Winning with People: Discover the People Principles That Work for You Every Time

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Relationships are at the heart of every positive human experience. Maxwell, a master communicator and relational expert, makes learning about relationships accessible to everyone. The most sophisticated leaders and salespeople will pick up on skills that will make them even better, and relational novices will learn skills that can transform them into relational dynamos.
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Relationships are at the heart of every positive human experience. Maxwell, a master communicator and relational expert, makes learning about relationships accessible to everyone. The most sophisticated leaders and salespeople will pick up on skills that will make them even better, and relational novices will learn skills that can transform them into relational dynamos.
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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
With more than seven million copies of 30-odd titles in print, preacher turned leadership guru Maxwell is a one-man publishing empire. His latest follows the proven format-a series of short, friendly sermons filled with plainspoken common sense. This time, Maxwell takes on interpersonal skills, saying, "All of life's successes come from initiating relationships with the right people and then strengthening those relationships by using good people skills." The book offers 25 chapter-based "People Principles" that explore how to prepare oneself for relationships, focus on others, build trust, invest in others and create win-win relationships. The quality of the content varies. Some chapters, like "The Confrontation Principle" with its six-step "road map for healthy confrontation," are concise, thoughtful and original. Others (particularly in the later sections, where the book starts to run out of steam), such as "The Partnership Principle," are more like motivational talks and offer few practical takeaways. Each principle is introduced with two to three pages featuring a familiar figure-Abraham Lincoln, Barbara Walters, Ben Franklin, Angelina Jolie, etc.-or a personal story from the author's life. Maxwell concludes each principle with a page of discussion questions, which should prove useful since the book doesn't lend itself to a cover-to-cover read and is probably best swallowed one principle at a time, with some reflection in between. Agent, Yates and Yates. (Jan. 14) Forecast: With a $1-million marketing budget, a 10-city tour and a contest to win a one-day "leadership makeover" from Maxwell and friends, Nelson is clearly preparing to win. Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
Soundview Executive Book Summaries
What does it take to win with people? Good relationships are the foundation for achievement. Relationships are more than just the icing on the cake in life: They are the cake - the very substance we need to live successful and fulfilling lives.
Many people fall into the trap of taking relationships for granted. That's not good because our ability to build and maintain healthy relationships is the single most important factor in how we get along in every area of life. Our people skills determine our potential success.

In this summary, renowned leadership expert and author John C. Maxwell describes how anyone can improve his or her relationship skills. With 25 "People Principles" that anyone can learn and use anywhere he or she might be, Maxwell shows how relationships can be created and strengthened for success in work and life.

Fortunately, Maxwell explains, anyone can learn to become a people person and succeed in the things that matter the most. Winning with People provides the tools needed to immediately improve existing relationships as well as cultivate strong, exciting and new ones. The skills used plus the relationships chosen equal success.

The Readiness Question: Are We Prepared for Relationships?
Not everyone has the skills to initiate, build and sustain good, healthy relationships. Many people grow up in dysfunctional households and never have positive relationships modeled for them. Some people are so focused on themselves and their needs that others might as well not even exist. Still others have been hurt so badly in the past that they see the whole world through the filter of their pain. Because of huge relational blind spots, they don't know themselves or how to relate to people in a healthy way. It takes relationally healthy people to build great relationships.

The Connection Question: Are We Willing to Focus on Others?
All human beings possess a desire to connect with other people. The need for connection is sometimes motivated by the desire for love, but it can just as easily be prompted by feelings of loneliness, the need for acceptance, the quest for fulfillment or the desire to achieve in business.

To fulfill our desire for relationships, we must stop thinking about ourselves and begin focusing on the people with whom we desire to build relationships. When you stop worrying so much about yourself and start looking at others and what they desire, you build a bridge to other people and you become the kind of person others want to be around.

The Trust Question: Can We Build Mutual Trust?
Philosopher and poet Ralph Waldo Emerson said, "The glory of friendship is not the outstretched hand, not the kindly smile, nor the joy of companionship; it is the spiritual inspiration that comes to one when you discover that someone else believes in you and is willing to trust you with a friendship."

Why do many personal and business relationships fall apart? The reasons for such breakdowns are many, but the cause that outweighs all others is broken trust.

The Investment Question: Are We Willing to Invest in Others?
You may build a beautiful house, but eventually it will crumble. You may develop a fine career, but one day it will be over. You may save a great sum of money, but you can't take it with you. You may be in superb health today, but in time it will decline. You may take pride in your accomplishments, but someone will surpass you.

Relationships are like anything else. The return you get depends on what you invest.

The Synergy Question: Can We Create a Win-Win Relationship?
Some relationships add value to both parties, and that is rewarding. When both parties enter into a relationship with an investment mind-set - after having connected and built trust with each other - a win-win relationship can result.

The wonderful thing about win-win relationships is that they can be forged in every area of life and in all kinds of relationships: between husbands and wives, parents and children, friends and neighbors, and bosses and employees. If both parties sustain a giving attitude and both are having their needs met, then the relationship can become something truly special. Copyright © 2005 Soundview Executive Book Summaries
—Soundview Reviews

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780785276364
  • Publisher: Gardners Books
  • Publication date: 6/30/2006

Meet the Author

John C. Maxwell, the #1 New York Times bestselling author, coach, and speaker who has sold 25 million books, is called America’s #1 leadership authority. In 2014, Maxwell received the Mother Teresa Prize for Global Peace and Leadership from the Luminary Leadership Network, and was named the worlds more influential leadership expert by Inc. and Business Insider. His organizations—The John Maxwell Company, The John Maxwell Team, and EQUIP—have trained more than 5 million leaders in 188 countries. For more information visit

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Read an Excerpt



Nelson Business

Copyright © 2004 John C. Maxwell
All right reserved.

ISBN: 978-1-4185-0828-9

Chapter One


The most useful person in the world today is the man or woman who knows how to get along with other people. Human relations is the most important science in living. —Stanley C. Allyn

I spent the first twenty-six years of my career as a pastor. I know of no other profession as demanding or intense when it comes to working with people. Individuals in ministry are called upon to lead, teach, coach, counsel, and comfort people at every age and stage of life, from the cradle to the grave. We're with them during many of the most joyful moments of their lives, such as the day they marry or christen a baby. And we're called upon during their darkest hours, such as when they try to save a marriage from a painful divorce, experience a child's tragic death, or look for answers as they face their own imminent deaths.

Over the years, I learned quickly to recognize people who were struggling relationally. They came in all ages, shapes, and sizes. Sometimes when I was counseling an unmarried person who just couldn't seem to get a relationship to work, he would lament about being alone and how much he wanted to get married. The sad thing was that instead of focusing on getting married, some people should be working on their emotional readiness—the basic ability to build a healthy relationship.

Let's face it. Not everyone has the skills to initiate, build, and sustain good, healthy relationships. Many people grow up in dysfunctional households and never have positive relationships modeled for them. Some people are so focused on themselves and their needs that others might as well not even exist. Still others have been hurt so badly in the past that they see the whole world through the filter of their pain. And because of huge relational blind spots, they don't know themselves or how to relate to people in a healthy way.

It takes relationally healthy people to build great relationships. It all starts there. I believe there are fundamental building blocks that make people ready for relationships. They answer the readiness question. The essential components are contained in the following five People Principles:

The Lens Principle: Who we are determines how we see others.

The Mirror Principle: The first person we must examine is ourselves.

The Pain Principle: Hurting people hurt people and are easily hurt by them.

The Hammer Principle: Never use a hammer to swat a fly off someone's head.

The Elevator Principle: We can lift people up or take people down in our relationships.

Anyone missing any of these essential components will not be prepared for relationships. And as a result, he will have recurring problems working with others.

If you or someone you know just can't seem to build the kind of positive relationships that all human beings desire, then the reason may be a readiness issue. By learning these five People Principles, you will prepare yourself for the creation of positive, healthy relationships.

The Lens Principle

* * *

Who We Are Determines How We See Others

I wouldn't want to belong to any club that would accept me as a member. —Groucho Marx


Have you ever started in a new job and had someone with experience in the organization tell you to watch out for this person or steer clear of that person? That's happened to me a number of times. When I took my first professional leadership position, my predecessor told me to watch out for two people: Audrey and Claude. "They'll cause you a lot of problems," I was told. So I went into my job expecting trouble from them.

First, I watched Audrey. She was a strong woman—and she had a strong personality. (It takes one to know one!) To my surprise, working with her ended up being a wonderful experience. She was confident and competent, and she got things done. We had a good working relationship, and she became a family friend. And Claude turned out to be an old farmer who loved the church. True, he was the greatest influencer in the organization. (More than thirty-five years later he still is.) But that didn't hurt my feelings. Why should I have expected a man twice my age who had been in that church all his life to follow me just because I had a leadership position and title? I made it my goal to work with Claude, and he and I got along well.

When I accepted a position at my second church, once again my predecessor warned me: "Watch out for Jim. He'll battle you on everything." So the first week I was there, I met with Jim. We had a difficult conversation, but Jim let me know that he loved God, loved the church, and was with me. He ended up being my number one guy during the years I was there. He went to battle all right—as my strongest supporter. I couldn't have asked for a better team member.

After I had accepted the position at my third church, the leader who preceded me offered to sit down with me and give me a heads-up on those who might cause me problems. As had been the case with the predecessors in the previous two positions, his heart was to help me. But I respectfully declined his offer. By then I'd been in leadership long enough to realize that his problem people wouldn't be mine—and vice versa. I would have no connection with some people he relied on, and others who left him cold would probably become key players for me. Why? Because who we are determines how we view others.

You Are Your Lens

A classic example of the impact of perspective occurred to me when I was in college. I was asked to be the best man in the wedding of my friend Ralph Beadle. I stayed with him the night before the ceremony, and early on the morning of his wedding day, Ralph wanted to go squirrel hunting. (I guess there's nothing like shooting small animals to calm a guy's nerves.) Ralph lent me one of his shotguns, and out we went into the woods. We walked around for a while, but I couldn't see any squirrels.

"Where are the squirrels?" I kept asking Ralph as I tramped around, making noise.

After I asked the question a half dozen times, Ralph finally said, "John, you stay on this side of the woods, and I'll go over to the other side."

Ralph hadn't been gone two minutes when I started to hear bam, bam. I still didn't see any squirrels, so I sat down and rested. I started to wish I had brought a book with me. I began to watch the chipmunks frolicking. Meanwhile, every now and then I'd hear gunshots. And I kept wondering, What is he shooting at?

A few minutes later Ralph strolled up. He had bagged his limit, and I had never even seen a squirrel.

"How come all the squirrels were on your side?" I asked.

Ralph just shook his head and laughed.

Who you are determines the way you see everything. You cannot separate your identity from your perspective. All that you are and every experience you've had color how you see things. It is your lens. Here's what I mean:

Who You Are Determines What You See

A Coloradan moved to Texas and built a house with a large picture window from which he could view hundreds of miles of rangeland. When asked how he enjoyed the view, he responded, "The only problem is that there's nothing to see." About the same time, a Texan moved to Colorado and built a house with a large picture window overlooking the Rockies. When asked how he liked it, he said, "The only problem with this place is that you can't see anything because all those mountains are in the way."

The story may be a little exaggerated, but it points out a truth just the same. What people see is influenced by who they are. People in the same room will look at the same things and see everything totally differently. That's always true with my wife, Margaret, and me. We'll be at a party chatting with people, and she'll come up and ask, "What was the guy in the blue sweater talking to you about?" I won't have a clue who she means. Margaret has great style and fashion sense. I don't. When I look at people, I don't see what they're wearing. It's all just clothes to me.

Each of us has his or her own bent, and that colors our view of everything. What is around us doesn't determine what we see. What is within us does.

Who You Are Determines How You See Others

A traveler nearing a great city asked an old man seated by the road, "What are the people like in this city?"

"What were they like where you came from?" the man asked.

"Horrible," the traveler reported. "Mean, untrustworthy, detestable in all respects."

"Ah," said the old man, "you will find them the same in the city ahead."

Scarcely had the first traveler gone on his way when another stopped to inquire about the people in the city before him. Again the old man asked about the people in the place the traveler has just left.

"They were fine people: honest, industrious, and generous to a fault," declared the second traveler. "I was sorry to leave."

The old man responded, "That's exactly how you'll find the people here."

The way people see others is a reflection of themselves.

If I am a trusting person, I will see others as trustworthy.

If I am a critical person, I will see others as critical.

If I am a caring person, I will see others as compassionate.

Your personality comes through when you talk about others and interact with them. Someone who doesn't know you would be able to tell a lot about who you are based on simple observation.

Who You Are Determines How You View Life

Here's an old story I used to tell in conferences. A grandfather was sleeping on the couch one day when his young grandchildren decided to play a trick on him. They went to the refrigerator and pulled out a bit of extra smelly Limburger cheese. They took the cheese and quietly rubbed a little into their grandpa's mustache. Then they hid around the corner to see what would happen.

After a few moments, the old man's nose began to twitch. Then his head started to toss. And finally Grandpa sat bolt upright on the couch with a sour look and said, "Something in here stinks!"

He got up, shuffled into the kitchen, took a deep sniff, and said, "It stinks in here too."

At that point, he decided to go outside to get a breath of fresh air, but when he took a deep breath, there was the foul smell again. "The whole world stinks!" he lamented.

The moral of the story? To a person with Limburger cheese under his nose, everything stinks! The good news for Grandpa is that he can remove the foul stuff from his mustache with soap and water, and things will seem sweet again. But a person who has foul stuff on the inside has a more difficult task. The only way to change how you view life is to change who you are on the inside.

We all have a personal frame of reference that consists of our attitudes, assumptions, and expectations concerning ourselves, other people, and life. These factors determine whether we're optimistic or pessimistic, cheerful or gloomy, trusting or suspicious, friendly or reserved, brave or timid. And they color not only how we see life, but also how we let people treat us. Eleanor Roosevelt said, "No one can make you feel inferior without your consent." Or to put it another way, in the words of psychologist and author Phil McGraw, "You teach people how to treat you." What you teach comes from how you see life. And how you see life comes from who you are.

A few years ago, I had the opportunity to teach leadership to the NFL's St. Louis Rams. The team invited me to attend one of their games afterward, and I was allowed to sit with the spouses of the coaches and players. I sat next to Kim Matsko, wife of associate head coach/offensive line coach of the St. Louis Rams, John Matsko. As we chatted, I asked her of all the cities where she had lived, what was her favorite? (She had lived in many states: Ohio, North Carolina, Arizona, California, New York, and Missouri.) Her response: "Where I am living right now."

"Oh, so you like St. Louis the best?" I said.

"No, I didn't say that. I like the place I'm currently living best," she answered. "It's a choice." What a great attitude! If you can maintain a perspective like that, you will always view life in a positive light.

Who You Are Determines What You Do

In Animals, Inc., Kenneth A. Tucker and Vandana Allman of the Gallup organization tell a story of barnyard characters that's meant to point out how companies mismanage their people. Believing that anyone can be trained to do anything, those in charge of the farm ask the workhorse to operate the computer. A shy sheep is encouraged to make sales calls. And here's my favorite: the scarecrow is sent into the henhouse to lay eggs. He works at it all day. Physically, he exhibits perfect form. With hens all around cranking out eggs, he tries and tries. But by the end of the day, exhausted, he has failed to produce a single egg.

You may be thinking, Of course, he doesn't produce an egg. It's pretty obvious that hens lay eggs, horses pull plows, and sheep produce wool. It's easy to see that natural ability affects what we do. But our thinking and our attitudes are as much parts of us as our talents and abilities. They also determine what we do. We cannot separate them, and if we expect results different from our makeup, we're in for disappointment.


Excerpted from WINNING WITH PEOPLE by JOHN C. MAXWELL Copyright © 2004 by John C. Maxwell. Excerpted by permission of Nelson Business. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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Table of Contents


The Readiness Question: Are We Prepared for Relationships?....................1
The Lens Principle: Who We Are Determines How We See Others....................4
The Mirror Principle: The First Person We Must Examine Is Ourselves....................15
The Pain Principle: Hurting People Hurt People and Are Easily Hurt by Them....................25
The Hammer Principle: Never Use a Hammer to Swat a Fly off Someone's Head....................35
The Elevator Principle: We Can Lift People Up or Take People Down in Our Relationships....................45
The Connection Question: Are We Willing to Focus on Others?....................57
The Big Picture Principle: The Entire Population of the World—with One Minor Exception—Is Composed of Others....................59
The Exchange Principle: Instead of Putting Others in Their Place, We Must Put Ourselves in Their Place....................68
The Learning Principle: Each Person We Meet Has the Potential to Teach Us Something....................78
The Charisma Principle: People Are Interested in the Person Who Is Interested in Them....................88
The Number 10 Principle: Believing the Best in People Usually Brings the Best Out of People....................97
The Confrontation Principle: Caring for People Should Precede Confronting People....................107
The Trust Question: Can We Build Mutual Trust?....................119
The Bedrock Principle: Trust Is the Foundation of Any Relationship....................121
The Situation Principle: Never Let the Situation Mean More Than the Relationship....................132
The Bob Principle: When Bob Has a Problem with Everyone, Bob Is Usually the Problem....................142
The Approachability Principle: Being at Ease with Ourselves Helps Others Be at Ease with Us....................152
The Foxhole Principle: When Preparing for Battle, Dig a Hole Big Enough for a Friend....................162
The Investment Question: Are We Willing to Invest in Others?....................174
The Gardening Principle: All Relationships Need Cultivation....................177
The 101 Percent Principle: Find the 1 Percent We Agree on and Give It 100 Percent of Our Effort....................188
The Patience Principle: The Journey with Others Is Slower Than the Journey Alone....................198
The Celebration Principle: The True Test of Relationships Is Not Only How Loyal We Are When Friends Fail, but How Thrilled We Are When They Succeed....................208
The High Road Principle: We Go to a Higher Level When We Treat Others Better Than They Treat Us....................217
The Synergy Question: Can We Create a Win-Win Relationship?....................228
The Boomerang Principle: When We Help Others, We Help Ourselves....................230
The Friendship Principle: All Things Being Equal, People Will Work with People They Like; All Things Not Being Equal, They Still Will....................239
The Partnership Principle: Working Together Increases the Odds of Winning Together....................248
The Satisfaction Principle: In Great Relationships, the Joy of Being Together Is Enough....................258
Final Review of the People Principles for Winning with People....................266
About the Author....................275
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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 14 )
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Sort by: Showing 1 – 16 of 14 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted May 1, 2005

    great people principles book

    I would have to say this book is the best book that I have read in discovering people principles. If you have challenges with people skills read this book. This book really helped me learn what works best for me to win with people.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 13, 2012

    Highly Recommended!!!

    John Maxwell is a phenomenal writer on leadership and this book is typical of the wisdom he shares. If you hold a leadership position or aspire to be a leader, you must become a John Maxwell fan. Once you read one, you will want to read them all.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 11, 2008

    Maxwell succeeds again

    After reading John Maxwell¿s book, Winning With People, I can confidently say he is a relationship genius. Maxwell understand the deep need in all people for healthy relationships and writes a book detailing how one can achieve a healthy relationship in every situation. His writing style is motivational and descriptive, and challenges the reader to analyze oneself. This book is aimed at all varieties of people. Whether you are a successful CEO or a stay-at-home mom, this book will have an influence in your relationships. Overall, I greatly enjoyed this book and was challenged by Maxwell to think about the way I handle my personal relationships.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 23, 2006

    An inspiring must read!

    For those who are starting down the path toward learning the art of making better relationships in business and/or their personal life, or want to get a well needed tune up, this is a must read. John Maxwell is very eloquent in weaving together the very complex issues of relationships into a very usable fabric. Yes, at times he states the obvious, but aren't those the things we most often trip up on.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 24, 2006

    Maxwell rephrases the rules for treating people right

    Author John C. Maxwell follows his solid 17 Indisputable Laws of Teamwork with this book, which provides 25 essential 'principles' for fostering interpersonal relationships. Maxwell uses poems, quotations and stories about such varied individuals as Benjamin Franklin, Martin Luther King Jr., Dale Carnegie, Barbara Walters, Pete Rose and Billy Martin to enliven his short chapters about the small, important steps that build better relationships. Unfortunately, the book seems slightly forced, stretching its theme to cover overlapping and somewhat arbitrary principles. Still, its broadly based, motivational stories make it spiritually uplifting. While this entry is not as compelling as Maxwell¿s work on leadership, we believe it will be very useful to those who want to build stronger friendships and aren¿t sure how to start.

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