Before I gave myself a remedial education in the Fine Art of Small Talk, I had been a poor communicator and a timid person for as long as I could recall. Preface. The Fine Art of Small Talk: How to Start a Conversation, Keep It Going, Build Networking Skills--and Leave a Positive Impression! by Debra Fine. Read online, or. Nationally recognized communication expert Debra Fine reveals the techniques and strategies anyone can use to make small talk-in any situation. Do you.
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Read "The Fine Art of Small Talk How to Start a Conversation, Keep It Going, Build Networking Skills--and Leave a Positive Impression!" by Debra Fine available. Editorial Reviews. From Publishers Weekly. Would-be social butterflies will get encouragement site Store · site eBooks · Business & Money. Then it's time you mastered The Fine Art of Small Talk. millions of other books are available for instant access. view site eBook | view Audible audiobook.
Usually, when we experience what we think of as an "awkward silence," it is right after we have said something to someone we don't know, and they do not immediately respond. A strange silence hovers in the air, and we feel as though we could sink into our shoes.
We feel sure we have said something terrible, even though we have no idea what it might have been - but the cold silence we are receiving is devastating. In the space of just a few seconds, a "cat and mouse" game is being played out.
Normally, the person asking the question controls the direction of the conversation. But just as soon as the person being asked the question responds with silence, that control is wrenched away from the person asking the question, and he is put on the defensive. This is the moment when the control shifts from the one asking the question, to the person who is expected to respond, but does not. The questioner almost always automatically assumes that they are at fault, and feels extremely vulnerable.
But the important thing to keep in mind is that you asked a question, but did not receive an answer, and why do you suppose that happened? If you examine what has just transpired, it is that you have said something that normally would have elicited a response.
You expected a response, and yet no response has been forthcoming - only dead silence.
This is completely unexpected, and catches you totally flat-footed! But this didn't happen because you said something that was embarrassing, or out of line. This happened because the person you were addressing was not capable of responding to your question or comment.
Don't you get it?
The Fine Art of Small Talk: How to Start a Conversation, Keep It Going, Build Networking Skills…
You spoke to him, expecting a reply, but you might as well have been speaking a foreign language, because all you got from him was a hard glare, and total silence.
He can't function. He can't respond to your comment or question, no matter what it is. He's not being rude - although that's the impression you get - he just can't do any better. To answer your comment or question would have required him to have come up with a stream-of-consciousness reply, explaining his opinion and the reasoning behind his answers, but his mental condition will not permit him to do so. And so he says nothing.
Hence, the "awkward silence. And it's all your fault. But it's not your fault at all. In fact, you are the true victim here.
Actually, though, you are not really a victim, since you do not have a mental issue. You are merely the unfortunate recipient of circumstance. The biggest and most important lesson to learn from all of this is simply to not be shocked or surprised.
Even though most of us definitely are surprised when this sort of thing happens, the main thing is just to be aware that this condition definitely does exist in the world, and we could very well find ourselves confronted with this scenario again, at some point in the future, and to not let it confound us, and make us doubt ourselves. We feel a sense of personal responsibility whenever the dreaded "awkward silence" occurs, but it is not our fault, at all.
When you receive silence as a response to a question or comment you make, it is not possible to salvage any sensible outcome from the exchange, because an exchange never actually happened in the first place. Any comment or question deserves a response, and lacking that response, there is actually nothing to say, except to frankly, walk away. But realizing that we are not at fault is the first requirement in calming our fears about being inadequate in socializing with others.
The point is that the problems that other people have are also projected onto us, insofar as we are continually interacting with other people every day, and have to suffer through whatever might ensue, once we are locked into an attempt to converse with them. Even though anyone suffering from this condition certainly deserves compassion, once we realize that this is the case, it is futile to continue to attempt to have any sort of meaningful conversation, as sad as that is to realize.
And so, nothing has been resolved; the whole conversation is just left hanging, with no closure, but you are obviously at the end of the encounter, and you are left to just sort of saunter away, in some other direction. This is actually separate and apart from the very real problem that many people have about making small talk at social gatherings. It is not easy, for many people. Much of it is due to a lack of self-confidence, which can't be easily cured with a few well-practiced sentences, or lines from a book.
But that lack of confidence is only exacerbated when we, in all innocence and sincerity, approach someone and ask them a question, only to be met with a wall of silence. This serves to shatter any feelings of competence we might have in being out in the great social wilderness, but it happens all the time, and contributes in no small part to the feelings we may have about being shy when meeting new people.
If we can understand that the problem is not because of any shyness we may have, but actually because of the inability of the person we are attempting to converse with to respond, our fears will disappear. Confidence only comes with experience. Sometimes, being out in the social jungle is like a soldier negotiating a mine field: There is disaster almost anywhere you step. But even beyond the normal travails that present themselves at social gatherings, in trying to mix and mingle, we find that very often we are attempting to have a conversation, and trying to put our most charming foot forward, with someone who has no ability to reciprocate.
Meaning that they can't speak, almost at all, beyond a three or four word sentence. And even that won't necessarily relate to whatever you may have just said. The net result of this is that we come away confused, and at a complete loss to understand, and think of it as somehow being all our own fault.
What is so devastating to our ego is that we interpret their actions as rejection. But it is actually an inability on their part to formulate any sort of response, due to an unfortunate mental block. The point is that in meeting this totally unexpected silence in attempting to have a conversation with someone, is not in any way an indication that you have any sort of "shyness" problem, but only indicates that you are attempting to converse with someone who is not able to reciprocate.
This invariably comes as a total surprise, and leaves us momentarily stunned, and unable to think of anything to say. What it all boils down to is that we can very easily be blind-sided into assuming that someone who appears to be completely normal actually is normal, and capable of interacting normally in social events. But we often find that the book's cover does not accurately reflect the book's content. Slowly, comes the dawn: We finally begin to realize that we actually don't have any problem at all in talking to other people, but that there are people who we attempt to talk to who simply can't reciprocate, and it's not our fault at all.
If someone can't as much as answer your question, we really don't have anything to respond to, do we? To actually witness something as profoundly troubling as this is, and to realize that this person has no chance whatsoever, to simply experience the joy of having one-on-one conversation, such as most of us take for granted every day of our life, is tragic.
They are relegated to virtual silence - although they may very well talk with family or friends, who are aware of their condition. Just to satisfy your own mind, and to prove to yourself that everything I have just said is true, all you need to do is make a few additional attempts to converse with this person, and you will invariably receive the same evasive response.
Maybe not immediately, but if it's someone you are apt to come in contact with again in the future, you will have an opportunity to test it out. But this time you won't be caught so completely unprepared. It can't be stated emphatically enough that your own mental health is precious, and needs to be safeguarded at all times, to the best of your ability.
It is very difficult to imagine the harm to our psyche that can be caused by a seemingly innocent social contact. The big thing to remember is that all of this disruption was created, almost always, by one individual. If we can get over the idea that we have some sort of problem, and realize that one person caused all the confusion, and that we have virtually no trouble getting along with the vast majority of other people we come in contact with, we will feel very comfortable in our own skin, and have perfectly good relationships with almost everybody we meet.
But what is so astonishing about this is that they often seem for all the world to be a completely normal person, sometimes even appearing to be someone with above-average intelligence. This can only serve to further complicate our sometimes already shaky faith in our own social abilities, which is extremely unfortunate, since it is all so unnecessary. Did you ever stop to think of just what the difference is between talking to people you know, versus someone you've just met? With your friends, you know what to expect.
You know that they are capable of communicating, and will answer your questions easily.
But a stranger is an unknown quantity: You have no assurance that they will respond appropriately to anything you say. And in fact, when they do not respond to an overture you may have made, you feel that you must have said something wrong, or they would have responded in the way you expected. What you don't realize is that they are not able to respond appropriately. In fact, they can't respond at all. By contrast, if someone is "easy to talk to," even though we may have just met them, they seem as comfortable as an old friend.
And so, we attach all the wrong reasons to things that happen, and tend to blame ourselves.
The Fine Art Of Small Talk
Perhaps the most important lesson to be learned about getting along in public conversation, and even with people you think you know, is that looks can be very deceiving. Somebody may look for all the world to be just a regular, average Joe or Jane, but until you determine that they can actually carry on a conversation, you simply do not know for sure.
But it is relatively easy to find out: Just asking a few tentative questions, to see how they respond, and whether they can actually even converse at all, is all it takes. If they seem voluble and glib, at least you know they can speak.
It doesn't even matter what the question is about: You're just looking to see how much they are able to talk.
You don't have to mentally prepare any dialog in your head; just any thought that comes to mind will suffice. Most conversations start out with the most mundane of comments, and build from there, if there is in fact any conversation to be made from it. But you must be prepared to discover that you might not get any sort of answer that makes any sense, and that is the purpose of asking the question in the first place.
Actually, every conversation boils down to simply asking a question, and answering a question. It's not rocket science. People have been doing it for thousands of years. If you can't ask someone a question, and be able to count on them answering your question to your satisfaction, then there is definitely a problem, but the problem is not with you. One word of caution: If you should happen to find yourself involved in a social organization where you encounter frequent and multiple examples of what I have just described, you must realize that you are outnumbered, and you are in jeopardy of harm to your own sanity.
This is not an exaggeration. Whether you remain involved is your decision, but I can tell you, it's not worth it. You may enjoy this I was shocked at how poorly executed this book was considering the high rating. No serious profesiobal in a networking setting would ever attempt the majority of the techniques proposed in this book.
I've been in sales for most of my professional life but have actually learned from this book.
I bought it for a family member who has benefited as well. Small talk and connecting with others is, I believe, a basic skill that everyone should learn by young adulthood. Sadly, with today's technology obsessions, it's a skill that is dying out. This useful and concise book contains entertaining anecdotes, elements and suggestions that are immediately actionable, confidence builders and lists of topics and questions that can be used to get a conversation started.
It covers everything from networking events to dating - airports and air time. It is a good book, a useful resource, and was an insightful read. If you want to learn how to meet and get to know interesting people and potentially valuable friends, this is the book for you.
It all starts with saying hi and doing a little small talk, but the author follows through to developing relationships to some extent. If you sit in the corner during a fun party because you don't know anyone, you can really this sort of medicine, but even the most gregarious of us is likely to have a potentially life changing experience.
Get this book, y'all.
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DPReview Digital Photography. Then, I would recommend The Charisma Myth. Unlike the other books in this list, this one is written biography-form. In other words, the book is all about anecdotes and not about step-by-step techniques.
You want in-depth advice. You want a quick read.
Do download this book if… You want the best foundations for not only conversations but for social life in general Do NOT download this book if… You want something that focuses only on conversations. I recommend this book for this. Please note that while there is a chapter specifically on how to talk to people, this book covers much more than making conversation.
Ebook The Fine Art of Small Talk: How to Start a Conversation, Keep It Going, Build Networking
Do download this book if… You want to be more charismatic in your conversations If you want a holistic view on social interaction Do NOT download this book if… You want something specifically about making conversations You want to learn the basics first 4.
My Adventures in the Art and Science Author: Alan Alda This is a classic on being a better communicator In other words, this is NOT about the basics of conversation, strategies for avoiding awkward silence, and so on It DOES cover how to be a better listener, how to avoid misunderstandings, building rapport, and having hard conversations Do download this book if… You want to be better at communicating.
If so, this is the gold standard. You want to be better at small talk and everyday conversation.
Be aware that it seems geared for men who want to talk to women. It presents 92 tips for making conversation. Most of the advice is business focused. Do download this book if… You like the format of a long list of tips.
You are looking for something business-focused. Do NOT download this book if… You want something in-depth You are looking for advice on how to make conversation outside of work You want to learn how to build closer relationships 4.
Honorary mentions site Crucial Conversations Tools for Talking When Stakes Are High Also a great book and a classic, but focused on debates, job interviews, and negotiations. Emotional Intelligence 2.Share your thoughts with other customers.
Investing For Dummies. Just to satisfy your own mind, and to prove to yourself that everything I have just said is true, all you need to do is make a few additional attempts to converse with this person, and you will invariably receive the same evasive response.
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