Author: Debra Fine
|The Fine Art of Small Talk (1997) is the ultimate guide to improving your communication skills. The writer Debra Fine has shared her journey of becoming a good communicator to help us get lessons from it. Moreover, the book helps us understand that it’s not only important to start a conversation but also important to be a good listener.|
The book “The Fine Art of Small Talk” is written by Debra Fine who is an internationally recognized speaker and trainer. In her book, she has shared her journey of how she mastered the art of small talk. She was also a shy person who hesitates to initiate a conversation but later on, she worked on it and beat her introverted self.
We all become awkward when we have to start a conversation, especially with a stranger and it’s okay it’s normal. The book teaches us that we can overcome this as we are able to develop and improve our communication skills.
Sometimes our insecurities don’t let us communicate with others and we feel like nobody wants to talk to us or the other times we are extremely shy and we lack the courage to talk to someone even though we really want to. The author has great tips to start a conversation, keep it going, and be a good listener.
The Fine Art of Small Talk Key Points
Overcome the fear of rejection
If you come in conversation with your friends and ask them about your first impression of you. I’m pretty much sure they will say “I used to think you don’t want to talk or you are arrogant”.
So, it’s obvious that when you don’t start a conversation, people might think of you as a rude person. And on the other hand, we hesitate to start a conversation because of the fear of rejection and we think that the other person won’t like to talk to us.
But it’s not true. It’s just in our head and we need to beat this in order to improve our communication skills. Be positive and be the one to initiate a conversation. Make eye contact and smile to help with this. First, make an introduction and extend your hand for a handshake. Request their name and keep it in mind. If you’re afraid, practice first. It may appear strange, but it will be quite beneficial.
Furthermore, refusing to speak to someone may make you appear pretentious or haughty. A senior vice president of a renowned corporation, in the author’s experience, was frequently present at many of the same events as she was. Despite the fact that Debra was aware of him, she remained silent out of fear. She had to call him later to pitch a sale, which he turned down because she ignored him every time, they passed each other.
Make a list of questions beforehand to keep the conversation alive
The next thing that the book teaches us is that not only starting a conversation is not important but keeping it alive is also important. For that, the author gives us a tip to make a list of questions beforehand so that you know what to ask someone.
Moreover, keep in mind to not ask dead-end questions which only have the answers like “yes” or “no”. Continue with deeper queries that can lead to a much larger topic. Make sure they know you’re genuinely interested in what they have to say, and give them the freedom to speak as much as they want. Besides this, asking personal questions or questions that can lead to controversies is also not recommended especially when you are meeting someone for the first time.
For asking questions, we can use the FORM acronym which means asking questions about your family, occupation, recreation, and miscellaneous topics. Inevitably, there may be times throughout a conversation when no excellent FORM questions can be asked. When this occurs, look around for hints as to what questions to ask next. Look about you, at what people are wearing, or at the intricacies of the event you’re attending.
Be a good listener
Last but not the least, try to be a good listener when having a conversation with anyone. Make them feel heard because people love those who listens to them. Just starting a conversation and keeping it alive is not important, sometimes being a good listener is also important.
Additionally, demonstrate that you are paying attention. You must make your conversation partner feel as if they have been heard. You can do this using both verbal and nonverbal cues, such as follow-up inquiries about a specific detail of the tale or enthusiastic comments, as well as your body language. Keep an eye on your body language. Don’t fidget, slouch your shoulders, or cross your arms. Maintain eye contact, nod, smile, and perhaps lean in slightly instead. Do not interrupt while someone is talking as it is against the manners but instead ask the follow-up questions when the other person stops talking.
In this way, another person will get a feeling that you are listening to them and it will help in building a real connection. This is also an integral part of improving your communication skills.
Who would I recommend The Fine Art of Small Talk book to?
The Fine Art of Small Talk is recommended to all introverts who avoid initiating a conversation or struggle to be in crowded people full of strangers. Moreover, a university student who struggles to give a presentation needs to read this book.