Professor Profiles: “Interpersonal Dynamics,” Stanford Graduate School of Business

Many MBA applicants feel that they are purchasing a brand when they choose which business school to attend, but the educational experience you’ll have is what is really crucial to your future, and no one will affect your education more than your professors. Each Wednesday, we profile a standout professor as identified by students, but today we focus on a course instead: “Interpersonal Dynamics” at the Stanford Graduate School of Business.

Although “Interpersonal Dynamics” is a course at the Stanford Graduate School of Business (GSB) rather than an outstanding professor (as we usually profile), mbaMission feels it deserves a special mention. Also known as “Touchy Feely,” this extremely popular class is regarded as one of the quintessential Stanford GSB experiences and is all about interpersonal relationships. Some alumni have described the class to mbaMission as one that is “not to be missed.” In fact, one GSB graduate who did not take the course while in school wrote an article in Stanford Business Magazine about how grateful he was for the opportunity to take a weeklong version of the class at Stanford as an alumnus. In the article, he explained, “The approach was much more interactive and application oriented than anything I remembered from the GSB, and I pushed myself intellectually, emotionally and physically in ways I could not have anticipated before I arrived. And yes, I did cry.”

Another alumnus noted to mbaMission that “everyone ends up crying” at least once during the course of the class, quickly noting that he found the experience extremely valuable and that it had a positive impact on his relationships with his GSB classmates, friends and family. Via unstructured and structured course time, videotapes, role-plays and even a weekend retreat, students exchange feedback on how they interact with others. In addition to meeting for a regular class session two days a week, students are divided into 10–12 person T-groups (“T” is for training) to work with the aid of an outside facilitator on communication goals. The experience is often so powerful that some Touchy Feely sections even have reunions after graduation. According to an alumna, Touchy Feely section reunions are very informal and sometimes even involve annual weekend trips, such as to Las Vegas.

For more information about the Stanford GSB and 15 other top-ranked business schools, check out the mbaMission Insider’s Guides.

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