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Reader’s Review, February 2013

By John D. Baker

Influence: Persuade Without Pushing and Gain Without Giving In

Mark Goulston and John Ullmen
258pp. New York: American Management Association, 2013
Hardcover (USA) $24.95

Mark Goulston is a widely known psychiatrist, writer, and consultant to a broad range of major corporations. Goulson has held the position of Clinical Assistant Professor of Medicine at the University of California Los Angeles’ highly regarded Neuropsychiatric Institute for over 20 years. He is the author of a wide range of books including Just Listen, a syndicated newspaper column, and a host of articles appearing in such publications as the Harvard Business Review. Readers may also have encountered Dr. Goulston’s work as a guest on many television programs.

Mark Goulston holds a B.A. from the University of California – Berkeley, and an M.D. degree from Boston University. He completed his residency in psychiatry at the University of California Los Angeles. In additional to all of his other credentials, Dr. Goulston knows negotiation well, having worked as an FBI/police hostage negotiation trainer.

John Ullmen, the co-author, is a well-published writer, an executive coach and consultant to a broad span of Fortune 500 corporations, and a lecturer at the University of California Los Angeles’ Anderson School of Management. Dr. Ullmen is an authority and frequent speaker on leadership, motivation and influence.

John Ullmen holds a B.A. from the US Air Force Academy, a Masters degree in Public Policy from Harvard University and a Ph.D. in Organizational Behavior from the UCLA Anderson School of Management.

In Real Influence, the authors argue that the traditional rules for persuading people are still in practice, but are outdated. Essentially, these old rules produced what the authors call “disconnected influence,” a situation in which parties ignored long-term relationship possibilities and used manipulation and artifice to win short-term positioning with others to achieve short-term goals.

Today, however, with increasing emphasis on long-term relationships and the internet network instant broadcast of information about interactions past and present, the old “disconnected influence” methods are not appropriate or effective strategies. Reputations are critical and a move to a new system is essential for success.

This new system that the authors’ term “connected influence” is the real influence that gives this work its title and provides the core of this book. Let us explore their contentions.

“Disconnected influence,” the old system, is still taught in business schools, the authors assert. Here, the emphasis is on “getting people to do what you want” (p. p. 8).

In this system the other party is viewed as a target and referred to as either an adversary or an ally. Adversaries are pulled and pushed to comply and accomplish one side’s goals. Relationships are short-term. It is a win-lose world and this sort of “influence” is as ephemeral as the deals and relationships it fosters.

The new “connected influence” system, on-the-other-hand, is designed for a world of potential collaborators, a true effort at common understandings between the parties, long-term relationships, and win-win agreements. It is a world of real influence and its opportunities.

The fundamental premise and its promise are hardly new, but its practice is hardly common also. How to do it, of course, is the key. That answer is the base of the rest of this book.

From this premise, the authors explore the methods that need to be followed in order to accomplish this goal of influencing others. They begin first with the fact that effective human interaction requires that each of us learn to see beyond our own position, our facts, and our intentions. In working with others, the authors assert, we must learn to see “…their positions, their facts, and their intentions clearly” (p. 11).

From here, the authors use well-chosen illustrative stories and clear explanations to explore how to deal with several traps that are hard-wired in each of us and disconnect persons from one another, enhance our skills to learn what they term “connective listening,” and specific actions we can use not only to signal, but to build real long-term relationships.

Real influence and negotiation success are clearly and necessarily related. This is a volume that promises and delivers the methods on how to do them better.

The book includes a well-constructed and thorough Index.


John D. Baker, Ph.D.

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The Negotiator Magazine  (February, 2013) Copyright © 2013 The Negotiator Magazine