Book Review: “Compelling People: The Hidden Qualities That Make Us Influential” by John Neffinger and Matthew Kohut

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Scott Drotar Compelling PeopleIt’s that time again. This week’s addition to the “Scott Drotar Literary Review” is “Compelling People: The Hidden Qualities That Make Us Influential” by John Neffinger and Matthew Kohut. Amazon recommended this book to me after I finished “The Tell,” which I reviewed a couple weeks ago. Since it was rated highly, I decided to give it a chance.

“Compelling People” focuses on the qualities that people look for when assessing one another. Their premise is that this process boils down to two distinct qualities, strength and warmth. Strength can be thought of in terms of competence and ability to accomplish various tasks, and it comes in many forms. Warmth is thought of in terms of relationships, trust, and empathy. The authors make the case that the chosen few who can broadcast both large amounts of strength and warmth are the people we admire most and want to follow.

One of the more interesting findings in this book was that these two traits are not opposite ends of some spectrum, but instead they are independent, or semi-codependent, on each other. What I mean is that too much of one can detract from the other (think of the hot-shot lawyer with ice water in his veins), but when carefully monitored both can be cultivated/broadcast simultaneously to the benefit of the individual. The authors discuss how to achieve this feat in various situations throughout the book.

Although I found the ideas intriguing, the book had some shortcomings. The examples they use to illustrate various strength to warmth combinations sometimes were a bit weak and less than thoroughly explained. They also tended to overuse and repeat certain examples and ideas. I found myself wanting more information on how to develop these two traits, as their focus was more on why.

Overall, “Compelling People” was a quick, easy introduction to an interesting idea. If you are looking for a fast guide to the basics of being charismatic, this is worth your time. There are definitely more thorough and engrossing books out there (i.e. “Admired” by Mark and Bonita Thompson) for those that want a deeper understanding of the topic. That is why this title only gets a 3 out of 5 on the Roll Models Review Scale.

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