Exercise: Creating a Discussion Map

Daniel Pink

Lesson time 09:03 min

Daniel shares his favorite trick for identifying the best point of influence in a group dynamic.

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Topics include: Practical Uses of Discussion Maps


[00:00:00.00] [MUSIC PLAYING] [00:00:06.86] TEACHER: When you walk into a room, you may think you know who the powerful people are. But first impressions can be wrong. What I'm about to show you is a tool to notice the hidden dynamics of any meeting or situation. Good persuaders are good observers of the context that they're in. This is a tool to give you a sense of what's really going on in a group. [00:00:31.59] I call it a discussion map. Once you understand who has influence within a group, you know the right person to persuade. I don't want you to go in, and use all these great persuasion techniques, and end up persuading the wrong person, the person who's not the decision maker. I want you to find the right person to persuade. A discussion map is a really great tool that allows you to do that. The way you make a discussion map is actually relatively simple and straightforward. [00:00:56.70] You can do it while you're sitting in a boring meeting. What you do is you draw a circle with every participant in that conversation. Then each time somebody talks, you draw a small X next to their name. Then you also draw an arrow from the person who is talking to the person they're talking to. And in the end, what you're going to have is a map. I'll teach you how to do this step by step. [00:01:22.24] Now, it won't be something you do in every persuasive encounter. But seeing me do it will show you what to really pay attention to. Who's talking the most? Who's being talked to the most? Who's being neglected? And it's going to give you this X-ray about what's really going on inside that conversation. To show you how to make a discussion map, I'm going to use a clip from the movie Primary Colors. Primary Colors is a movie about a presidential candidate, and his campaign team, and how they navigate crisis after crisis. [00:01:53.19] Now, in the scene I'm about to show you, there's a character named Richard, who is the campaign manager. He's next to another campaign official, named Daisy. And she's seated next to a junior campaign person named Henry. They invite into the room the wife of the presidential candidate. Her name is Susan. [00:02:11.85] She, to everyone's surprise, has brought in her friend named Lucille. So now I'm going to start the discussion map by charting who the characters are. So over here in the scene is Richard. That's an R. All right, I'll put a D for Daisy. I'm going to put an H for Henry. Over here on the other side of the table are Lucille, Susan's friend. She is a surprise in the room. And then Susan herself. [00:02:38.76] And what I'm going to do is, each time a character speaks, I'm going to draw an X next to their name. And I'm going to indicate with an arrow who that character is speaking to. Now, the scene begins with Richard coming up of some kind of crazy metaphor about being caught with your pants down in the woods while a wild boar is confronting you. It's not going well. So Daisy steps in to explain. [00:03:02.22...

About the Instructor

With four NYT bestsellers, Daniel Pink is an influential voice in the evolving landscape of sales and motivation. Now the author of To Sell Is Human teaches you science-backed principles for effective and ethical sales and persuasion. Learn tactics for achieving better outcomes in any interaction—at home or at work—and tools for framing your message, navigating cognitive biases, and pitching ideas, products, or yourself.

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Daniel Pink

NYT-bestselling author Daniel Pink shares a science-based approach to the art of persuading, selling, and motivating yourself and others.

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