3 Relationship Building Skills from “How to Win Friends and Influence People” for Better Communication and Leadership


A few days ago, I was listening to a Tim Ferriss podcast with CEO Coach Matt Mochary. A couple of things caught my attention:

  1. Matt’s smooth approach to communication and his intense and genuine interest in Tim’s story. I believe his listening skill was a significant factor in being able to help coach Tim through his situation.
  2. Tim was discussing his five-year relationship that had just ended. His openness and vulnerability were terrific to watch, and his mistakes and fears made him relatable. 

This made me think of one of my favorite books, “How to Win Friends and Influence People” by Dale Carnegie. This book might as well be the most influential self-help book, especially regarding communication and relationship building skills.

Not only does it provide practical and actionable advice on building strong relationships, but it has also inspired countless other books on communication and interpersonal skills. Since its publication in 1936, the book has been translated into multiple languages and has sold millions of copies worldwide. 

Minor Tangent:

When I started this post, I had this weird voice in my head: “What are you doing talking about an 87-year-old book? Don’t you know it’s the age of AI and ChatGPT!?”

The promise of Social media was that it’d make us feel more connected; nothing could be further from the truth, in my opinion. Now the promise of AI is that it’ll make us more productive… let’s see how that goes. If I had to guess, I believe AI will lead to more production and less productive people.

In the meantime, I think the best promise we Managers Through Leadership can make is to be more human, starting with communication, building genuine relationships, and empathizing with our fellow humans. No AI can replace that.

In this blog post, we’ll look at three of the most impactful lessons from the book that you can apply in your daily life to improve your relationship building skills.

Lesson 1: Become genuinely interested in other people

Genuinely is the keyword here.

One of the most powerful ways to build strong relationships is to become genuinely interested in others. This means taking the time to listen to them, asking questions, and showing that you care about what they have to say. When you take an active interest in someone, they are more likely to feel valued and appreciated, which can help to build a strong bond between you.

The book fails to mention that you need to take this practice to the next level, where you show up for these people; you make sure you have their back when they need you and go out of your way to be there for them. You need to act and follow up on the topics they discuss with you. For example: a team member tells you their loved one is sick and needs a day off to help out, you should empathize and give them all the time they need. But then you can follow up with a text or email checking in and asking if they need anything. Depending on the situation, you can send a small gift from the team to show that you’re thinking of them.

While this may seem obvious, we often need to remember to practice it.

Research has shown that genuinely being interested in other people can have surprising benefits.

For example, a study by the University of Kansas found that talking about themselves activates the same pleasure centers in the brain as food, money, and sex. So, by showing a genuine interest in what someone has to say, you’re giving them a little pleasure boost.

As managers through leadership, it’s essential to understand the needs and motivations of your team members. You can build trust, foster collaboration, and create a positive work environment by becoming genuinely interested in them. When team members feel valued and appreciated, they are more likely to be engaged and motivated, increasing productivity and success. This will also lead to the team members showing interest in each other. Be the example!

Lesson 2: Talk about your own mistakes

I would add vulnerabilities to this title.

In the previous blog post about culture, we discussed relationships and how you can start by letting others into your life by sharing your thoughts, perspectives, feelings, and small personal stories. You can add mistakes to this list.

Leaders and people managers who are willing to admit their mistakes are more likely to build trust and credibility with their team. This can help create a culture of transparency and accountability, where everyone feels comfortable sharing their experiences and learning from their mistakes. By talking openly about your mistakes, you can also demonstrate that it’s okay to take risks and make mistakes, which can help to encourage innovation and creativity.

On the other hand, if you shift the blame unto others, your team members will follow in your footsteps. This study has proven this: The effect of admitting fault vs. shifting blame on expectations for others to do the same.

As managers through leadership, our behaviors can inspire others or breed toxicity.

Lesson 3: Talk in terms of the other person’s interests

A first lesson in this chapter: Dale Carnegie teaches that one of the best ways to connect with people is to discuss their interests. Doing this makes the other person feel important and understood, which can lead to more positive interactions and relationships. Carnegie emphasizes that people are generally interested in themselves, so if we are interested in them and their passions, we are more likely to make a good impression and connection.

But I think we can apply this lesson in a more specific way:

As Managers Through Leadership, we must remember that every team member is unique, with their own needs, preferences, and personality traits. While treating everyone with respect and fairness is essential, managers must lead, engage and manage each team member differently, depending on their characteristics.

For example, some team members may thrive on competition and recognition, while others may prefer a more collaborative and supportive environment. Some team members may respond well to positive feedback and recognition, while others may prefer constructive criticism and opportunities for growth. By adapting our management style to each individual, we can better meet their needs and help them reach their full potential.

(This technique can apply to parenting as well. Effective parenting involves understanding each child’s personality and needs and adapting your parenting style to best meet those needs.)


So, this book is for you whether you’re trying to win friends, influence people, manage a team, parent a child, or just connect with someone new.

Developing relationship-building skills is crucial for anyone in a leadership or management role. The three lessons from “How to Win Friends and Influence People”:

  1. Become genuinely interested in other people.
  2. Talk about your mistakes and vulnerabilities.
  3. Speak to others about their interests.

This will help you connect with your team members more meaningfully and help them feel valued and heard. Ultimately, this can increase your and your team’s engagement, motivation, and success.

I cannot recommend this book enough!

Thank you so much for reading! 

By Joe Khoury