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517 of 526 people found the following review helpful
I am a pastor who has a gift of gab and a number of friends, some of them close. My sister (who is the ultimate friendly person) and I were raised by parents who knew how to converse well, so we picked up these skills in a natural setting. We are both real schmoozers. My wife is also highly relational. So, unlike many self-help book reviewers, I am reviewing from a different perspective: I did not read this book for personal growth reasons (I do read books on other subjects to address my weak spots, however), but to try to help instruct others who struggle here.
For many years, I have dealt with folks who wanted to learn to converse and make friends. When one is brought up with those skills, it becomes difficult to enumerate exactly what it is we talkers do. When I read, "How to Start a Conversation and Make Friends," I said to myself, "Yep. This is a lot of what we (and many other people strong in this area) do." Gabor has organized and put into outline form the most basic principles of conversation and friendship initiation. And that is a whole lot more helpful than saying, "I don't know. We just do it!"
Gabor also allows for differing personalities and relational styles. Although we may have to leave our comfort zone (in time, change becomes comfortable), we need to be who we are and converse with others based upon who they are.
Please understand that this book is limited in its scope. It can help people initiate friendships, but it does not direct one toward relational depth. This book can help folks make a number of casual friends but not necessarily close friends. For deeper communication, I suggest William Backus' book, "Telling Each Other the Truth," a volume that addresses matters like conflict resolution, honesty, etc. Gabor's book is not really intended to guide you into relational depth. It does a great job for its intent: helping you chat better and initiate the early stages of friendship. For some folks, their instincts may kick in at that point. Others will need to study further.
The other limitation of this book (and there is no way to avoid it) is that the directives can be overwhelming because of their sheer volume. My advice is to choose a few areas to work on. Once those practices are incorporated and become second nature, then it is time to add a few more. In a sense, the book is arranged in order of importance, with the early chapters being the most crucial to master. I recommend starting at the beginning.
In addition to Gabor's insights, I suggest hanging around and imitating those who seem to have it together in these departments. There is nothing quite like seeing conversation in action and then telling oneself to "go and do likewise." It may seem awkward at first, but, in time, it can become second nature. Some folks (who have difficulty choosing the right words) might even consider practicing a conversation in an empty room, almost memorizing a script.
On quotable section reads, "Most shy people take the passive role when it comes to starting conversation. They wait and wait and wait, hoping someone will come along and start a conversation with them..."
He emphasizes that communication consists mostly of body language, then tone or voice, and, lastly, words.
Here is some simplistic but crucial advice, "Use plenty of eye contact, smile, and, above all, keep your arms uncrossed and your hands away from your face."
The book consists of 15 chapters divided into 4 sections. The sections are: Starting Your Conversation with Confidence. Continuing Your Conversation with Wit and Charm, Ending Your Conversation with a Great Impression, and Boosting Your Conversation to the Next Level.
The last chapter lists his 50 main points, some of which include, "Be the first to say hello, Introduce yourself to others, Show others you are listening by restating their comments, and Beware of open and closed body language."
This book is not rocket science (though filled with details), but it is a good place to start. Although I consider myself strong in the conversation department, I admit that I did pick up a pointer or two. Go for it.
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213 of 218 people found the following review helpful
on June 8, 2003
Now before anyone can change how they are they have to accept they have a problem and to really want to change it. Once I realized that I had few friends and I had trouble commmunicating with others I went on a journey to find help. I found help in this book.
"How To Start A Conversation And Make Friends" explains all of the simple things which can be done to have an outstanding effect on your relationships. With this book you learn how to master the art of conversation. By doing this you get to have more friends and better friends. People will like you more and you will find people you like.
I noticed that I was being a much better conversationalist after reading the first few chapters! The book is very easy to understand and I flew right through it. Although it is easy to understand it has a lot of info so you have to pay attention to every tidbit. I reviewed a few chapters cause I felt I may have missed something important. When reading the book I found myself saying "Why didn't I think of that?". Everything just seems so logical. We have so many opportunities we just miss and we make people think we don't want to talk and we fail to see how foolish we are. Who would have thought that a smile, a nod of the head, and having open arms would make people approach you! Its so simple and yet we fail to do it. Why didn't I learn this in school?
I often feel like I am talking too much about myself. I will ask questions to show interest for other people, but I still feel like I am being egocentric when the conversation ball is in my hand and I am talking about myself. I don't think the book addressed this..
Regardless of the fact that it did not address everyting I highly reccommend this book to anyone who often finds themself at a loss for words, feels uncomfortable while talking, is shy, or just wants to have better conversations. Buy the book and refrence it when you feel that your conversations have problems.
Reading this book completely changed my life. I have more friends and I feel better about the friends I have. They seem to like me more and I am learning a lot about them which I like.
tip: You can view the first two chapters of this book on amazon.com for free just go to the picture of the cover and click "look inside". I bet you that these two chapters are enough to make you want to read the book and even be a better conversationalist! If you didn't get anything out of reading these two chapters then I would guess this book is not for you.
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49 of 51 people found the following review helpful
on November 26, 2000
I bought this book based on the recommendations I read here and I was not disappointed. The book is easy to read and I finished it within an hour. After reading it I can definitely say that it provided me with some tips on improving my conversation skills. I found the section on how to start conversations very useful. The book also covers how to become more receptive, how to keep a conversation going, how to keep a balance between talking and listening and also gives ideas on how to meet friends.
One concept the book does not cover is how to deal with folks who interrupt you. At my workplace, it is common for 2 or 3 people - at a meeting - to continually interrupt me or whoever is talking and provide their input. At times you can have several different communication threads going on because of this. The book also does not cover how the tone of your voice can effect your communication. If you speak to softly or with a monotone voice, others can find you boring. Overall, this book is a great starter book.
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36 of 38 people found the following review helpful
on November 24, 2005
This book is an example of how easy it is for people to get into deep conversation simply by being polite and saying hi. Don's advice probably won't help those who need a little more help chatting up a storm. This book does not deal with how to surmount communicational obstacles except for language differences. The book is geared towards the socially groomed person who just needs a tad push into social situations; when to smile and shake hands. This book makes a great starter for explaining the beginning mechanics of conversation, nothing too deep.
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36 of 41 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon January 21, 2001
I liked this book except that it was a bit "namby-pamby-ish" in some of the advice given. For example, if you meet someone who belittles you or your accomplishments the author suggests you accept this for the sake of conversation. I for one, am looking for friends, but don't want a friend who puts me down. Also, the author insists on using the politically correct "she" pronoun instead of the standard "he", which is annoying. No real advice is given to help the reader overcome shyness. I also found some of the chapters difficult to follow (maybe it's the way I read, but "Conversationally Speaking" is a better written book).
Other then that the book has alot of useful advice.
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102 of 124 people found the following review helpful
on July 5, 2005
I read this book at the local Barnes & Nobles. I thougt I was getting something out of it because the ideas the author was talking about sounds very interesting.

I was greatly disappointed because throughout the entire book, I found no actual example of dialogues, NONE. It's like saying "BE frindly at first every you meet a person" and it does not tell you how to be friendly nor any example of conversation.

Don't waste your money, I recommend this one instead:

Conversationally Speaking : Tested New Ways to Increase Your Personal and Social Effectiveness

by Alan Garner

Thanks for reading
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29 of 33 people found the following review helpful
on January 15, 2006
This is a good book to start from if you have recognized, like myself, that your conversation skills could use some improvement.

It goes over a lot of basics, some of which is very helpful, but also a lot of what you could find by just a simple Google search. You will come across some nuggest of wisdome such as: You will rarely be able communicate with someone about important ideas, unless you first go through the motions of "ritual questions" to establish rapport and trust. I know this is one area that I always had problems with. However, some parts of the book just made me roll my eyes , like the sample "real life" conversations and some of the suggested opening questions.

All in all, worth reading, because it is a very quick and easy read, at a reasonable price. However, for a much more valuable and substantial advice I recommend "How to Win Friends and Influence People" by Dale Carnegie.
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37 of 43 people found the following review helpful
on September 5, 1999
This book gives you tips on what to do to start a conversation and be able to continue it. I have tried most of the suggestions and they work good. You should buy this book if you don't feel confortable talking to others.
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
on June 14, 2005
This book is about how to carry on a conversation with someone--what to say after you say, "Hello." In fact, even how to say, "Hello."

Although the author does not state that the purpose of the book is how to find a date, a lot of the illustrations are along these lines. But, the principles elaborated upon are useful for all types of relationships and circumstances.

The book is a very fast and easy read. It is organized by topic with key points and sub-topics in large bold font. Accordingly, this makes it quick and easy to find the information that is of value to you. You can gloss over or skip those topics of less interest without concern of missing an important point.

I would recommend this book to anyone who finds it difficult to start or maintain a conversation.
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18 of 20 people found the following review helpful
on January 27, 2000
I began to overcome my shyness thanks to the reading of 2 other books, written by Barbara Powell and Phillip Zimbardo. These 2 books helped me to improve a lot my thoughts and attitudes, the starting point. They also gave me some very good orientations on social behavior, but not many.
This book of Don Gabor fullfilled this lacuna. The author presents very good and fundamental advices, objectively, clearly and with good reasons for all of them. I am very satisfied in my practice of them.
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