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The Fine Art Of Small Talk Summary

Quote from The fine art of small talk by Debra Fine

Simple-Short-Summary: Debra Fine discloses strategies and techniques in her best-selling book, The Fine Art of Small Talk to prevent shaking knees, awkward silence, and sweaty palms in any conversations so that you can learn how to start a conversation with strangers, build rapport, and even exit from it in a graceful way.

The Fine Art Of Small Talk Summary

5 Min Read

In this book, you’ll learn four lessons:

Lesson: A – Communication is a skill that can be learned and fueled with small talk

Lesson: B – People enjoy interacting with each other thus make efforts to introduce yourself

Lesson: C – Use open-ended questions to know more about the speaker and make strong connections

Lesson: D – Surrounding Clues Can Refuel The Conversation Thus Pay Attention For Them

Lesson: A – Communication is a skill that can be learned and fueled with small talk

Shy people think they’ll never become good conversationalists as they’re not born with essential communication skills. The truth is small talks aren’t something you already know.

It’s something that you need to work upon and develop skills. Of course, a handful of people are excellent at communicating and navigating social situations better than anybody else’s.

Still, the majority of people need to change their viewpoint about small talks and develop an understanding of them.

Lesson: B – People enjoy interacting with each other thus make efforts to introduce yourself

Some people avoid talking with others because of fear of rejection, and this fear is the second biggest fear after public speaking. In fact, social anxiety stops you from starting a conversation with strangers.

However, to broaden your network, you need to take a risk, approach people you would like to interact with. For this, you need to free yourself from the fear of rejection so that you can gain confidence and talk to anyone.

Moreover, people will enjoy and appreciate you for making an effort to start a conversation with them. Especially introvert people will thank you for this.

Now, when it comes to choosing people to approach, try with people who are sitting idle or alone or with the one you’ve already met your eyes with. Once you pile up your confidence to approach someone, then starting a conversation becomes easy.

Generally, when you flash a smile to someone, they’ll also smile back at you. With this, you can say the initial step is to deliver a warm smile with brief eye contact.

The next step is to get familiar with your new acquaintance. Thus, introduce yourself by saying something like “Hi, my name is Rahul. Glad to meet you”, followed by a warm handshake.

There’re also times when you find yourself in a situation where you need to join a group around you. In these times, stand nearby to that group, show your interest to them and focus on the speaker.

Most of the time, either one or other people from the group get your attention and allow you to join it. Once you enter, introduce yourself to each other before you start talking and communicate your opinions.

Remember, it’s your choice to approach someone and talk to them in a social gathering, and introducing yourself to others is the best decision to broaden your network.

Lesson: C – Use open-ended questions to know more about the speaker and make strong connections

You can begin your communication with everyday inquiries, but the trouble with these questions is that they almost evoke a similar answer. For example, asking an individual “How was work today?” chances are you’ll receive the response something like “Good. How was yours?”

Due to this, the question like these lacks sincerity and even stops yourself from making a deeper connection with others. Thus to become a better communicator, you’ve to ask something more instead of everyday inquiries.

The best approach to start your conversation is with open-ended questions as these questions indicate another person that you’re interested in what they’re saying. Moreover, these questions empower you to know more about your speaker without sounding demanding.

To achieve this, your questions must be frame in a way that urges your speaker to describe more about the events. Questions like “What did you think about that movie?” will enable the partner to share descriptive information about the event.

Another example would be asking your child “how was school?” for which she normally replies with “Fine”. In this case, asking follow-up questions that could be “What class did she like?”, or “Why did she like that class?”, you’ll notice she’ll describe the event in a more descriptive manner and talk about things that show her interest.

Simply put, with small talk, you can know more about your child. There’ll be times when you’re on the opposite side. It means your friend or colleague may ask you, how is your weekend?

Now, instead of giving a short response, try to describe the event concisely. With this, you’ll set an example for the type of response you’re expecting from another side.

So, when you ask another party to describe his events, he would be far more likely to share his weekend as descriptive as possible.

It depends on you what you ask from the respondent, and you can even prepare a set of questions to initiate a conversation with strangers.

Choosing open-ended questions are as important as the reaction of your conversation partner. Thus, you must carefully pay attention to how your respondent is reacting to each question.

So, as you were inquiring about something personal to your respondent, and he switched the topic. It indicated that your respondent wasn’t interested in having a conversation on that topic.

Hence, prefer the topic that your partner wants to talk about.

Lesson: D – Surrounding Clues Can Refuel The Conversation Thus Pay Attention For Them

You might be aware of the awkward feelings in communication when you run out of topic. In these times, waiting for someone to say something, you’ll risk the conversation dying entirely.

One approach to fill this awkward silence is by asking another open-ended question. Doing this’ll also change the course of the conversation.

If you find yourself in a situation where you cannot come up with open-ended questions, then remember the abbreviation of FORM that indicates family, occupation, recreation, and miscellaneous.

In this, the starting three are self-understood while miscellaneous group allows you to become more creative. For example, asking a new friend about any books that he has been reading or asking a group of people how they’ve met with each other.

Sometimes, you might come up with questions that you think as per person history isn’t appropriate to ask at this moment. Hence, the best approach to keep the conversation going is to get help from the surrounding.

Here, you look for clues in the environment and the person you’re speaking with. These clues such as details about the function or the venue.

All these micro subjects give you a handful of topics to take your conversation in a new direction. But remember to avoid certain topics.

Topics like personal misfortunes or controversial issues because they leave a bad impression on your speaker about you. Furthermore, if you talk at an informal event, don’t ask specific questions about the job or family member.

As it’s possible asking about the person who is no more or the job that has already lost could slow down the communication. Thus, avoid such topics and ask basic questions which allow you to get details about the person’s life and the things that are going on in his life.



What Next?

Never Eat Alone Summary: What’s in it for me?

Lesson: A – Successful networkers aren’t selfish but loyal and generous.

Lesson: B – Good networkers search for shared interest to build connection.

Lesson: C – Good Networkers have pleasant talk and include a unique message in every conversation.

Lesson: D – Creating a plan to achieve your goals and build networks.

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