People School: A Brutally Honest Review

people school by vanessa van edwards review

People School is a course on people skills by Vanessa van Edwards.

Summary 

People School is divided into 12 different skills.

Some of them seemed more interesting than others to me.
Hence, I’m going to share only the ones that I found most useful while going through People School.

1. Charisma

We are always trying to assess people on two dimensions:

  • warmth (friendly, likable, trustworthy)
  • competence (capable, powerful, dependable) 

I found it very interesting that for Vanessa high charisma is striking a balance between the two. 

3. Be Engaging

There are three types of gaze:

  • Power gazing (from eyes to forehead, effective work relationship, competence)
  • Social gazing (from eyes to chin, friendliness and collaborative, warmth)
  • Intimate gazing (from eyes to lower neck and upper torso)

Vanessa speculates that is why women wear necklaces: to attract more intimate gazing.

I also duly noted that taller people tend to naturally default to power gazing while shorter people to social gazing.
So shorter people might want to counteract that when they want to come across as more authoritative.

10. Asserting Yourself

Obviously, I pay particular attention to any lesson and reference to power dynamics.

I agreed with Vanessa that not everyone should be a driver at all times, which is a major mistake of some poorer-quality social skills training.

Vanessa says that it’s best to be a (good) follower when you:

  • Don’t know anyone
  • Are new to the environment
  • Are a guest 
  • Feel introverted
  • There is already a driver

To learn more about communication styles and assertiveness also see:

11. Wield Influence

Vanessa says that we evaluate people asking ourselves whether they are winners or losers (and that’s true).

She goes over some of the basics of what makes people high-power (winners) or low-power (losers) like body language, posture, and voice tonality.

And since her course is tailored to career folks, she goes over a study that found out how the most effective pitches to venture capitalists were high in comfort (signaling confidence) and enthusiasm.

Also see:

people school by vanessa van edwards review

PROS

  • Solid information

We’ve already reviewed Captivate and Body Language of Love from Vanessa.
So far People School is our favorite product.

  • High-quality videos

I have taken a lot of courses, and People School has some of the best quality videos around.

  • Great personality

I think that one of the plusses of People School is Vanessa herself. 
She can be a great role model for career women as she manages to strike a very difficult balance that is not easy for women to walk.

She is rocking her business while remaining warm and feminine and she is very high energy without ever becoming too loud or overbearing.
Her high energy instead emanates an aura of “it’s so great to be with you“.

Great stuff.
P.S.: the same can be said for the other women she appears with in the video.

CONS 

  • Cites Some Popular Yet Semi-Debunked Studies That I’m Not Too Convinced Of

Vanessa van Edwards introduces a few studies and explains how they apply to our everyday interactions.
That’s a solid approach to popularize science and turn it into something that people can benefit from in their daily lives.

As a researcher myself I obviously paid more attention than most on the studies and I would have liked a deeper look at the actual methodology (and criticism) of those studies.

For example, Vanessa mentions a popular study on the priming effect that Kahneman also references in his bestseller Thinking Fast and Slow
There has been some heated debate on whether those original studies were even valid as they failed to replicate on successive studies.
Kahneman overall believes the studies were valid, as do more psychologists and as I do as well (and as probably does Vanessa, too).
But the study that she mentions has been thoroughly debunked and you can read more about it in my article on pop-psychology myths.

the presentation of testosterone and oxytocin can be somewhat simplistic, and they are far more environment-dependent, as explained by neuroendocrinologist Robert Sapolsky.

But then again, I understand that People School is not there to debate science, but to provide tools for everyday people.

  • The Waiting List Trick

I understand the need for marketing but I’m not a huge fan of marketing techniques (and that’s part of the spirit with which I started this website).

So the whole thing of “sign up because People School is closed” and having to wait for the emails to roll in wasn’t my cup of tea.

People School REVIEW

Science of People and TPM deal with similar topics, albeit from different angles.

Vanessa and I have slightly different approaches to analyzing, teaching, and dissecting social dynamics.
We dig deeper into the less politically correct side of things here that include manipulation, dark psychology, Machiavellianism, conflicts of interests, and also more amoral but effective strategies (albeit we don’t necessarily advise nor condone them).

We do that because we believe this approach is the only way to truly become effective at life.
And because those are essential skills not only for self-defense, but also for learning to become a better persuaded.

So, of course, we missed that “raw” side in People School.
On the other hand, we still liked it.

I am very busy, but I was very happy whenever I could find time in the evening to watch one more of her video lessons while stretching at the same time (and often having to stop because I had to take notes on the good content).

People School is well structured, it’s entertaining, it has high-quality videos and, most importantly, it has solid information to help people level up their people’s skills.

Last but not least, I think we can learn a lot from what’s not being said, such as how Vanessa herself behaves and moves.
I think she used “sparkling personality” as an adjective in a few of her products… And that description fits her very well.
She has a contagious, bubbly, sparkling personality that I’m sure would light up any room and draw lots of people to her (and here it is hoping she doesn’t have too jealous of a husband :).

Of course, at close to $2.000 the price is not cheap.
Vanessa seems to position her product for corporate folks with access to training budgets.

The refund policy is based on “proving” that one has done the work, so I’d take a good look if one is ready for that type of commitment.

Also see:

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