Connect

I had known about Stanford Business School’s Interpersonal Dynamics course for years. So, when I heard about Connected, I dashed out and bought it so that I could learn more about the course that is universally known as touchy feely–even to David Bradford and Carole Robin who taught it for decades. During that time, it became one of the most popular courses at one of America’s top business schools and for good reason. It took students beyond the dollars and cents of entrepreneurship and helped them deal with the human side of leadership.

Connect takes what they did in their classrooms replete with T-Groups and presents it in a way that we peacebuilders could and should pay attention to. Readers who have been in the conflict resolution and mediation spaces as long as I have won’t find many new ideas. Nonetheless, the book is filled with insights about self-awareness and dealing with the conflicts that come with connecting with other humans in any setting that bear rethinking even by wizened professionals like me if for no other reason than the fact that Bradford and Robin use terminology that i found useful and helpful, four of which stand out.

  •  Life presents us with AFOGs all the tine (a Fucking Opportunity for Growth). In good, connected relationships
  • Doing so requires getting out of our comfort zone. However, as practical business school professors that they are, they don’t talk about taking absurd risks but develop the idea of the 15 percent rule in which we don’t venture too far (they don’t fully specify what the 15 percent entails) from our comfort zone–just far enough to challenge ourselves and learn something important along the way
  • Rather than trying to solve other people’s problems for them, we should, in their terms, stay on our side of the net and focus primarily on what we bring to and can change about a relationship
  • Perhaps most importantly of all, they stress the importance of our being open to taking hte first step whenever a relationship is threatened

Together, these and the other tools they have taught about for more than seventy years combined, have helped many of their students develop what they call exceptional relationships at work and in the rest of their lives.

They focus on interpersonal relationships at work and beyond. Still, this is a book that all of us who are interested in larger-scale social problem have to read.