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The Fine Art of Small Talk: How to Start a Conversation, Keep It Going, Build Networking Skills--and Leave a Positive Impression!

The Fine Art of Small Talk: How to Start a Conversation, Keep It Going, Build Networking Skills--and Leave a Positive Impression! [Kindle Edition]

Debra Fine
3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (42 customer reviews)

Print List Price: CDN$ 19.00
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Sold by: Hachette Book Group Digital, Inc.
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Product Description

From Publishers Weekly

Would-be social butterflies will get encouragement but little inspiration from this not quite scintillating self-help primer. Fine, a conversation consultant, insists that small talk is the necessary overture to deeper communication, the key to generating business leads and dates and a pathway to a richer life in which strangers are magically transformed into acquaintances. She covers such cocktail-party conundrums as how to spot "approachable" interlocutors, how to make introductions, how to butt into an intriguing conversation, resuscitate a flagging one and bail out of a boring one, and how to resist one-uppers, know-it-alls, motormouths and other abusers of talk. Given the ingrained human reluctance to talk to strangers, will, not technique, is the real issue. Much of the book is taken up with motivational pep-talks to get readers to initiate contact (one agonizing exercise suggests "walk through the mall and just say hello to ten people as you pass them"); in a world where everyone feels at a loss for words, Fine argues, saying virtually anything makes one a "hero." Unfortunately, it doesn't necessarily make one a great conversationalist. The heart of Fine's methodology consists of long lists of icebreakers and inviting questions that she instructs readers to memorize and regurgitate as needed to jump-start and sustain conversations, and these read like rather bad small-talk-dull ("How has the internet affected your life?"), stilted ("Do you have a personal motto or creed?") and awkward ("Describe an embarrassing moment you've had."). Tongue-tied readers can benefit from her pointers and exhortation, but one hopes they will think a little harder before they speak.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Library Journal

These two books treat similar subjects, but the contrasts are significant. One covers the entire landscape of speaking, whereas the other focuses just on "small talk." The title of Speak from the Heart describes the book's very solid premise. Emmy Award-winning broadcaster and motivational speaker Adubato emphasizes the importance of being genuine as he attempts to cover every conceivable speaking situation, including public speaking, private conversations, group discussions, and listening. He guides readers in the use of eye contact, developing a conversational style, and being comfortable with their message. Despite many charming personal anecdotes and stories drawn from other sources, this book remains a heavy read. Ironically, while Adubato tells us to make a connection with our audience rather than to "cover the material," he does a much better job of covering the material than of connecting. In contrast, Fine fully engages her audience. She involves readers in the discussion and gives lists of lines people can use to start, maintain, or end a conversation. She discusses conversation topics and how to use them and also includes quizzes, throws in a poem, and scatters a few cartoons to break up the text. Originally released as an audiocassette in 1997, this work comes across much like one of her seminars on small talk. The Fine Art of Small Talk does everything that Speak from the Heart says should be done. Adubato's book is best for academic libraries or large public and business libraries. Fine's is a better choice for most public libraries, as well as business libraries. David Leonhardt, Toronto
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars More harm than good Dec 28 2003
By A Customer
This book starts off by letting you know that by being shy you are being perceived by many as being arrogant, haughty or pretentous. Great, so it's worse than I thought. What follows are alot of open-ended questions that I can never see myself using and some very general advice about body language, social personality types and so on. There's not much substance at all that I found to be useful.
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16 of 18 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Probably the most helpful review... Feb. 24 2004
By A Customer
This book is written by a woman, for women. Being male and reading this book, i quickly saw how useless this book is for me. I am not being sexist so quit mounting your offense, i am simply stating fact. Her lack of knowledge on the male spectrum of this lack of communication skill is obvious. She knows what it's like for women, but cannot speak for men.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars God Awful, Period. Aug. 3 2002
I am a 21-year old male who lives in Los Angeles, and I was looking for a book that would help me get off to a good start with people I was meeting for the first time. I wanted a method for finding appropriate topics to ask questions about based on the context and situation I was in at a given time. This book did not deliver at all; among other things, it gives you a list of stock questions that don't necessarily apply to situations most people find themselves in. Does the author really expect us to approach a perfect stranger and ask them, "How has the Internet affected your life?" or "If you knew you were going to die tomorrow, what would be your biggest regret?" I don't know what kind of demographic this book was written for, but its definitely not for anyone my age.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Conversational Tools Helped Me Profit Nov. 3 2003
As an attorney and business woman I found this book a tool that helped me profit. Conversational skills were not something I was born with yet seem to be a necessary skill for those who seek success in this competitive marketplace. This book gave me the tools I need to go to networking events and association meetings and make the most of these opportunities.
The author gives the reader icebreakers, exit lines and everything in between. It's a must have for any business person who understands the importance of building relationships as the foundation for building business. It's also a perfect gift for any professional not born with the "gift of gab."
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3.0 out of 5 stars Didn't help me that much March 17 2014
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Most of the tips in this book are just plain common sense. It didn't really help me in my quest to overcome my small talk struggles.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Motivational, but not sure it helped me Sept. 3 2003
By A Customer
Format:Audio Cassette
In listening to the tapes I was thinking to myself that Debra made a lot of sense and offered some good advice. She is also pleasant to listen to, as far as a tape on small talk goes. Once you actually try to apply the tips she gives you though, it is a whole other story. I find it very akward to say things like, "Really, and how did that affect you?" Or, "Tell me about your family." to strangers. I mean, who says that? lol
There are some little tips on information collecting that proved useful, but some of her actual "conversation starters" I fear I won't be using.
Worth listening to for the price... maybe try to borrow it from a friend though first. :)
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4.0 out of 5 stars Rent it! Very clear and crisp advice April 26 2004
By Manish
Format:Audio Cassette
The issue is that most us find it difficult to have a small talk specially with strangers.
The conclusion is that if you take the risk (of rejection) and burden of making the small talk, you will reap the benefits.
The examples are good. I like it for the clarity and crispness. I am going to try the advise since it is not too difficult.
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1.0 out of 5 stars not helpful at all Jan. 7 2004
By A Customer
I don't see how this book would help anyone. The 50 icebreakers were just awful! If a stranger approached me with pretty much any of the 50 suggested icebreakers, I'd refer to my "how to get out of a conversation" handbook.....not worth your money.
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Popular Highlights

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Number two: Assume the burden. It is up to each and every one of us to assume the burden of conversation. It is our responsibility to come up with topics to discuss; it is up to us to remember peoples names and to introduce them to others; it is up to us to relieve the awkward moments or fill the pregnant pause. &quote;
Highlighted by 76 Kindle users
The first step in becoming a great conversationalist is becoming invested in the conversation and actively working to help the other person feel comfortable. &quote;
Highlighted by 75 Kindle users
It had never occurred to me that shyness could be mistaken for arrogance. While shyness and arrogance are worlds apart, the visible manifestation of each can appear the same. &quote;
Highlighted by 71 Kindle users

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