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Compelling People: The Hidden Qualities That Make Us Influential
     

Compelling People: The Hidden Qualities That Make Us Influential

4.0 1
by John Neffinger, Matthew Kohut
 

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How People Judge You—And How To Come Out Looking Good

Required Reading at Harvard Business School

Everyone wants to know how to be more influential. But most of us don’t really think we can have the kind of magnetism or charisma that we associate with someone like Bill Clinton or Oprah Winfrey unless it comes naturally.  

Now, in

Overview

How People Judge You—And How To Come Out Looking Good

Required Reading at Harvard Business School

Everyone wants to know how to be more influential. But most of us don’t really think we can have the kind of magnetism or charisma that we associate with someone like Bill Clinton or Oprah Winfrey unless it comes naturally.  

Now, in Compelling People, which is already being taught at Harvard and Columbia Business Schools, John Neffinger and Matthew Kohut show that this isn’t something we have to be born with—it’s something we can learn. Expanding on the themes in their co-authored Harvard Business Review cover story “Connect, Then Lead,” they trace the path to influence through a balance of strength (the root of respect) and warmth (the root of affection). Each seems simple, but only a few of us figure out the tricky task of projecting both at once. The ability to master this dynamic is so rare that we celebrate and elevate those people who have managed to do it. 

Drawing on cutting-edge social science research as well as their own work with Fortune 500 executives, members of Congress, TED speakers, and Nobel Prize winners, Neffinger and Kohut reveal:

 

  • The common thread connecting Machiavelli and Martin Luther King
  • The secret technique behind the success of Bill Clinton, Ann Richards and Denzel Washington—one that you can use today
  • How looks affect our career prospects
  • The single best strategy for getting someone to agree with you
Compelling People explains how we size each other up—and how we can learn to win the admiration, respect, and affection we desire.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
When people look at us, what are they seeing? Most of us don’t realize what signals we’re sending, or how, and on what, people are judging us. Neffinger and Kohut, communications strategists and presentation coaches who met writing speeches and editing articles for Harvard faculty, posit that initial character judgments are based on two traits: strength and warmth. As they write, “We live most fully when we cultivate both in our lives, when we balance a high degree of individual capability with an unflagging regard for the needs and interests of others.” Strength is the Ayn Randian show of will and power, and warmth is the Beatles-esque emanation of love and charm. The trick is in figuring out when to project which, and in what balance. The authors address the elements that affect how we make judgments, including gender, age, race, sexual orientation, posture and body language, style, leadership qualities, and workplace behavior. While their points are arguably true, the meandering, storytelling tone (it’s notable that there’s an epilogue, rather than a conclusion) doesn’t do their theory any favors. They’ve stretched an article’s worth of material over a full book. Agent: Melissa Flashman, Trident Media. (Aug.)
Kirkus Reviews
The principals of a communications firm reveal the strategies they use to coach corporate and political clients. Neffinger and Kohut aim to help people become aware of the ways that they communicate nonverbally, through tone of voice and posture, and improve their ability to read the body language of others. There is no inherent contradiction in simultaneously projecting warmth and strength, they argue. Compelling individuals such as Oprah Winfrey, Bill Clinton and the Dalai Lama project an air of knowing what they are doing and having other peoples' best interests at heart; as a result, "we trust them and find them persuasive." Refreshingly, the authors recognize these as fundamental issues of character and emphatically reject any attempt to fake them. They do not advocate behavior modification and gimmicks to foster self-affirmation. Instead, they look to models such as Martin Luther King to reinforce their message, quoting his 1967 comment: "One of the great problems of history is that the concepts of love and power have usually been contrasted as opposites…power without love is reckless and abusive...love without power is sentimental and anemic." By consciously maintaining "a level brow, a focused gaze and a low vocal pitch," leaning in toward a person or maintaining distance, we give substance to the image we hope to project. That said, the authors warn that nonverbal cues cannot compensate for deceitful aims. On the other hand, adopting good posture and greeting the day with a smile can not only evoke a positive response in others, but also elevate the mood of the smiler. This contention, like others in this well-researched book, is backed up by citations from psychologists and other authorities. An attractive, nuanced addition to the self-help shelf.
From the Publisher
“Not only does this book tell you why people react to you as they do, it also provides specific suggestions for managing your image.  This book is a must-read for all leaders who want to maximize their influence on others.”
—Art Markman, University of Texas Professor and author of Smart Thinking and Habits of Leadership
 
“This is not just another pop-psych book: it's the first book to capture and share the insights from all the recent groundbreaking research on how we judge and persuade each other. And it translates that into simple, practical terms anyone can use to build more effective relationships at the office or at home. I'm glad they wrote it so I didn't have to.”
—Amy Cuddy, Harvard Business School Associate Professor
 
“Human psychology is never more fascinating than in this book. It is both serious and engaging. Kohut and Neffinger will help you to lead — and succeed — in everything from public speaking to love. This is a wonderful read.”
—Joseph S. Nye, Jr., Harvard University Professor and author of The Powers to Lead
 
“Neffinger and Kohut will blow your mind with their unified theory of everything that matters. Compelling People goes deep with an idea that will have you reexamining your instincts and opinions about everyone from co-workers and dates to politicians and celebrities.”
—Amy Argetsinger, Washington Post "Reliable Source" Columnist
 
“Thanks to John Neffinger and Matt Kohut, I now have a much greater understanding of how to better influence and connect with all the people I encounter every day. Compelling People is a fascinating, beguiling read with the potential to change your life.”
—Lynne Olson, author of Those Angry Days and Citizens of London
 
“Neffinger and Kohut brilliantly illuminate how successful people negotiate possibilities and pitfalls to find success and avoid failure.”
—Liz Coleman, Bennington College President
 
“Compelling People, offers a wealth of practical approaches for understanding and improving how each of us presents ourselves to the world.”
—Cheryl Strauss Einhorn, Columbia Business School Adjunct Professor

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781594631016
Publisher:
Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date:
08/15/2013
Pages:
304
Product dimensions:
6.40(w) x 9.14(h) x 1.25(d)
Age Range:
18 Years

What People are Saying About This

From the Publisher
“Not only does this book tell you why people react to you as they do, it also provides specific suggestions for managing your image.  This book is a must-read for all leaders who want to maximize their influence on others.”
—Art Markman, University of Texas Professor and author of Smart Thinking and Habits of Leadership
 
“This is not just another pop-psych book: it's the first book to capture and share the insights from all the recent groundbreaking research on how we judge and persuade each other. And it translates that into simple, practical terms anyone can use to build more effective relationships at the office or at home. I'm glad they wrote it so I didn't have to.”
—Amy Cuddy, Harvard Business School Associate Professor
 
“Human psychology is never more fascinating than in this book. It is both serious and engaging. Kohut and Neffinger will help you to lead — and succeed — in everything from public speaking to love. This is a wonderful read.”
—Joseph S. Nye, Jr., Harvard University Professor and author of The Powers to Lead
 
“Neffinger and Kohut will blow your mind with their unified theory of everything that matters. Compelling People goes deep with an idea that will have you reexamining your instincts and opinions about everyone from co-workers and dates to politicians and celebrities.”
—Amy Argetsinger, Washington Post "Reliable Source" Columnist
 
“Thanks to John Neffinger and Matt Kohut, I now have a much greater understanding of how to better influence and connect with all the people I encounter every day. Compelling People is a fascinating, beguiling read with the potential to change your life.”
—Lynne Olson, author of Those Angry Days and Citizens of London
 
“Neffinger and Kohut brilliantly illuminate how successful people negotiate possibilities and pitfalls to find success and avoid failure.”
—Liz Coleman, Bennington College President
 
“Compelling People, offers a wealth of practical approaches for understanding and improving how each of us presents ourselves to the world.”
—Cheryl Strauss Einhorn, Columbia Business School Adjunct Professor

Meet the Author


John Neffinger and Matthew Kohut are partners in KNP Communications, a firm specializing in presentation coaching and communications strategy for corporate and political clients. They also lecture regularly at Harvard Business School, Columbia Business School, MIT, Bennington College, and the Naval War College.

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Compelling People: The Hidden Qualities That Make Us Influential 4.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 2 reviews.
jmcgarry More than 1 year ago
I received a free copy of this book in exchange for this review. I struggle with the issues in this book. The authors talk about strength and warmth as 2 competing things everyone needs to master. The book describes what they mean by strength and warmth, then goes into detailed examples of how these work in real life. We all have elements of each. The trick is to balance them out. Too much strength without warmth can leave people behind, while too much warmth without strength can leave people vulnerable. One area the authors discuss is public speaking, and how it can be difficult to practice. One thing they didn't mention was Toastmasters, an organization that allows people to practice public speaking in a controlled environment. I realize now why this book is required reading at Harvard. They also mention the 1988 presidential debate where Michael Dukakis answered a question about his wife's rape and murder as though he'd been asked the time of day. The problem isn't reading about this, the problem is putting this into practice. That's the part I struggle with. Overall, a good book.
CENY More than 1 year ago
This book is one in a million; it tells you how different aspects of how you come across are viewed by others, and it tells you what to do to come across differently. It also gives the consequences of coming across one way or the other. It's a must-read for anyone who works, although it also covers dating, parenting, etc. The authors are Democratic activists, which would have been nice to know (as perhaps Republicans view one's ideal presence differently).