People School is Vanessa van Edwards flagship product on people’s skills.
People School Summary
People School is divided into 12 different skills, and these are some of the notes I took while going through Vanessa’s course:
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, as a website on power dynamics, I pay particular attention to any lesson and reference to power dynamics.
And I very much 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
- Fell introverted
- There is already a driver
#11. Wield Influence
As politically incorrect as it may sound, Vanessa says that we evaluate people asking ourselves whether they are winners or losers (and that’s true).
That’s why here and over the course, she goes over some of the basics 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.
- Solid information
Vanessa and I have slightly different approaches to analyzing, teaching and dissecting social dynamics.
But her information is equally good.
- 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“.
P.S.: the same can be said for the other women she appears with in the video.
- 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.
- Some Famous 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 have been some big discussion in psychology on whether those 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.
Her presentation of testosterone and oxytocin are also 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.
People School REVIEW
So far this is by far my favorite product of her (and pardon the cacophony).
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 herself for a clientele of high-achievers who count on using her course as an investment in their career.