Co-Author of The Chairs Are Where the People Go
—Jonathan Goldstein, This American Life contributing editor
Misha Glouberman is passionate about how people connect with each other—at work, at conferences, in cities, anywhere we meet. The New Yorker named his breakthrough book, The Chairs Are Where the People Go, one of the best of 2011. The Harvard Business Review described one event he facilitated as “reinventing the way stakeholders collaborate with decision-makers.”
At conferences, Misha Glouberman’s presence is transformative. He has worked with a variety of organizers to spark vital conversations among participants—conversations that clarify or change the entire direction of the event. One+, the Meeting Planners International magazine, recently ran a feature on his work as a conference facilitator. It described him as “humanizing relationships—one event at a time.” The Globe and Mail compares Glouberman to a mash-up of “Peter Mansbridge’s smarts and Conan O’Brien’s wit”—a man who can “turn a Q&A session into a surprisingly sincere collaboration.”
Glouberman is an expert in conflict resolution, communication, and negotiation skills, and teaches an ongoing series of classes on these topics entitled “How to Talk to People about Things.” A collection of his thoughts, The Chairs Are Where the People Go: How to Live, Work, and Play in the City, co-authored with Sheila Heti, was called “a triumph of what might be called conversational philosophy … hilarious and humane” by The New Yorker.
How to Talk to People About Things: Communication Secrets from Expert Negotiators
Negotiation is all about reaching decisions with people who want something different than you, which is to say: pretty much everyone. It’s more than a skill, negotiation is about developing a new perspective on relationships with other people. We can all learn how to become better at forging agreements, creating mutual gain, and resolving conflicts, in all areas of our lives. But how?
Misha Glouberman will help you transform the way you view negotiation, and the reasons people disagree in the first place. His talk will help you get past the roadblocks that prevent agreement, and recognize the traps and misunderstandings that people fall into, especially when emotions run high. By understanding someone else’s perspective, yours will grow. Glouberman draws on research from many sources, including Harvard’s Program on Negotiation, and uses storytelling and humour to illustrate how to talk to people when it seems like you are speaking in two different languages. These are life-changing skills that can transform how you see the world and the people around you.
How to Make This Conference Better
A lot of energy, effort, and expense goes into planning and attending a conference. Conferences can be a great opportunity to learn, to meet new people, to have interesting and valuable conversations. Yet, they seldom live up to this promise. In this participatory event, Misha Glouberman sets about to change this. Because people come to events knowing very few people, or knowing only the people in their small world or silo, Glouberman initiates a series of conversations where every participant meets a dozen new people. These groups then talk in ways that are genuine and human in a non-intimidating context. (Shy attendees, especially, love this exercise!) People get to share ideas about the event, its themes, and what they are hoping to get out of it. By the end, literally thousands of new connections can be formed within a group, dramatically changing the social dynamic and network map of the event. Conference goers leave Glouberman’s unique session feeling energized, connected, and focused.
Cities Are Places Where People Want Different Things
Misha Glouberman looks at multiple issues about living in cities: etiquette on public transit, dealing with noisy neighbors, bikes and cars, gentrification, and many other topics. With candor, counterintuitive provocations, and a lucid reasonableness, Glouberman challenges many of the clichés about living in cities, while explaining that the most important way to understand a city is as a place full of people who coexist, while wanting different things from each other.
Hosting, Moderating, Panels, Q&A’s
Misha Glouberman has spent many years making lots of conversational and participatory events run smoothly. He knows a lot about how to make a Q&A work well, how to keep a panel discussion on-track, and how to keep an event running. Partly that expertise lies in planning—thinking about how to set these things up—and partly it lies in execution: being on stage to clarify unclear questions and synthesize points from multiple panelists. The host is the glue that holds an event together, yet it is a role that is seldom given much thought. Misha Glouberman offers a corrective. He’s a charming host who brings a measure of assuredness and a spirit of curiosity.
Misha was fabulous! The lecture theatre was packed and people really, really loved the presentation. We got an awful lot of positive feedback and Misha made the event a great success.The next day’s seminar was much smaller, but again productive and informative. There were a couple of people from Maxwell who organize a conference in the Middle East in conjunction with the State Department, and they found his ways of engaging the problem of bringing together in a conference setting people who don't know one another very informative.
The Chairs Are Where the People Go
Should neighborhoods change? Is wearing a suit a good way to quit smoking? Why do people think that if you do one thing, you’re against something else? Is monogamy a trick? Why isn’t making the city more fun for you and your friends a super-noble political goal? Why does a computer last only three years? How often should you see your parents? How should we behave at parties? Is marriage getting easier? What can spam tell us about the world? Misha Glouberman's friend and collaborator, Sheila Heti, wanted her next book to be a compilation of everything Misha knew. Together, they made a list of subjects. As Misha talked, Sheila typed. He talked about games, relationships, cities, negotiation, improvisation, Casablanca, conferences, and making friends. His subjects ranged from the sublime to the ridiculous. But sometimes what had seemed trivial began to seem important—and what had seemed important began to seem less so. The Chairs Are Where the People Go is refreshing, appealing, and kind of profound. It’s a self-help book for people who don't feel they need help, and a how-to book that urges you to do things you don’t really need to do.
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