"The Fine Art Of Small Talk" by Debra Fine

Review by Borodutch

If you feel awkward doing small talk, this book is for you. The author outlines all the basic things you need to know to become a master of small talk. The best thing is that it is not difficult and everyone can learn it! It's more like a muscle you exercise and then rip the benefits from.

Debra emphasizes that even though it is not customary to start meaningful conversations with strangers in the Western world, one should always try to. Then the author tells us about the power of remembering other people's names. Yes, it's easy to say, "Oh, I'm bad with names," but honestly, you mean, "Yeah, I don't care enough to remember your name." Make an effort to remember the names.

Ask open-ended questions instead of the ones that can be answered with "Good, you?" This allows us to bring a bit more meaning to the conversations. Then the author proceeds to give a variety of ice-breakers and templates for relatively good questions. She also proposes the acronym FORM to remember family, occupation, recreation, and miscellaneous.

Debra also points out the necessity of active listening. This happens when you don't get distracted by anything else, focusing on just the interlocutor. The best way to ensure the small talk partner that you are actively listening to them is through body language. Lean forward, nod, smile, etc.

Exiting the conversation gracefully is as crucial as the first impression. So come back to the topics you've discussed, no matter how good or bad the conversation went, thank the interlocutor — and ride your horse into that sunset!