Diplomatic Relations

Wharton's relationship-building course puts you in control of your contacts.

Course: Building Relationships That Work
When: Twice a year. Next: November 14-16, 2005 (San Francisco)
Instructors: Charles E. Dwyer and Janet Greco
Class Size: 35
Cost: $5,250
Where: The Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania
Mission: Perking up crucial people skills

It takes two. That's what everyone says about relationships, right? Not Charles Dwyer, who teaches Wharton's relationship-building course and has served as an academic director at the school for the past 30 years. Because we're ultimately defined by the relationships we have with others, he says, we are also individually accountable for them. "To be effective with people, you have to assume the relationship is asymmetrical, with you accepting 100% responsibility."

Dwyer, along with co-instructor Janet Greco, will help you become accountable. The course begins with the Hermann Brain Dominance Index, a test that uses four color-coded types (as opposed to the Myers-Briggs' 16) to categorize people by the way they process information. But knowing thyself is only the beginning. The HBDI will also help you size up others more quickly--crucial for networking and strengthening new relationships. To round out the course, Dwyer and Greco also teach tactics such as active listening (interpreting what people are really trying to say) and productive conversations (framing discussions to suit your audience).

Student evaluation: An HR contact recommended the course to Catherine M. Kriske, a marketing director at Medtronic in Minneapolis. At the time, Kriske's relationship with an R&D colleague was strained. The methods the course taught her, including the HBDI, helped Kriske understand her colleague's intense personality and design ways to help their interactions. "We now have a much better appreciation of ourselves as people," she says. "It no longer feels as though we talk in circles."

Want to go? Get more info at http://executiveeducation.wharton.upenn.edu/relationships

Can't go? Read Dwyer's The Shifting Sources of Power and Influence (American College of Physician Executives, 1991).

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