The Interpersonal Dynamics course, a renowned offering at Chicago Booth, originated from Stanford GSB and has gained popularity among business school students, including those at Booth. Unlike other courses, bidding points are not required for enrollment. Instead, selection is based on the quality of the students’ applications. However, due to limited class size, only 60% of applicants secure a spot.
While I may not recall the specifics of Modigliani and Miller’s assumptions from my corporate finance course, the frameworks acquired in Interpersonal Dynamics (ID) are ingrained in my memory. This course has significantly enhanced my confidence in leadership and interpersonal skills, equipping me with tools to navigate conflicts and repair relationships.
Enrolling in one of the world’s top business schools indicates a certain level of intelligence. However, the key challenge for many MBA graduates lies in effectively managing human relationships at their post-MBA jobs. ID has provided me with the assurance that I can seamlessly navigate these challenges.
The course structure involves placing students in groups of 12 for five sessions. Although the primary goal is not group therapy or trauma dumping, the small class size fosters an intimate atmosphere, allowing students to experiment with concepts of self-disclosure and vulnerability.
The Interpersonal Dynamics course at Chicago Booth, averaging three hours per week, follows the standard class duration at the school, with occasional extensions mentioned in advance by the professor. The class structure involves a one-hour thirty-minute session, followed by an additional thirty minutes dedicated to T-group discussions. During these T-group conversations, an unstructured format prevails, with professors assuming the role of participants rather than instructors.
Upon reflection, one of my most significant accomplishments in this course is the personal growth I’ve achieved in understanding myself and my interactions with others. Traditionally positioned as an observer in group settings, I ascribed my reserved demeanor to introversion. However, challenging this self-perception marked a pivotal moment. Opening up during group discussions yielded tangible outcomes, fostering deeper connections with fellow group members. The shift from the observer’s seat to an active participant profoundly resonates with me.
T group experience
As early as week three, well before the course concluded, I began applying the learned concepts outside the classroom. Notably, the “net” concept, introduced in week three, advocates working with available information and confirming assumptions before drawing conclusions about others. This approach has proven invaluable in averting potentially frustrating situations. As someone prone to overthinking and overanalyzing, staying within my side of the “net” and validating assumptions has been transformative. This newfound perspective prevented a strain in my closest friendship at Booth. Sensing a change in my friend’s attitude, rather than assuming she was upset with me, I opted to check my assumptions. It turned out she was grappling with frustration due to her baby’s illness. I was grateful that I didn’t withdraw when she needed support the most, avoiding the pitfalls of unfounded assumptions. The practical application of course concepts has not only enhanced my interpersonal skills but has also had a tangible impact on my personal relationships, emphasizing the enduring relevance of the Interpersonal Dynamics course beyond its classroom confines.
The magical weekend
Aside from the core purpose of having a weekend set aside to finish up a huge chunk of the class material outside of the usual classroom setting, the environment was exhilarating and refreshing at the same time and it was so nice to get away from the busy life in Chicago to St. Charles where we would then spend two transformational nights.
In most organizations, one popular evaluation method was to rank individuals based on the performance of their peers, and a similar approach was used during the weekend. It was a difficult exercise, but it created an avenue to get feedback on how I showed up in the group over 5 weeks before the weekend. After the T group sessions, we also had an avenue to socialize and some decided to play games, take a walk, or just grab drinks with classmates.
Wrapping up the class
A significant milestone achieved during the course was the expansion of my Johari window. The Johari window, akin to a four-quadrant model, encompasses aspects of self-awareness and mutual understanding in interpersonal relationships. It involves what I know about myself that others are unaware of, what others know about me that I am oblivious to, the shared awareness between myself and others, and the grey area representing aspects unknown to both parties. Actively employing self-disclosure to broaden the quadrant that pertains to what others know about me facilitated a deeper connection with people and provided feedback on aspects of myself that remained in the shadows.
The course equipped us with various frameworks and tools essential for navigating interpersonal relationships, including the skill of naming our feelings. To streamline this process, four feelings cards were typically placed in the middle of the T-group, allowing group members to select a card representing the emotions they wished to express. The attached image captures the final class, originally intended to showcase the feelings card, but to my surprise, the professors provided each of us with a copy.
Summing up my experience in one word, I can describe the course as transformational. I wholeheartedly recommend that anyone entering Chicago Booth prioritize Interpersonal Dynamics (ID) as a crucial course in their academic journey. The insights gained and skills developed are not only valuable within the academic realm but also resonate profoundly in personal and professional spheres.