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At the conference “Small Steps, Big Leaps: The Science of Getting People to do the Right Thing,” scientists present tactics for summoning better behavior. They brief attendees at the Center for Social Innovation on data that shows that “gentle nudges, subtle tweaks, and quiet prompts ” are more effective tactics for encouraging social responsibility.

Appealing to the better angels of our nature sounds good in theory, but in this audio lecture, Stanford professor Francis Flynn offers practical solutions to problems such as how to ask people for help, how to motivate people to ask for help, and what to do after people have refused to help. He sheds light on what it means to take the perspective of the person asking for help versus the perspective of the person being asked. His counter-intuitive results spark interesting questions from the audience, many of whom are in nonprofits dependent on volunteer recruitment and fund-raising to achieve their goals.

Francis Flynn says he chose an academic career, in part, because he found the level of “asking for stuff” in a social work career a bit too uncomfortable. In this lecture, Professor Flynn says he brought curiosity about that to his research. His studies focus on social influence and cooperation; they illuminate patterns of interpersonal relations, leadership, diversity and helping behavior in organizations.

Flynn has been a Professor of Organizational Behavior at the Stanford Graduate School of Business since 2006. Flynn received a PhD in Organizational Behavior at the University of California, Berkeley. He then taught at Columbia Business School until 2006. Today at Stanford, he also acts as the Director of the Center for Leadership Development and Research.

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