The one sentence summary

There are some secrets of effective conversation that you can perfect.

WHAT THE BOOK SAYS talkability

  • This is all about what to say and how to say it, so you can get more from every conversation. It works through a number of talk essentials, and then offers 50 ways of saying things right.
  • Essential points:
  • The words you use determine your success in life, relationships, your job and in business.
  • iContact or eye contact: proper conversations are always better than using technology, or being distracted by it when talking.
  • Everything can be misunderstood:

“I know you believe you understand what you think I said, but I’m not sure that what you think you heard is what I meant.” Unknown

  • Paralinguistics looks at the melody and tone of what is said, not just the words. Paralanguage is vital to empathetic conversation.
  • Prosody is the rhythm, stress and intonation of speech.
  • Listen and silent are spelled with same letters: the rhythm of talking and listening is vital to effective communication.
  • The primacy-recency effect: we remember best the first item of information presented to us. We remember second best the information that comes last. So beginnings and endings are crucial.


  • Avoid closed questions that only require a yes or no answer: they kill conversation. Turn them into open ones that encourage discussion.
  • Tone down the uptalk – ending a statement with an upward inflection. It reduces your authority because it makes all your points sound like an uncertain question.
  • Interject, don’t interrupt: build on their comments in suitable gaps.
  • When you X, I feel Y, because Z. Thomas Gordon’s principle of ‘I’ messages relates to how you feel about a situation and any distress it may be causing. X = behaviour, Y = feeling and Z =consequence.
  • Don’t tell me about the white bear: telling people not to think of something makes them think of it.
  • “Try to pose for yourself this task: not to think of a polar bear, and you will see that the cursed thing will come to mind every minute.” Dostoevsky
  • A diplomat is someone who can tell you to go to hell in such a way that you actually look forward to the trip.


  • It contains a lot of good advice.