Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “The Art of Civilized Conversation: A Guide to Expressing Yourself With Style and Grace” as Want to Read:
The Art of Civilized Conversation: A Guide to Expressing Yourself With Style and Grace
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

The Art of Civilized Conversation: A Guide to Expressing Yourself With Style and Grace

3.58  ·  Rating Details ·  365 Ratings  ·  63 Reviews
Say It with Style

In our fast-paced, electronic society, the most basic social interaction—talking face-to-face—can be a challenge for even the most educated and self-assured individuals. And yet making conversation is a highly practical skill: those who do it well shine at networking parties, interviews, and business lunches. Good conversation also opens doors to a happier
...more
ebook, 240 pages
Published December 18th 2007 by Broadway Books (first published 2005)
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about The Art of Civilized Conversation, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about The Art of Civilized Conversation

This book is not yet featured on Listopia. Add this book to your favorite list »

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  Rating Details
Amy
Feb 19, 2010 Amy rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Holly gave me this book. We don't come from families who are talented in this area!

I learned some things I do well already and others I can work on. So many conversations came to mind while reading this, mainly others who were attentive to me or where I made a solid connection.

So often, our entertainment culture works against the idea that we should converse civilly. When the banter gets too sassy in my house, my scold is usually something like, "Hey, we don't talk to one another like TV and mov
...more
Susan
Sep 03, 2008 Susan rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
With chapters such as "Rescue Conversations from Blunders", this book is about as practical as it can get.

Best tip, from a section titled "How To Respond When Someone Insults You On Purpose":

"You seem unhappy enough to risk really offending me."
L.r.
Jul 08, 2009 L.r. rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I read this book three years ago. I found it while cleaning house last month. I read it again quickly. This book is very good at providing basics in polite conversation. I do not agree with everything it advises, but the generalities are solid. I wish the author had a firm editor who did not allow grammar and sentence structure mistakes. That always distracts me from the subject. But I recommed this book to people who feel awkward in public, and when in diificult situations such as at funerals. ...more
Roxanne
I read this book a little over a year ago, and at the time I read it, I really looked forward to putting some of these skills to use in the real world. As someone who isn't necessarily a natural at the art of conversation, I found this book to be full of helpful tools to facilitate basic social interactions and then some. I've found myself attending many holiday parties this month, and I have made a conscious note to remember some of the conversation basics presented in this book before I went o ...more
charlie
Dec 29, 2014 charlie rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
My 9-year old daughter bought me this as a gift because she knew I read a lot of non-fiction.

My guess is that she was inspired by my absolute love of the Munro Leaf picture books Manners Can Be Fun and How To Talk Politely which I highly recommend for all ages!

On the other hand, this obvious common-sense manual of humorless idiocy will not receive the same reverence.

Although, since it was one of the sweetest gifts ever from my daughter, it gets 5 stars in my heart. I love you, Kika! I'm glad you
...more
Charity
Dec 12, 2008 Charity rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book gives good examples of ideal and less than ideal conversation habits. The author illustrates how enriching communication can be and how important it is to treat everyone with respect. Although I am sure my conversation skills will not change overnight, I now have a good foundation to start from.
Samantha Penrose
While the book offers some great tips for polishing up your formal conversations, the author insists that all conversations, even between friends, be almost completely devoid of strong opinions. "The temperate zone," the author calls it. It all sounds too sterile and lackluster for my taste.
Useful only if you are forced to hobnob with acquaintances frequently.
Tess
Jan 31, 2011 Tess rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: etiquette
Good, clear, and correct. Makes you think about things in more detail and consider the comfort of others, which, if you're as typically selfish as I am, is fantastic. It's more of a reference book than a good read, though. It put me to sleep a few times.
Alyssa
Simple, to-the-point information and review on all different kinds of conversation and how to be good at it. This is the kind of book you'd read for a course on etiquette. I really enjoyed reading this! Several parts had me laughing too :-)
Kelly
Oct 07, 2010 Kelly rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: self-improvement
Clear, helpful advice for the conversationally awkward. Bonus: she even quotes Eldridge Cleaver.
Jenn
Feb 26, 2011 Jenn rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: etiquette
This is another great, short book packed full of information. Interestingly - last night I had two of my most chatty friends over. One of these friends has been described by a mutual friend as having an aversion to still air and this friend does talk incessantly. I talk a lot but not as much as she - and the other friend is a fount of information but also ceaselessly talks. At dinner, my friend said "Gee, he sure is nice but he sure talks a lot" - to which I responded "Hello, Pot? This is kettle ...more
Ty
Jun 25, 2012 Ty rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I read most of this little book in a day. It wasn't what I thought it was going to be.

What I thought it was going to be was an interesting examination of how to have deeper, more fulfilling conversations. Tips and advice, anthropological and anecdotal which could enliven most conversations in most circumstances with most people.

What it actually is is a manners guide thinly disguised as a book about conversation, and not a particularly good one at that.

Much of it is common sense. Don't start a co
...more
Ariane
Dec 22, 2011 Ariane rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
The book was not bad. I don't think that it was uber helpful because most of what was said was common sense: don't take advantage of people; ask questions and listen to the answers; don't focus on appearances, etc.

The author does offer some clever advice for coming up with conversation starters: "rub two cliches together ." A great example of this would be, "Cold enough for you? and Nice coat equals: That's a beautiful color you've got on; it warms me up just to look at it!" (25)

The 6th and 8th
...more
David Carver
Feb 27, 2013 David Carver rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nonfiction
An informative and mostly helpful primer on how to initiate, read, and improve one's conversations. While the average reader could come up with much of Shepherd's advice through application of common sense and the Golden Rule, the book offers many specific tips that would be hard to find elsewhere - for instance, Shepherd's quip that judging in a conversation - even when both speakers agree - has "big risks and small gains." In a perfect world, this book would have included longer examples of co ...more
Blanca
Jun 10, 2007 Blanca rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: connoiseurs of etiquette manuals
Shelves: etiquette
I'll admit I'm a sucker for etiquette books with nice covers. The power blue cover on fine stock paper made me associate this book to getting something from Tiffany's. I was giddy to open it up and see what was in store. That's considering I don't even like diamonds or care for Tiffany's. This little tome's pearls of wisdom imparted to the reader provides how to segue into a graceful conversation as well as depart the conversation with style and grace. It pretty much reminds you that to be an ar ...more
A.
Oct 02, 2008 A. rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is not quite as good as Dale Carnegie or Miss Manners (although it's basically the offspring of their philosophies), but very useful, concise, and to the point. The BEST part is the last chapter on how to talk to children (a horribly underdeveloped skill in our world of worlds), the elderly, and people who have dementia or Alzheimer's, and even the comatose (literally, not figuratively).

It also includes handy little sidebars on the various kinds of difficult conversational personalities, s
...more
Cat
Aug 30, 2015 Cat rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
A straightforward guide for the basics in terms of etiquette for conversation.
A good starting point for anyone interested in sharpening up their manners/tactfulness.

It's easy to want to write off a lot of this book as "common sense," but I think we all have times when we deviate from it. What we think we already know and what we actually practice is not always in tune. It served as a simple reminder to keep what I say in check.

But if you go into this book looking for something more in-depth you
...more
Lisa
Jun 18, 2011 Lisa rated it liked it
I enjoyed reading it; it was a quick read. The book is basic, but that is what I was looking for...basic. There are examples used which were very weird and outdated. But to each's own. I'm sure somewhere these examples apply to someone.

This was the first book I read on my Kindle. Occasionally, words were pushed together, which was annoying. But the next two books I read with Kindle did not have that defect.

I enjoyed the quotes, which makes me want to read even more. A good book is one that does
...more
Dexter
Mar 15, 2015 Dexter rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Informative and practical advice. A vast majority of it I already knew, so it was good to reinforce this etiquette. The upside of this book are new flashes of wisdom here and there in the book that would just about benefit everyone if they were implemented. A good, refining read, although I wish a second edition would be written with an expansion of internet and electronic conversational etiquette, which the authors only touched upon lightly.
Bookworm
Oct 06, 2007 Bookworm rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Talkers & Listeners
I recently moved to a new city and have found myself in a lot of new networking situations. I've been trapped in some pretty dull conversations. I picked this book up in hopes that it would help me make more of these opportunities and to better connect with clients, coworkers, potential employers etc... Most of the book is common sense, but it was a good refresher and I picked up some tricks I'll try.
penny shima glanz
While I greatly enjoyed Shepherd's The Art of the Handwritten Note I unfortunately found this volume a chore to slog through. If you have ever been stuck in a conversation with me .. I'm sorry. I took this out from the library in a hope to help me find ways to have better conversations. Maybe it was just not the right week for me to read this, but I was not impressed and do not think it offered me anything of value.
thinh
Jul 29, 2012 thinh rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Terrific book, easy and clear to read, not overly critical or patronizing. Author Margaret Shepherd clearly pinpoints the traps and falls of rude conversation and aptly suggests remedies to that. So easy is it for us to be guilty of "taboo" behaviors and after reading this, I definitely monitored what and how I engage with others. This book is a worthwhile read, for everyone of all ages.
Kate
Mar 21, 2008 Kate rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A book to be soon on my 'reference' shelf, this is one of those books which an individual should read annually. It contains tips and pointers, warnings and taboos for all types of conversations. The best way to read this is possibly to pick a section and work on applying for a few weeks to make it a part of your conversational style. More people should read this book!
Susan
Apr 29, 2007 Susan rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: a former co-worker...
This is a poor man's Miss Manners, entirely lacking in her wit, charm, and grace. There are attempts at all of the above, but they fall flat. The book's information was extremely basic (don't be dull, don't be rude, don't interrupt), and isn't going to turn a bore into a charmer or a wallflower into a sparkler.
Jacqueline
Jul 29, 2014 Jacqueline rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I found some parts of this book a bit condescending and silly, but the sections near the end about conversations beyond cocktail parties (how to talk to someone much older or much younger than you, how to talk to someone who is terminally ill, how to talk to someone who has had a miscarriage) were really thoughtful.
Ferdi
Apr 28, 2011 Ferdi rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: human-behavior
Some very reasonable and easy to follow guidelines that I may use to greet new friends, embrace long lost friends, and best of all, this book may also be used as my new secret weapon to dish information, from anyone about anything.
Cheryl Chavez
Oct 19, 2016 Cheryl Chavez rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
If your looking to add refinement and sophistication to your conversation this is a great example of elegance and grace under any situation. I found it an insightful and easy read and purchased a copy for my own library so I can refer back to it when needed.
Morgan
Apr 24, 2010 Morgan rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
If only I'd read this book earlier in my life! I'll be reading it at least a few more times (in entirety or in part) to make up for lost time. The chapter on Shop Talk alone makes this book a must read.
Ashley (cnthrdlywt2bwz)
I need to learn how to converse well, in that I must constantly remind myself not to interrupt. This book will be another reminder. It looks cute and concise- a one day reader.

In the end, it served as a nice reference guide. Too much to really handle all at one time. A lot of common sense.
Randomboredom
May 05, 2008 Randomboredom rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was a fun read. If you know someone who is sort of socially awkward (not that I am) this is a great book for them to express themselves in public.

Wait, this was a gift from my mom. Maybe I am socially awkward and didn't know it.
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
  • Choosing Civility: The Twenty-five Rules of Considerate Conduct
  • The Fine Art of Small Talk: How To Start a Conversation, Keep It Going, Build Networking Skills -- and Leave a Positive Impression!
  • How to Be a Lady: A Contemporary Guide to Common Courtesy (A Gentlemanners Book)
  • Better than Beauty: A Guide to Charm
  • Conversationally Speaking: Tested New Ways to Increase Your Personal and Social Effectiveness
  • Things I Wish My Mother Had Told Me: Lessons In Grace And Elegance
  • Lifescripts
  • The Goddess Guide
  • How to Disagree Without Being Disagreeable
  • Miss Manners' Guide to Excruciatingly Correct Behavior
  • Overcoming Social Anxiety and Shyness (Overcoming)
  • The Fascinating Girl
  • The Shyness & Social Anxiety Workbook: Proven Techniques for Overcoming Your Fears
  • As a Lady Would Say: Responses to Life's Important (and Sometimes Awkward) Situations
  • A Guide to Elegance: For Every Woman Who Wants to Be Well and Properly Dressed on All Occasions
  • The Bombshell Manual of Style
  • City Chic: An Urban Girl's Guide to Livin' Large on Less
  • Etiquette: In Society, in Business, in Politics and at Home

Share This Book



“Conversation lets you be an artist every time you open your mouth--or shut it. As Robert Louis Stevenson said, "The most important art is to omit"; the key to being a master conversationalist is to listen at least as much as you talk. Just as the other arts include pauses in a dramatic play, white margins around printed text, and space between a singer's phrases, conversation is about silences as well as about words.” 3 likes
More quotes…