Compelling people: The Hidden Qualities That Make Us Influential exists in the rarefied air of self-help books that might actually help you. Most books of these type contain a thesis statement that you understand within the first 40 pages. The next X number of pages are the author(s) filling out their quota for his or her publisher. In a way, this is the case for Compelling People, wherein John Neffinger and Matthew Kohut articulate a simple framework for understanding people and interactions between people. The authors contend that people are governed by two qualities they term “strength” and “warmth”. Strength being a person’s ability to accomplish tasks and warmth being a person’s ability to connect with others.
Instead of padding the rest of the book out or boring this reader to tears, Neffinger & Kohut manage to build and engage on this concept. Compelling people takes you through many common social interactions and explains what is going on beneath the surface. Whether it is interviewing for a job, pursuing a love interest, or even rearing children, Compelling People will give you a context for understanding these universal and daunting experiences.
This is not to say that this book is some type of parlor trick that will change your life in an instant or make you insanely wealthy upon reading it. It is merely a tool for better understanding people and hopefully yourself. The lessons of the book contain many truths that you will likely see happening in your daily life. These lessons are punctuated with interesting studies, examples using public figures, and anecdotes from the author’s personal coaching sessions. As someone who tries to read to learn and grow, I can often judge a book by how often I reach for the highlight features on my e-Reader. Compelling people is a book where I highlighted early and often, which I think is the highest compliment for a book such as this.