3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on April 6, 2003
This is the first book I've read that covers the difficult art of conversation. This book contains information just unobvious enough to not be common sense to most people so it is worth the money you will pay for it, but don't expect it to turn a person lacking conversational skills into Mr. Popular.
My main problem with the book is that it gives plenty of tips on getting others to talk and listening carefully to what they say, but lacks in its information on your ability to communicate what YOU want to say in a way that will get people interested in what you have to say. There is nothing in there about improving your conversational wit.
But an even larger problem I have with this book is that there is absolutely no information about humor. I believe humor is one of the most important skills a good conversationalist can have. In other words, even if you perfect every skill in this book, you will still be a fairly boring person. You may sound intellectual and be able to follow a conversation effectively, but you will still sound like a robot.
The communication this book teaches just sounds too formal to be completely realistic. People just don't talk like the examples seem to suggest in informal situations like parties, bars, restaraunts, etc. This is all coming from a college sophomore who is looking to become "cooler" and make more friends, but this book does little to improve that aspect of my life. Therefore, my opinions may not apply to everyone and an older person who isn't concerned with such things may find this book quite a bit more useful.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on March 29, 2003
The book is direct, clearly written, with many practical examples. There are books on the market that are more detailed in specific topics such as active listening, but as an overall practical guide to improving social effectiveness through starting and maintaining conversations, this is excellent.
The key to good converstation, per the author, is asking open ended questions that focus on the other person. Be actively engaged in the conversation through active listening.
The book also goes into how deliver honest positives, even when that is difficult. You could call this "spin", but it is spin in the more positive sense, as opposed to what some politicians have performed.
The book also deals with how to communicate personal information to maintain and develop the conversation, use of body language, active listening, issuing invitation (conversations and other), handling criticism, defusing difficult situations, and requesting change of behaviors in others.
As I said, the book is well written, covers each subject well, with plenty of useful examples. If you liked Covey's "Seven Habits", you'll like this book. I plan to make use of many of the techniques.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on December 23, 2000
I have been shy most of my life and until I read this book I felt totally socially inept. I had no idea of what to say to people or how to say it upon first meeting them and I would let others take the risk of introducing themselves to me. Now my shyness is gone and I can approach anyone without any fear of rejection, this book has saved me from a life of abject loneliness and made me into a social STAR. By using the tools Alan Garner gives the reader, one is able to create deep meaningful relationships. Conversation is the fabric of human interaction and questions are the foundation of conversation. Through asking the correct type of questions one is able to discover exactly what type of person they are dealing with. I went from having non-discovery conversations lasting only a few minutes to deep meaningful conversations lasting all night. If you want to have friendships of value this book is for you. I am amazed at how much people reveal about themselves to me, people are no longer a mystery to me, they are a treasure chest of information and excitement.
If you are shy as I was this book and Feel The Fear And Do It Anyway by Susan Jeffers will help you become the person you were born to be.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on November 29, 2000
I read this book as a person interested in meeting other people: I wished to make my communication easier, especially when with handsome strangers and unfamiliar acquaintances! Without doubt this book has been a great help, however, be warned its focus is on Prolonging conversation, primarily by getting others to talk: The crucial issue of making conversation Stimulating is left vaguely in the subtext. The book may not help with specific problems of self-confidence; e.g. fear of asking personal questions, difficulties in taking issue with people (and solving issues) or trouble with putting personal problems into words (i.e. open forum), and it certainly won't provide you with a sense of humour. All of these, I believe, are the oxygen of close relationships and personal charisma.
After reading this book you may find, like myself, that you are complimented by friends for being able to talk to people, and for Knowing lots of people, yet you may still hold up your hands and say "I have talked to many people but made few close friends". I would have also liked to see more specific ideas for conversational openings (for which you may like to investigate "The book of fabulous questions"). Whatever Conversationally Speaking has to teach, I believe that spontaneity; the ability to speak the impulsive thoughts in ones mind, is the key. What this means is that when issues are raised in your thoughts, instead of going away and trying to solve them by reading self-help books (which personally effective people don't read!) or by thinking it through on your own: Raise the issue immediately with the person you have it with! Your 'issues' (often issues of personal failing) are the seeds of what you have to talk about. To my mind, Conversationally Speaking operates as an analysis and expose of what happens when personal spontaneity is in effect. Its strength is that, if you Really have trouble meeting people, this book Will help you. Meantime: Speak your mind: "Admit" what you're thinking, and drop the Hesitation from your communication!
on March 27, 2002
Conversationally Speaking is surprisingly subtle and deep despite or perhaps because of its simple, straightforward language, methods and anecdotes.
Many a time, at the start of a chapter, I'd think, "where's Garner going with this", or "that seems a little obvious" only to be completely surprised and profoundly taken aback by his shrewd observations and wisdom, a few pages later.
This book bears multiple readings because it has much to say in despite being concise. I especially like the chapters on Self-Disclosure, Self-Defeating Rules, and IDF (Idealization, Frustration, Demoralization) disease, which were real eye-openers.
If I have any criticism of this book, it would be to say that, like many a self-help book (like The Seven Habits, and First Things First), it features many proactive strategies, in this case for overcoming shyness and improving all relationships, but it doesn't deal with the limits of those strategies, i.e. it doesn't overtly state that sometimes the best thing to do is cut your losses and ditch a relationship that's not working. Instead there is an implication to not give up on anyone, and to shrug off others' bad behaviour, rather than trusting your intuition and calling it what it is.
Keeping that in mind, the book is still worth every penny.
on July 2, 2001
A had read three books on making conversation (How To Work A Room, What Do I Say Next?, and How to Start A Conversation and Make Friends). I really tried to do what they said, but for several years now, I have just fallen flat and have not been able to "connect" with others. After reading Mr. Garner's book just last week, I have really been connecting with many people. For the first time, I have been given information that actually works because it is suited to what makes people "tick". Whereas the aforementioned books basically tell you to act nice, listen, and have interesting information to talk about, Mr. Garner's information gives you tools to have people actually want to continue talking with you. I felt that the other books made you still be somewhat "boring" to other people because most people want you to relate to them, rather than them having to find your topics interesting. This book has really changed my life and I am really grateful! Other good picks are (audiotapes) The Fine Art of Small Talk by Deborah Fine and The Pocket Guide to Making Successful Small Talk: How to Talk to Anyone Anytime Anywhere About Anything by Bernardo J. Carducci, Ph D.
on April 8, 2001
I had considered myself a very shy person, never knowing what to say to new people, so I decided to read this book. This book is a very helpful book. The author, Alan Garner, takes you through his step by step Conversationally Speaking course, which will help anyone who has any problems striking conversation.
Garner gives advice on how to make people want to talk to you, everything from how to give off a positive body language and seem to others to be open and willing to socialize, to how you can make people interested in what you talk about, just by talking about things that interest them? Now you may ask, how do you know what interests someone, or how do I talk in a way that will make me seem more intriguing to a person, if I dont know them or what they want, let alone what they think??? Your answer..... Read this book!!!!! It tells you all of that and more, and all of Garner's techniques are supported by real life situations, and in many cases, real life dialogue that Garner has either been a part of himself, been there to see it, or heard from a friend. Just reading these alone can show you how to be more sociable and build self confidence. In short, if you want to be a better people person, then READ THIS BOOK!!!!!!!!
on April 25, 2003
If you have problems starting conversations or keeping them going, this is a very helpful book. However, it's not a panacea- to improve your conversational skill you'll have to practice.
Each section describes a single "issue", such as the basics of effective listening, or how to follow up on information you learn during a conversation. None of it will make you gasp and realize that's the hidden key, but it serves as a useful discussion of why each issue is important. Integrated into the discussion are instructions on how to use it in your day-to-day life.
Since none of the ideas are much more than fairly well-known components of interpersonal conversation, most of your learning from this book won't come from reading. However, if you follow the author's suggestions and read one section, then practice it for a day, it really is useful.
on December 2, 2001
This is very useful to learn how I should improve my communication with North Americans. By reading this book, I realized why my American friend looked embarrassed when I kept saying NO to her praise about myself. I had misunderstood "NO" indicated my modesty, but I should have shown my honesty to her then.
The chapter I like best is "conveying meaning by motion". Well explained about personal space, eye contact, touch, posture and smiling. It will help you to learn basic skill and knowledge for better communication.
All humans have different personality and background. If we really want to understand better and be closer to others, we could come to open the door in the end through our struggles. No perfect manual for human relationship. That's why human is interesting!
on December 25, 1998
When I was a freshman at HSU in 1981 I didn't have a real conversation with anyone for the first six weeks. Nearly a hermit, I finally exchanged a "hello" and a few words with someone and was elated for days.
Knowing I needed lots of help in the conversation department, I looked for a book on how to talk with people. What I found was Alan Garner's first edition of CONVERSATIONALLY SPEAKING. Without a hint of hyperbole I can say that it changed my life. Over a relatively short period I became a highly skilled conversationalist and a highly sought after friend. I ended up making a career out of the skills I learned in this book. Thank you Alan Garner.