What goes through your mind when you’re invited to a party or networking event where you don’t know anyone, or when just you and a colleague both get to the Monday morning meeting five minutes early? If you answered dread or anxiety, you’re not alone.
Dreading small talk is totally normal, it can be awkward to attempt to fill the silence with random anecdotes and questions…but it doesn’t have to be boring and uncomfortable. In fact, many conversationalists will tell you that a couple of minutes of small talk is more than enough time to have a compelling conversation.
Whether you’re ready to put your social anxiety to bed and work on your mindset and skills required to have compelling conversations with those around you, or you’re just tired of defaulting to talking about the weather when faced with a few idle moments with a stranger, these compelling books will serve as your complete how-to guide to becoming a great conversationalist; someone engaging and confident who even complete strangers will love to talk to.
From the great Larry King to renowned psychologist Leil Lowndes, these are the only books you need to add to your reading list should you want to improve your ability to converse with those around you.
1. How to Talk to Anyone, Anytime, Anywhere: The Secrets of Good Communication by Larry King
The late Larry King will forever be remembered as one of the greatest conversationalists of our time. The iconic talk show host got nuggets of information out of the most conservative, tight-lipped celebrities due to his ability to break down the barriers and speak to anyone as if they were a friend.
His 1995 self-help book, How to Talk to Anyone, Anytime, Anywhere: The Secrets of Good Communication, might not make you into a late night talk show host… but it will help you master the art of breaking down barriers and getting to know just about anyone.
2. How to Talk to Anyone: 92 Little Tricks for Big Success in Relationships by Leil Lowndes
Looking for a walkthrough with real life examples to emulate? Psychologist Leil Lowndes breaks down exactly how to talk to anyone in her book, How to Talk to Anyone: 92 Little Tricks for Big Success in Relationships.
This compelling walkthrough will help equip you with tangible examples you can use whenever you’re faced with chatting up a stranger.
Better Small Talk: Talk to Anyone, Avoid Awkwardness, Generate Deep Conversations, and Make Real Friends by Patrick King
Whether you’re worried your social anxiety will get in the way of good conversation or you’re simply sick of being that person nobody really wants to chat with at a party or networking event, Better Small Talk by Patrick King takes it back to basics. This compelling read will help even the most socially anxious person break out of their shell and generate compelling conversations both personally and professionally.
3. 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
Looking for something that will help you become much better at networking? The Fine Art of Small Talk comes as a how-to guide that will help ensure everyone you meet will actually remember you—long after the networking event or party has come to a close.
Debra Fine’s account of small talk will take you through the entire anatomy of a conversation—from beginning to end.
4. Fierce Conversations: Achieving Success at Work and in Life One Conversation at a Time by Susan Scott
Have trouble getting your point across in a clear and concise manner? Fierce Conversations: Achieving Success at Work and in Life One Conversation at a Time will help turn that around.
Conversation expert Susan Scott takes readers through exactly how to handle strong emotions, increase clarity, and improve understanding on both sides of the narrative.
6. Crucial Conversations Tools for Talking When Stakes Are High by Kerry Patterson
Staying clear and concise in high stress situations is definitely not an easy task—even if you consider yourself to be an expert conversationalist.
In Crucial Conversations Tools for Talking When Stakes Are High, Kerry Patterson takes readers through how to prepare for high-stakes situations, make it safe to talk about even the most controversial topics, and how to transform hurt feelings or powerful emotions into fruitful dialogue.