“Give honest and sincere appreciation.” Carnegie’s second principle is easier to accept than his first. It does, however, make you think of that line, “Sincerity is everything, once you can fake that you have it made.”
Actually, a lot of the criticism against Carnegie is that his advice seems kind of fake. Intentional sincerity, as opposed to spontaneous sincerity, feels inauthentic to a lot of folks. I get that. I used to feel that giving away too many compliments would drain them of their impact. That being too complimentary, would make me a sycophant or a pushover.
Side note: I’d like to add that offering sincere appreciation is an opportunity to communicate an understanding of the other person’s goals. There is a risk in giving appreciation that doesn’t align with someone’s goals. For example, complementing a senior executive on a remedial skill (I.e. Writing a memo, managing an event), or something beyond their control (I.e. Praising girls for being pretty), can come across as condescending and somewhat douchey. Such tonedeaf praise communicates a possible lack of care and understanding. This apparent contradictory advice, may freak out folks who lack empathy. It can feel like “they can’t win” and they revert to their stoic default settings. To those folks I remind them that this is a practice and to keep working at it.