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Compelling People: The Hidden Qualities That Make Us Influential Hardcover – August 15, 2013

4.1 out of 5 stars 79 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews


“A must-read.”
—Art Markman, PhD, author of Smart Thinking
“Kohut and Neffinger will help you to lead—and succeed—in everything from public speaking to love.”
—Joseph S. Nye, Jr., PhD, author of The Powers to Lead
“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 home.” 
—Amy Cuddy, PhD, Harvard Business School

About 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.

Product Details

  • Hardcover: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Avery (August 15, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1594631018
  • ISBN-13: 978-1594631016
  • Product Dimensions: 6.3 x 1.2 x 9.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15.2 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (79 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #476,461 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Every once in a while, a book comes along that has the power to really change the way I see the world and move in it. In 2012, it was The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business by Charles Duhigg. The year before, it was Thinking, Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman. Compelling People: The Hidden Qualities That Make Us Influential is that kind of book.

The central premise of the book is that in any encounter, people base how they feel about you on how you project strength and warmth. Once you become aware of what your unconscious strength and warmth signals are, you can learn to modulate them to connect better with people, influence them, and just be a more effective all-around human being. From the worlds of psychology, neuroscience, acting, political science, they've compiled some of the best practices for presenting your best self to the world.

Some things I like about this book:

1) Neffinger and Kohut are seasoned professionals who have coached dozens of world-renowned politicians, businessmen, military leaders and speakers. When they dispense a tip -- like "hold the imaginary ball when you're speaking" -- it's a proven tip that insiders at the top of their game use. I felt like I was getting their probably very expensive one-on-one coaching at a huge discount.

2) The authors draw upon the scientific literature to back up their points - no speculation here.
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Format: Hardcover
Although I work in an artistic field, the relationship that I have with clients is everything. I have tried to read dozens of books on the topic and 99% of these nearly put me to sleep. If you're looking for a bright, informative, thoughtful book about how to tweak small (and large) aspects of your personal presence in order for the world to see you in the light in which you want to be seen then read this book. My colleagues and clients have seen a noticeable difference in my interactions since I came across Compelling People. And the nice part is that no one can exactly pin point what it is that I have changed. I've been asked if I had just been to a spa or if I am dating someone new, all people really know is that I give off a different vibe. A refreshed and inspired vibe. Even my friends seem to enjoy my company and conversation skills more. As a shy person since birth, employing these tips and tricks has helped me connect more effectively and carry myself with poise. And to the person who thought these glowing reviews were fake, this is no fake review. This is a real manual for real people who may be very bright but unfortunately do not come by people skills naturally. I believe even the 'people persons' can get a lot out of this one.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I began reading this book because of the title: as a supervisor of "creative types" who often feel uncomfortable presenting their ideas to others, I thought I might get some insight into how to help them learn to present themselves and their ideas more naturally and compellingly. Happily, the book provided exactly the information I was looking for in that regard: it offers a virtual template for improvement. What surprised me was how applicable I found the information to myself as well. I thought I already presented well in business situations--both formal and informal--but the book opened my eyes to nuances that have improved my performance and interactions. That knowledge has made me more confident, too; again, surprising, because I already was quite confident.

So that's a long way of saying I found the content valuable. The bonus was how well it's written: the authors manage to convey a lot of practical ideas in an engaging, inviting way. As a result, the book is an easy, enjoyable read while being quite informative--a nice plus for a business book.
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Format: Hardcover
John Neffinger and Matthew Kohut are convinced that certain people possess both strength and warmth and this combination helps to explain why they are so highly admired and why they have so much influence. Others are attracted to them because they have the ability and determination to get things done but also because they are loving, caring, and empathic. "For our purposes, warmth is what people feel when they recognize they share interests and concerns. It is a sense of being on the same team. If strength is about whether someone can carry out their intentions, warmth is about whether you will be happy with the result. When people project warmth, we like them." We care about them because they care about us.

Readers will appreciate Neffinger and Kohut's use of primary and secondary sources that broaden and deepen the context, the frame-of-reference, for they key ideas. For example, research by psychologists Martin Seligman and Christopher Peterson on how different cultural traditions around the world define character. They found that there are six moral virtues at the core of all of them, six forms of strength and the others of warmth: courage, temperance, wisdom, justice, humanity, and transcendence. (Page 23) Annotated "Notes" are provided on Pages 257-275. These are among the dozens of passages of special interest and value to me, also listed to indicate the scope of Neffinger and Kohut's coverage.

o Strength vs.
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