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How to Work a Room

March 23, 2014

How to Work a RoomSusan RoAne

I was disappointed by this book’s formulaic suggestions for nearly every kind of social situation. I can understand why the critics of this book trashed it as being a guide for people who just want to fake interest in other people for personal gains. The author really made it seem like work to prepare to enter these situations. The level of readiness that she encouraged while reducing anxiety for the timid might just take the fun out of the experience.

The length of the book seems artificially inflated by the repeated detailed explanation of minor variations of core concepts. There are separate chapters for class reunions, business holiday parties, cocktail parties and other social situations. I would have preferred the book simply extract the themes and concepts and expound on their appropriate usages rather than explicitly applying them to very specific situations.

The topics that weren’t really developed as much as they should have been were these two words: charm and chutzpah. A very short chapter was titled with those two words, but developing on them would have been far more useful. The author pointed out many things in modern society that make us less courteous to each other, but missed the opportunity to suggest how to better manage common social courtesy in our modern, attention-splitting, time crunched world.

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