What Can We Learn from the Most Popular Course at Stanford’s Business School?

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29 Jun What Can We Learn from the Most Popular Course at Stanford’s Business School?

Today, while scrolling through Twitter, I came across an article discussing the dynamics of what is touted as the most popular class at Stanford University’s Graduate School of Business (GSB). The part which may surprise you, is that the curriculum for this class is centred around communication and relationships.

Welcome to “Organizational Behavior 374: Interpersonal Dynamics”, a course which takes students through tests of relationship-building, communication, self-awareness, and giving and receiving honest, constructive feedback.

As Inc.com explains, “The focus of this course is to increase one’s competencies in building more effective relationships. Learning is primarily through feedback from other group members. This course is very involving and, at times, can be quite emotional.”

Some people might read this and think, “How can this be considered a graduate business course? How is this helping to shape the minds of our up-and-coming generation of business leaders?”

Well, to answer your question, this course is right on track. In fact, it has apparently become a “rite of passage” for students looking to transition into successful leadership positions within the business world.

Each week, students enrolled in the course will participate in group exercises, free-form discussions, constructive and real-time feedback exercises, spirited debates and communication challenges all within a safe, supportive classroom environment.

The course challenges its’ students to answer the questions: How can I communicate more effectively? How do I honestly tell someone what I think of them in a constructive manner? How do others perceive me? How do I present myself?

Why are these exercises so incredibly vital to the success of our future business leaders? Because, quite frankly, the interpersonal skills instilled throughout the syllabus of this course are often not inherently understood and involve situations and interactions that many people (regardless of textbook intelligence) may find incredibly challenging.

When it comes to modern-day business strategy, whether you assume a leadership role, need to work productively with co-workers and clients or are working to better understand your customer and brand audience, these skills will play a definitive role in your success.

In fact, when it comes to the professional market, the ability to communicate effectively, engage and work with others productively, turn a non-believer into a believer, give an engaging presentation and think on your feet will always set you apart from the crowd.

After all; emails, phone calls, presentations, reports, networking, meetings, managing, and providing and receiving constructive criticism all have one thing in common. They all require careful, effective communication and engagement.

Additionally, this course instills the importance of receiving feedback and internalizing criticisms and outside opinion in a way which is constructive and measurable.

After all, it is often in our nature to, at times, talk out of turn or readily project our opinions onto others. Yet, it is an extremely valuable and necessary skill to develop a habit of pro-active listening.

If you can make a point of being an active listener who considers and digests information before you respond, you will inherently treat conversations as a constantly evolving learning practice. It is this kind of behaviour that cultivates great business leaders and professional relationships.

It is also education trends like these that help to shed light on the growing importance of communication and relationship-building within the current market.

From a marketing standpoint, effective communication is more important than ever. To market your brand you have to effectively pinpoint and listen to your audience and then use that information to build relationships with your clients by providing consistent value.

You can no longer simply bombard your audience with your brand messaging and expect them to bite… because advertisement has transformed and our audience has the right to be picky. As David Beebe said, “Content Marketing is like a first date. If all you do is talk about yourself, there won’t be a second date.”

Instead, we need to predict, understand, react and constantly engage with our audience. We also have to readily accept and internalize real-time feedback and apply it constructively to make our brand better.

With that said, it’s no surprise to witness one of the top business schools in the U.S. place an advanced, educational focus on these effective communication skills, as they are a topic of conversation that will only get louder as time goes on.

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