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Influence: Mastering Life's Most Powerful Skill

Gain valuable knowledge that you can apply to your career or home life with this course that explains the psychology behind how and why people can be influenced.
Influence: Mastering Life's Most Powerful Skill is rated 3.9 out of 5 by 87.
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Rated 5 out of 5 by from Liked the graphics The graphics and the outside quotes made all the difference from making it seem less a monologue. His delivery was good. To the critiques that he mentioned Donald trump in the section on narcissism, the course was made long before Trump was even a candidate.
Date published: 2022-12-06
Rated 3 out of 5 by from A Self-Help Course Although this course cites a lot of academic research, basically, it is a short (12 lectures) “self-help” course. Most of the course is devoted to an analysis of what Dr. Brown identifies as the four major elements of influence: Agent (the person doing the influencing), Target (the person being influenced), Tactics (what the agent says or does), and Context (the circumstances that shape the interaction between the agent and the target). The thrust of the course is how to use those four elements to ethically influence someone else (or to recognize when someone else is trying to influence you). The first seven lectures discuss this Agent/Target/Tactics/Context model. There is one lecture that discusses impression management, which Dr. Brown distinguishes from influence. Finally, Dr. Brown closes with lectures that show how to apply influence in four specific situations: selling, speaking, negotiating, and leading. Those familiar with communication model by Claude Shannon may see a similarity to the elements in that discipline. “Agent” is similar to sender/encoder. “Target” is similar to decoder/receiver. “Tactics” is similar to channel. “Context” is similar to noise. Dr. Brown is a pleasant lecturer. The course guide is in bullet format as opposed to paragraph (narrative) format. It includes a few graphics, none of which contributes significantly to the content. Each lecture does include a real-world scenario that is useful for reviewing and reinforcing the material from that lecture. There is an extensive bibliography with a short description of why each referenced work is useful. The course guide is not necessary for following the lectures. I used the video version. The visual aids added little. One could listen to the lectures in audio-only mode (such as while jogging or driving a car) with little or no loss of content. The course was published in 2013.
Date published: 2022-09-08
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Excellent overview I work in communication and public relations, and I must admit I would have liked such a course during college. It is relatively introductory, but it points to many exciting perspectives to deepen on your own (the proposed reading list in the guidebook is thorough and varied). I generally appreciated the professor's sober but engaging energy.
Date published: 2021-06-27
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
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Whether you realize it or not, you're constantly surrounded by people and groups trying to influence the way you think, act, and feel. But you don't have to let influence just happen to you. You can actively take charge of your decisions-and your life-by grasping the science behind how influence works and by strengthening your own skills at influence and persuasion. In Influence: Mastering Life's Most Powerful Skill, discover everything you need to tap into the hidden powers of influence and persuasion-and use them to enhance your personal and professional life in ways you never thought possible. Delivered by award-winning Professor Kenneth G. Brown of The University of Iowa, these 12 lectures will teach you in clear and accessible language how and why influence works and how to harness the power of influence at home, at work, in your social life, and anywhere else you may need it.


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
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.

By This Professor

Influence: Mastering Life's Most Powerful Skill
Influence: Mastering Life's Most Powerful Skill


A Model for Successful Influence

01: 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

02: 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

03: 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

04: 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

05: 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

06: 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

07: 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

08: 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

09: 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