If you haven’t yet read The Tipping Point by Malcolm Gladwell, add it to your reading list. It’s an amazing book that scrutinizes how and why change occurs as quickly and unexpectedly as it typically does. Its comprehensive insights into social dynamics provide fundamental laws governing the trends of human behavior.
Just as epidemics require only a handful of people to transmit their infection to many others, the few people who socialize and travel most frequently are the factor between a local vs. a global outbreak. Gladwell dubs this theory The Law of The Few.
Gladwell dissects three ‘agents of change,’ or ‘The Few’ that result in the tipping points of epidemics. They are as follows:
Connectors make friends and acquaintances easily which enables them to connect people from all walks of life, subcultures and niches. Gladwell describes the social success of Connectors as “their ability to span many different worlds (which) is a function of something intrinsic to their personality, some combination of curiosity, self-confidence, sociability, and energy.”
Mavens are the Information specialists; the people upon whom we rely to connect us with new information. Mavens accumulate knowledge, in particular marketplace knowledge, and share it with others. As Gladwell states, “Mavens are really information brokers, sharing and trading what they know.”
Salesmen have a knack for persuasion. They are charismatic people with superior negotiation skills. Most have an indefinable trait of persuasive verbal and non-verbal communication, which causes others to want to agree with them.
Which change agent do you most identify with? For example, if you are extremely outgoing, enthusiastic and always willing to help a person in need- even a stranger, you are most likely a Connector. If you are rather introverted or timid, you may not identify with any of the roles, however you may wish to embody some of their characteristics.
To be successful in any role, at any company, during any point of your career, you must embody at least a few of the roles’ characteristics. For example, if you are going to lead a team, you must be able to connect with your team members regardless of their background, pedigree, education, etc. If you are going to succeed in sales, you must hone the power of persuasion and negotiation. If your goal is to land a job in the Purchasing Dept. because deep down, you want to hide behind a computer screen and place bids all day long, you still must be able to communicate effectively with others.
Everyone’s natural inclination is to sit with chummy colleagues during meetings or dear friends during lunch. You must step outside of your comfort zone, reach out to someone you don’t know and strike up a conversation. Try sitting near someone you don’t know well and/or interacting with him or her before a meeting by breaking the ice.
Don’t allow fear to trump your desire to connect with new people. New relationships and connections can be exponentially rewarding for both professional- and personal growth.
If your fear is greater than your desire, consider enrolling in the Dale Carnegie Course: Effective Communications & Human Relations/Skills For Success. Students learn how to strengthen interpersonal relationships, manage stress and handle fast-changing workplace conditions. They develop a take-charge attitude loaded with confidence and enthusiasm, and are therefore better equipped to communicate persuasively.
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