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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!

By Debra Fine
13-minute read
Audio available
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

The Fine Art of Small Talk (2005) offers practical advice for cultivating conversation skills. Drawing on anecdotes from the author’s own journey to becoming a confident small-talker, these blinks will teach you how to initiate, sustain and exit conversations with ease and grace.

  • Professionals looking to sharpen their networking skills
  • Introverts seeking confidence in social situations
  • Parents who want to strengthen their relationships with their children

Debra Fine is a best-selling author, keynote speaker and communications expert. As a member of the National Speakers Association, she has delivered coaching programs to companies including Google, Credit Suisse and Procter & Gamble for over two decades. Debra has appeared on CNN, The Today Show and NPR’s Morning Edition, and she contributes regularly to HuffPost.

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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!

By Debra Fine
  • Read in 13 minutes
  • Audio & text available
  • Contains 8 key ideas
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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! by Debra Fine
Synopsis

The Fine Art of Small Talk (2005) offers practical advice for cultivating conversation skills. Drawing on anecdotes from the author’s own journey to becoming a confident small-talker, these blinks will teach you how to initiate, sustain and exit conversations with ease and grace.

Key idea 1 of 8

Small talk is a skill that can be learned.

Shy people often think that since they weren’t born with naturally good communication skills, they’ll never have conversational clout. But small talk isn’t a biological trait or something we intuitively know. It’s time to put that idea aside and adopt a new understanding of small talk.

The bottom line is that small talk is a skill that can be learned. Sure, some people are naturally able to navigate social situations better than others. But most of us have to work to develop our conversation skills.

As a shy and overweight bookworm, the author eventually sought out a career in engineering, which involved little communication with others. When her job did entail attending meetings or conferences, she was filled with anxiety. In these situations, she would go into autopilot, attempting to converse with people by asking what their jobs were. This inevitably meant that every conversation dried up within a few minutes.

Around the time she was turning 40, she realized that her weight and negative self-image were holding her back. Then she and her husband divorced. Realizing that she needed to make some changes if she wanted to meet new people, she committed to taking care of her health and lost 65 pounds. Then she set off to cultivate social skills by observing and imitating successful conversationalists around her.

At a bar one night, her friend convinced her to approach a man who had exchanged glances with her but hadn’t approached her. The man, named Rex, was delighted when she introduced herself. Their conversation that night led to a close friendship. And in time, Rex revealed something surprising to her: he hadn’t approached her that night at the bar because he had been too shy!

Discovering both someone else’s insecurity and the fact that her friendship with Rex wouldn’t have existed if she hadn’t made the uncharacteristic effort to approach him showed the author the power of small talk. From then on, she dedicated herself to mastering this skill and helping others do the same. Since then, her business, The Fine Art of Small Talk, has helped thousands of people learn conversation skills. By following the practical advice in the following blinks, you too can become an adept conversationalist.

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