Introductory Seminars for First-Year Students

Savvy: Learning How to Communicate with Purpose

OB 110N

Our seminar is designed for individuals interested in improving their communication skills. Right now, you probably don't spend much time thinking about the way you communicate; nor are you likely, in the academic setting, to get much feedback on the messages you send. Yet the quality of your communication will have a large impact on your overall effectiveness in building relationships and getting things done, both in the university setting and later in your career. Each of the sessions in our seminar will help you appreciate the nature and complexity of communication and provide guidelines for both improving your communication style and recognizing the unique styles of others.

In each class session we'll consider a number of well-studied forms of interpersonal communication. And, we'll rely heavily on experiential learning to bring the concepts to life. For example, to better understand the dynamics of unstructured, spontaneous communication we will participate in an improvisational theatre workshop, taught by one of the artists-in-residence at the Groundlings Theater in Los Angeles. To better understand persuasive communication tactics, we will participate in role-play exercises, competitive games, and negotiation simulations. For each tactic, we'll talk about why it works, when it works best, and what its limitations might be. We'll discuss how you can put these approaches to work in order to support your goals.

After taking this course, you will be better able to: (1) identify strategies for crafting effective communication in the form of everyday conversation, written work, and public presentations; (2) develop techniques for building strong, long-term relationships with your peers; and (3) become more persuasive in advancing an agenda, acquiring resources, or gaining support from others. These skills will be invaluable to you as you grow and develop here at Stanford and beyond.

Meet the Instructor(s)

Francis Flynn

Francis (Frank) Flynn is Paul E. Holden Professor of Organizational Behavior at Stanford University’s Graduate School of Business. He manages and teaches in several executive education programs, including Stanford’s Executive Leadership Development Program. He also designs and directs several custom programs for companies, including Colgate Palmolive, Genentech, Flextronics, and PG&E. A winner of multiple teaching awards, Professor Flynn’s courses focus on developing leadership skills at various organizational levels—from high-potential managers to senior executives. His research focuses on topics confronting today’s leaders—facilitating communication, inspiring motivation, and leveraging human resources to achieve outstanding results.

Frank is a graduate of the University of Notre Dame. He lives in Palo Alto with his wife, Christina, and his three sons, Colin, Jack, and Aiden.