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    In this episode of the MGMA Insights podcast, host Daniel Williams sits down with small talk expert and author Deborah Fine as they discuss her transformation from introverted engineer to communication skills coach. Debra shares her experiences in developing her skills along with some practical advice for effectively navigating social interactions in personal and professional settings. They also discuss updates made to her book The Fine Art of Small Talk.

    Key Takeaways: 

    -Small talk is important for developing relationships both personally and professionally. It acts as an "appetizer" to get to know someone.

    -People should assume the burden of making others feel comfortable in conversations by asking questions, showing interest and finding common ground.

    -Ask open-ended questions and be a good listener to avoid mundane small talk and truly learn about the other person.

    -Gracefully exit boring conversations when needed by using strategies like mentioning the need to greet someone else.

    -Be mindful of word choices to avoid putting one's foot in their mouth or bringing up sensitive topics inappropriately.

    -Find ways to stay regularly connected with family and friends, even if just through brief daily check-ins like playing Wordle together.

    -An updated edition of The Fine Art of Small Talk features two new chapters that cover political conversations and managing conversations around loss.

    Sources and Resources:

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    Let us know if there's a topic you want us to cover or an expert you would like us to interview or if you'd like to appear on the member spotlight podcast. Email us at If you have a question for our Sr Advisor Cristy Good, email

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