How to Win Friends and Influence People (UX tips)

Jan 28, 2020

After a few years even great books begin to fade. Time goes by and my memory can’t hold on to everything. I want a change. The New Year is here and new habits are here as well.
From today — I’d like to start sharing my UX notes from books with you.

I’m starting with Dale Carnegie and (probably the worst title on the planet) “How to win friends and influence people”! It’s an old book and probably still one of the best written about self-development. It will for sure help you to become a better UX designer, parent or human. The title looks like a bible for salespeople and manipulators, but that’s not the case at all!

This book works as a reminder to be a better person. There is no big secret in being more likable — do as you would have done unto you.

Interested? Here are my notes & citations: 

Yes Man

To win someone’s confidence make him or her agree with you a few times in a row. This pattern is broadly used in current apps — there is no need to create an account instantly, instead you have the possibility to try or use freemium models.

Don’t create a flow in which it easy for the user to say no — it is hard to get a yes after a no!

Saying Someone’s Name — it’s Magic

Just imagine, what word perks you up?
It is not sale, sex, or free drinks it is your name. 
Our name is something we know well and rely on. 
Our name sounds sweet and is something we’ve heard all of our lives.

I need to mention Ogilvy (the inventor of personalized mass mailing)! He used this and so can you! 
Make your brand communication personal — start with the user’s name. 
Memorize the name and use it the same way in discussion and in the interface.  

Is it too hard for you to remember names or development of the app seems too pricey? Think again ;) Make it personal!

Attention and Time 

Attention is highly valuable in the current economy, we can estimate the value of a digital product by the time and frequency of use. Humans crave attention much more than they do digital products. Instead of waiting for likes and influence we can start by genuinely listening and observing.

“To become great artists who can replicate the big picture, students must learn to focus on the small particulars. Nowhere in life is this truer than in human relations.”

It’s great to look to our users and gather feedback. That’s also the number 1 talent of UX researchers. 

You can practice listening every day: using proper body language, speaking adequately and having a good mindset. This will bring you friends, knowledge, and research skills. 

Think about the individual you are speaking to, and not about what we want to hear or say. 

Not only the big picture 

A leader needs a vision but —

“In the same respect, your biggest and best intentions—for a relationship, for your followership, for a company or collaborative endeavor—will regularly fall short of their potential if your inspirational intentions do not translate into small acts of service and value.”

Small acts of service should resonate with your vision or simply make a user feel comfy in a digital space you’re creating for him or her every day.

This might be viewed by some as a fancy micro-interaction, but a kind word goes a long way. It’s a good idea that when your interface crashes, apologise in the error message.

The user/human is never wrong 

Even if we disagree with someone, Carnegie suggests not to use words that express our certainty. This will close the discussion and your possibility of convincing someone. 

“Even if the other person is wrong, we only destroy ego by causing someone to lose face. We do nothing to change his or her behavior.”

In UX, we often deal with errors and often struggle to admit that some of them are directly our fault, or at least not due to the users. 

Remember to make it sure and clearly what happened, and acknowledge if the error is yours — this can benefit the individual and the app.  Carnegie suggests using praise first before critiquing. This is the best form of human conversation.

Keep in mind that in human-interface interaction people usually do not read the whole text, they just scan, so, it’s very important to stay concise with your communication

“Many people begin their criticism with sincere praise followed by the word “but,” which signals that the criticism is about to begin. This may make the listener question the sincerity of the praise. Use “and” instead and provide constructive advice rather than criticism. This is possibly the most effective way to address an issue in written form without seeming false in your praise. Beginning with praise and appreciation will help you help employees be more productive, vendors be more committed, and friends and family be more inclined to see your point of view. A positive outlook always places interactions on a positive path”


In every business, there is a need for connection and understanding.
You can invest heavily in marketing to win users, but at the end of the day, they’ll see through your tricks. Your product should give real value. Learning if our responses answer the user’s needs is probably one of the toughest tasks for designers. Today we can use the fake it till you make it approach — but that probably wouldn’t be something that Dale would agree with unless we can continue to build trust.

Praise to change behavior

I think Grammarly proves this  — because I often get amazing emails with stats — praising me, my productivity, wording, etc!  They are nice and make me want to keep up my performance.   

“To change somebody’s behavior, change the level of respect he/she receives by giving him/her a fine reputation to live up to. Act as though the trait you are trying to influence is already one of the person’s outstanding characteristics.”


Dale says — be kind, and the rest will follow ;) Let’s be helpful and use this wisdom to create better experiences. 

“What is essential,” wrote Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, “is invisible to the eye.” This is an important truth to keep in mind when dealing with those you would like to win over. Influencing others is not a matter of outsmarting them. It is a matter of discerning what they truly want and offering it to them in a mutually beneficial package.

I look toward reding your feedback in comments. I hope this article has enlightened your way of thinking.

Please help me choose the next book — What would you like to read about next? 
Thinking fast & slow or Leonardo da Vinci’s biography?

All the quotations are made from book by Dale Carnegie — “How to Win Friends and Influence People”. Retrieved from kindle with some effort.  🙂

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