Influence: Mastering Life's Most Powerful Skill

Rated 5 out of 5 by from Great tips- Great Course! I enjoyed this course so much- I am astonished to read some of the negative reviews. I learned some very helpful tips for negotiating and making better sales. Professor Brown is also a very engaging speaker. I hope he will teach more classes for The Great Courses Plus!
Date published: 2021-04-07
Rated 5 out of 5 by from A Useful Course for Everyone I had never taken a course like this and did not really have any preconceived expectations one way or the other. I was pleasantly surprised by the quality of both the content and delivery by Professor Brown, and found many of the lectures very useful in everyday life, including things like buying a car, resolving a conflict, or negotiating a labor settlement. Regardless of your job or position within an organization, I think anyone who takes this course will discover useful nuggets of information, and approaches to problem solving, that will be rewarding to them.
Date published: 2020-09-15
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Learned a lot! I am in software consulting services, and I purchased this course to help grow my collaboration and consulting skills at work, and it was a slow start, and easy to set aside. But it's merely a slow burn (especially the video) -- I came back to it later (audio only) and every session built sensibly on the the prior sessions, and now I feel the course is very well designed. Great information, and the instructor does an amazing job modulating their voice to deliver the information in an interesting way. I would recommend to anyone with a similar interest, and am going to share with many of my colleagues because I think it provides a great mental model for what is at work when we collaborate with others and what decisions lead to positive outcomes.
Date published: 2020-08-24
Rated 1 out of 5 by from this is the worst I have bought over 100 courses from your company. This is the worst. waste of time totally. drop this course.
Date published: 2020-07-19
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Clear review of components of influence I like the repeated return to the thesis of the four perspectives on influence.
Date published: 2020-04-23
Rated 1 out of 5 by from Not impressed I am a regular with Great Courses as I read them during my commutes. Very few of the courses have disappointed me, but I was not impressed with this series of CDs and stopped listening after disk 2. Not only is the voice and cadence of the instructor annoying, but much of what Dr. Brown says is only common sense and well below the level of depth I would have expected from this course. He does a lot of quoting from other writers and studies - I would have preferred to have heard more of his own ideas. In disk 2 he includes both President Trump and Castro in his section on narcissism under the evil triad. Whatever one thinks of current politics, these CDs are not the place for personal views. People of all political persuasions buy Great Courses CDs and I can certainly point out some individuals on the other political side who suffer from narcissism if he needs help in that regard. In case Dr. Brown is not aware, there are many other famous individuals who put their names on buildings, including on university campuses and in public spaces. Quite frankly, I could care less whether or not an individual has his name on a building if that is where I want to eat, shop, or listen to a concert.
Date published: 2019-05-25
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Excellent Course. Recently finished this fine course. The course is very well organized and very analytical. The presenter enumerates many concepts which I vaguely knew; but, not analytically. By breaking down the factors effecting influence it is now possible for me to better influence otheres; and, to know better who is attempting to influence me and how. I strongly recommend this course to anyone who intereacts with people including family, supervisors and subordinates.
Date published: 2019-03-10
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Mastering Life's Most Powerful Skill I went through this course and found tips that I should have been feed as a child! I really liked the whole process.
Date published: 2019-03-06
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Influence: Mastering Life's Most Powerful Skill
Course Trailer
A Model for Successful Influence
1: A Model for Successful Influence

To strengthen your influential powers, you first have to grasp what makes an influence attempt successful. Professor Brown introduces you to several concepts you'll return to throughout the lectures, including the possible outcomes of persuasive efforts (conflict, compliance, commitment) and the factors that determine these outcomes (agent, target, tactics, context).

32 min
Characteristics of Influential Agents
2: Characteristics of Influential Agents

What is it about someone that makes him or her so persuasive? Take a closer look at agents: those people doing the influencing. You'll learn what characteristics an influential agent has (including beauty, trustworthiness, and charisma) and you'll see how these characteristics play out in a range of real-world situations.

30 min
The Dark Side of Influence
3: The Dark Side of Influence

Some people use the tools of influence to cheat others. Here, delve into what researchers call the "dark triad" of personality characteristics that lead influential people to exploit others: Machiavellianism, narcissism, and psychopathy. Not only will you understand their motivations-you'll be able to recognize them before they exploit you.

32 min
Characteristics of Suggestible Targets
4: Characteristics of Suggestible Targets

In this lecture, discover what makes some targets more susceptible to influence. Who among us is more likely to be tricked or convinced? What roles do suggestibility, motivation, and even age play in how good of a target we can be? And what can you do to be less susceptible?

30 min
Influence Tactics-Hard and Soft
5: Influence Tactics-Hard and Soft

Turn to two general tactical methods involved in influencing others, each with its own pros and cons. The first: soft tactics, such as persuading with emotion and offering something in exchange. The second (and more threatening): hard tactics such as making a reference to formal authority or building a coalition.

29 min
How to Make the Most of Soft Tactics
6: How to Make the Most of Soft Tactics

Soft tactics don't always work. Find out why by looking at two factors that affect how tactics work: the agent's power base and political skill. By the end of this illuminating lecture, you'll also come away with several takeaways that can increase the success rate of your soft influence tactics.

28 min
How Context Shapes Influence
7: How Context Shapes Influence

Explore how contextual cues can shape your attempts to influence others. You'll focus on three: scarcity, authority, and social proof-all of which can occur naturally or as part of an agent's tactic for success. You'll also learn how to use this deeper awareness of context to your advantage.

32 min
Practicing Impression Management
8: Practicing Impression Management

Discover how to shape the perception others have of you and strengthen your chances of influencing them in the future. Professor Brown guides you through several impression management tactics involving self-promotion and ingratiation, and reveals the practical lessons to be learned from several individuals who've successfully managed their personal "brand."

31 min
Selling and Being Sold
9: Selling and Being Sold

Sales and service situations are all too frequent in our lives. What characteristics make someone a fantastic salesperson? How can you apply the concepts of influence to get a better experience-and deals-in your sales encounters? For answers, your case study is a purchase many of us find stressful: buying a car.

30 min
Delivering Effective Speeches
10: Delivering Effective Speeches

Who doesn't want to be less nervous and more persuasive when speaking in front of groups? Professor Brown shows you how to do this by drawing on insights from the ancient world (through the classical rhetoricians Aristotle and CIcero) and the modern world (with effective tips from author Dale Carnegie).

32 min
Developing Negotiation Skills
11: Developing Negotiation Skills

Head to the negotiating table and master the art of making a successful deal. Here, you'll examine two core strategies helpful for maneuvering delicate negotiation settings: position-based strategies (which focus on a concrete position to obtain) and principle-based strategies (which seek mutually beneficial solutions through underlying interests).

32 min
Becoming a Transformational Leader
12: Becoming a Transformational Leader

Conclude this lecture series with a fascinating discussion of leaders and effective leadership. By studying the leadership qualities of people such as Franklin Delano Roosevelt, Nelson Mandela, and Interface, Inc. CEO Ray Anderson, you'll come away with much to inspire you the next time you assume a leadership role.

34 min
Kenneth G. Brown

By mastering the underlying mechanisms of influence, you are better prepared to be a transformative force-to change things that happen in your homes, your businesses, and your communities.


Michigan State University


Michigan State University

About Kenneth G. Brown

Dr. Kenneth G. Brown is Professor of Management and Organizations and Henry B. Tippie Research Fellow in the Henry B. Tippie College of Business at The University of Iowa. He also serves as Professor of Educational Policy and Leadership Studies in the College of Education and is certified as a Senior Professional in Human Resources. Professor Brown earned his M.A. and Ph.D. in Industrial and Organizational Psychology at Michigan State University. An expert on everyday management, Professor Brown has been recognized repeatedly for his work. He was twice voted as the Student’s Choice for Faculty Excellence in the Tippie College and gave the university’s Last Lecture in 2011. He also won The University of Iowa’s highest teaching honor, the President and Provost Award for Teaching Excellence. For his scholarly work, Professor Brown has received annual research awards from the American Society for Training and Development and the Society for Human Resource Management. Professor Brown is coauthor of Human Resource Management: Linking Strategy to Practice. He has served on numerous national committees, including an elected term on the Executive Committee of the Human Resources Division of the Academy of Management. He is editor-in-chief of the premier business educational journal, Academy of Management Learning & Education.

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