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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! [Kindle Edition]

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

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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.

Product Details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 269 KB
  • Print Length: 143 pages
  • Publisher: Hachette Books (Oct. 1 2005)
  • Sold by: Hachette Book Group Digital, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Not Enabled
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (42 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #50,652 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)

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Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews
4 of 4 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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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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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Bad advice and obvious good advice July 1 2002
Format:Audio Cassette
Upon finishing this book I couldn't resist being disappointed at what the book had just delivered. It's possible that it was I who had unreasonably high expectations of what the book should've taught me, but I doubt it.
The author, Mrs. Debra Fine, is supposedly a super conversationalist (she calls herself that!) who promises to teach you how to become a super conversationalist yourself. She claims that she was one of those boring engineering specialists who aren't capable of talking about anything that they haven't been trained on in school or college. She used to be shy, afraid, and hesitant during conventions and hospitality receptions. So how did she change?
In the beginning she tells you that there are many old tapes playing in your head that you should get rid of, which include the popular sayings "Don't talk to strangers" and "Silence is gold." Instead, she provides you with new tapes to play that encourage talking to strangers and taking initiative in conversations.
After that she talks about the benefits of getting over your shyness and hesitation and talking to strangers without fear. Afterwards, she provides you with tips and guidelines on what to say and what not to say during small talk conversations. Things not to say such as those questions that will result in a dead-end answer (i.e. How was your weekend, how's the family doing... etc.) and things to say such as proper self-introduction. Then she carries on by providing tips about proper and improper body language gestures during small talks. And finally, she tells us about some conversation killers that we should avoid at all costs.
So you're wondering by now, all of the above seems to be quite interesting. What made me not enjoy the book and learn valuable skills from it?
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
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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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A very helpful manual May 21 2002
By A Customer
Everybody can talk, but can you carry a conversation? Or more to the point, can you manage a quality conversation where both (or all) parties feel great about it when they leave? The Fine Art of Small Talk is an excellent manual to help you improve your conversation skills.
Author and seminar leader Debra Fine delivers a snappy, interactive and concise guide to getting the most out of networking and social occasions. The book includes many useful lists, such as icebreakers to get a conversation going, topics to avoid,, great exit lines to retreat gracefully, ways to fuel a conversation, and ways to leap the chasm of pregnant pauses.
One chapter of special interest is on listening. Do you sometimes talk too much to converse? Do you get distracted by other people or happenings in the room? Do you show your boredom by letting your eyes wander? You, too, huh? The you'll need this chapter as much as I do.
Another chapter of special interest is the one on "conversation criminals", which is essentially tips for dealing with difficult people, such as those who monolpolize conversations or brag too much or put you through an interrogation.
The Fine Art of Small Talk is everything a personal development book should be: short and to the point, interactive and easy to read, and most of all useful.
The reviewer is David Leonhardt, author of Climb your Stairway to Heaven: the 9 habits of maximum happiness...
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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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Most recent customer reviews
3.0 out of 5 stars Didn't help me that much
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.
Published 20 months ago by K. Schwende
4.0 out of 5 stars Rent it! Very clear and crisp advice
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... Read more
Published on April 26 2004 by Manish
2.0 out of 5 stars Probably the most helpful review...
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. Read more
Published on Feb. 24 2004
4.0 out of 5 stars A very helpful book
It is a good book because it teaches you the basics for starting a conversation and keep the same going.
Published on Jan. 31 2004
5.0 out of 5 stars Professor Learns that Small Talk Leads to Positive Learning
I am a typical college professor---easy to speak at length (and ad nauseum) about information that is my specialty. Read more
Published on Nov. 10 2003 by Jody Evans
5.0 out of 5 stars Conversational Tools Helped Me Profit
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... Read more
Published on Nov. 3 2003 by Imoan Thur
1.0 out of 5 stars Where or when is this author from?
This book is just horrible. The author gives tips on catch phrases like "Nice weather today" and other such horrible conversation starters, and ice breakers. Read more
Published on Sept. 18 2003
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant: Step by step gumption!
This book does not challenge those of us without "moxie" to somehow develop it. Nor does the book insist that introverts somehow change their personality. Read more
Published on July 22 2003 by Taowin
1.0 out of 5 stars Not worth your time or money
I am a sales professional and am constantly looking for books to help better myself. This was definitely not one of them... Read more
Published on April 29 2003
3.0 out of 5 stars Not what i expected
The begining of the book was useful. It talked about the little things that you can do to leave positive impressions on people. Read more
Published on Feb. 19 2003 by R. Trochanowski
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