How to Lose Friends and Alienate People

Dale Carnegie provided my first insight into the self-help movement back in the ‘80s and his words still hold true whether you are a business owner, executive, manager, team leader or individual contributor. The article below by Loren Ekroth provides a synopsis of Carnegie’s insights and the potential implications of not applying his wisdom.

“The only way to get the best of an argument is to avoid it.” – Dale Carnegie

How to Lose Friends and Alienate People

By Loren Ekroth

How to Win Friends and Influence People is one of the first best-selling self-help books ever published. Written by Dale Carnegie and first published in 1936, it has sold over 15 million copies world-wide. Today’s article shows the results people get when doing the opposite of what Carnegie recommended.

1. Carnegie wrote: “Become genuinely interested in other people.” You? To alienate, show no interest in people you are talking to. Don’t ask them about their lives and work.

2. Carnegie: “To make a good first impression, smile.” To alienate others, put on a stern and serious face to meet other faces you meet. (Perhaps that will make you look serious and intelligent.)

3. Carnegie: “Be a good listener. Encourage others to talk about themselves.” To lose friends, listen in fits and starts while rehearsing what you plan to say or looking around the room for a more attractive person.

4. Carnegie: “A person’s name is to that person the sweetest and most important sound in any language.” To alienate people, don’t learn techniques to remember names and call people you’ve met by their name. Instead, say “Sorry, I can never remember names.” (If you argue for this limitation, you’ll own it.)

5. Carnegie: “Let the other person do a great deal of the talking.” To alienate others, grab at least half or more of the talking time, even if you have to interrupt to get your share. It’s about YOU, not WE.

6. Carnegie: “Show respect for the other person’s opinion.” To lose friends, let others know they’re wrong when their opinion differs from your own. If they make little factual mistakes, quickly point them out. Also point out any mispronounced words.

Resource: Dale Carnegie’s book is evergreen with timeless principles and examples of how and when to use them.


Catch yourself in an activity that alienates others! What actions can you take to move from alienating to influencing? Share what you learned below.

Used with permission of Dr. Loren Ekroth, publisher of “Better Conversations” newsletter. Complimentary subscriptions at