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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent book for starting conversations
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...
Published on March 29 2003 by Robert A. Drensek

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13 of 17 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars For Complete Wallflowers Only
I have a little trouble sometimes maintaining a conversation, and small talk really isn't my forte. I don't ordinarily buy self-help books, but I read the reviews of this one and I thought I'd give it a try. Well, the good news is that apparently I'm much more socially capable than I'd thought. The bad news, for me, is that this book has little to offer to anyone...
Published on Oct. 8 2003 by Dylan Mantini


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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent book for starting conversations, March 29 2003
By 
Robert A. Drensek (Huntsville, AL USA) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Conversationally Speaking: Tested New Ways to Increase Your Personal and Social Effectiveness (Paperback)
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.
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13 of 17 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars For Complete Wallflowers Only, Oct. 8 2003
This review is from: Conversationally Speaking: Tested New Ways to Increase Your Personal and Social Effectiveness (Paperback)
I have a little trouble sometimes maintaining a conversation, and small talk really isn't my forte. I don't ordinarily buy self-help books, but I read the reviews of this one and I thought I'd give it a try. Well, the good news is that apparently I'm much more socially capable than I'd thought. The bad news, for me, is that this book has little to offer to anyone capable of even the most banal responses in social situations. Say, for example, that someone comes up to you at a party and happens to mention that they've just returned from France. Would you (a) ask what airline they took and whether they enjoyed the flight, (b) ask what parts of France they'd visited, (c) offer observations based on your own experience in France, (d) ask the person how, as an American, he or she was received in France given the recent international tensions between the two countries, or (e) offer up any one of a thousand other innocuous responses? According to Garner, you should ask the person "how did you manage to get hotel rooms over there?" or "in what way was the food there different from what we have here?" Well, you can probably imagine how much further the conversation is fated to go once your interlocutor realizes that he/she is talking to a complete ditz: "Well, I called and made a reservation." "It's, uh, French food." I can see these suggestions being of some help if your only other alternative was to stammer out some unintelligible response, or to say, "Ooh la la," or some such thing. Such examples are rife throughout the book, leading me to believe that it could only possibly help the most socially inept among us. Honestly, I'm not trying to be mean-spirited, and I can see how this book _might_ help someone who simply cannot think of a single thing to say. But even in that regard, Garner advances theories and then cuts them short without developing them. About five times I turned the page, expecting to continue reading whatever mildly interesting thesis Garner had put forth, only to find that the chapter had ended! The book is basically a powerpoint presentation for nerds. You're better off just having a little confidence in your own abilities.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Covers certain skills well, but not perfect., April 6 2003
By 
Luscious Luke "luckyluke1202" (Salt Lake City, UT United States) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Conversationally Speaking: Tested New Ways to Increase Your Personal and Social Effectiveness (Paperback)
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.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Once a weirdo wallflower, now I'm socially confident!, Dec 6 1998
By A Customer
This review is from: Conversationally Speaking: Tested New Ways to Increase Your Personal and Social Effectiveness (Paperback)
10 years ago I felt like a soul going about in a suit of armor fashioned from rusty scrap metal which had once been a septic tank. I had problems stemming from my youth.
The time had come for me to change or I was going to die, either of lonliness or suicide, so I got into therapy. I started feeling better soon, but needed to build new, practical habits. I hardly knew where to begin; books seemed a good place.
I found Alan Garner's book and seized it immediately.
It's a wonderful book if you desire practical conversational skills that will touch many areas of you life in a positive way. Garner gently guides you step-by-step from finding others to meet, to starting conversations & keeping them going, to resolving conflicts once you're in a relationship.
How fascinating for a young man like me to know the freedom of exchanging silly pick-up lines (or begging) for the calm of honest interest and realistic expectatations.
I am no longer bewildered about why some people are much more successful that others socially, and if you read Alan Garner's book you'll join in the understanding.
May you set yourself free.
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5.0 out of 5 stars GREAT BOOK!, July 3 2003
By A Customer
This review is from: Conversationally Speaking: Tested New Ways to Increase Your Personal and Social Effectiveness (Paperback)
I'll keep it short. It's one of the best book I'd ever read. While reading it, my personality started to change, for the better. In the last few years, i'm changing the most right now. This book is good, it's great! READ IT!
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4.0 out of 5 stars Easy and Helpful, April 25 2003
By 
James Schoonmaker (Centreville, Virginia USA) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Conversationally Speaking: Tested New Ways to Increase Your Personal and Social Effectiveness (Paperback)
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.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Highly recommended, Feb. 27 2003
By 
tzefirah "tzefirah" (Media, PA United States) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Conversationally Speaking: Tested New Ways to Increase Your Personal and Social Effectiveness (Paperback)
I highly recommend this book to people who feel either shy or awkward in social situations. I feel that I have gotten a great deal of useful information out of this book.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Great book!, Dec 26 2002
By A Customer
This review is from: Conversationally Speaking: Tested New Ways to Increase Your Personal and Social Effectiveness (Paperback)
Easy reading, lots of examples, very usefull
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5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent!..., Nov. 30 2002
This review is from: Conversationally Speaking: Tested New Ways to Increase Your Personal and Social Effectiveness (Paperback)
I'm so grateful that I read this book. I think it's way more professional than "The fine art of small talk". It has an inside-out analysis of conversational behaviors. Plus it not only teaches you what to do, but how to do it in such a clear and organized way. I will feel ashame if my communication skills don't get significantly improved after reading this book.
Excellent book! Give it a try!
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5.0 out of 5 stars Good book for quiet people, Nov. 29 2002
By 
"highschoolsucksalot" (San Francisco, CA United States) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Conversationally Speaking: Tested New Ways to Increase Your Personal and Social Effectiveness (Paperback)
If you frequently find yourself unable to think of anything to say, or anything worthwhile to say, buy this book. Before I bought this book I would always find myself in dead-end conversations. People would think I was boring and had nothing going for me. While that's true, this book has helped me to at least seem like a regular person. If you're a complete introvert with no hope this book might not turn you into Mr. Popularity but it will do you A LOT of good. Buy it!
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