that include alienating every single person they come in contact with and walk away feeling like they were the RIGHT one… then DC is definitely not for you.
    I wish each person on this comment section could actually claim what it is that makes them a ‘realist’ and how influential their involvement is to society. If you are such a “winner”, in your mind, and you don’t want a course on how to better interact with others.. then go somewhere else. You are inflicting your life on a self help group when you do not even want to help yourself. You are just PISSED at the world and need to let EVERYONE know you are smart and don’t need help. Stop wasting your time on commenting on self help blogs posts and just crawl back into your isolation hole.

  • Daniel November 4, 2017, 6:44 pm

    In the course now, if you don´t know that people like to be listened to, then this is for you. If you understand that people like to be noticed and their ideas noticed, then save your money, this is what all of this is about. Also, you become exactly like all other insurance salesman if you follow this to the core, it is up to you if that is desirable….

  • Mary Jarrett November 28, 2017, 3:33 pm

    I have been using the principles of Dale Carnegie for over 30 years. I have had incredible success in sales in my life and I firmly believe it is due to these principles. My current position requires cold calling and closing on one call. The most difficult sale of all times especially to a President/ CEO of a bank. But I have excelled at this and really value the lessons I have learned. Extreme confidence, ability to relate in less than 5 minutes, and overcoming objections to get the sale. I attribute much of my success to Dale Carnegie.

  • Gabriel January 23, 2018, 3:58 pm

    It seems to me like Carnegie`s approach is to smooth out relations by making people more passive, and subtle. Its highlight the Socratic method of getting four yeses vs leading a conclusion upfront is pretty obvious. Perhaps for the amount it charges the program could be more meaningful in transforming people`s inner selves by exposing the general public to valuable Christian concepts that play out throughout their professional life. Instead of tutoring them on superficial pharisaic etiquette of how to “work the system.“

  • Gabriel January 29, 2018, 3:52 pm

    I`m actually really sorry about the “pharisee“ comment regarding Dale Carnegie`s program. I think if people are learning, and interacting it`s worth the money. I`m really sorry I was out of line..

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