WHAT TO SAY WHEN YOU DON'T KNOW WHAT TO SAY by Alice Fleming

WHAT TO SAY WHEN YOU DON'T KNOW WHAT TO SAY

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KIRKUS REVIEW

Psychologists, says Fleming, have a name for it: social anxiety. Attacks occur on entering a room full of strangers, on having to make a speech, and in similar situations. Few if any teenagers are immune to attacks; the question is whether a book of this sort can ease them. Fleming covers every occasion from behavior at a formal dinner (don't reach) to how to ask for a date--or turn one down--to how to overcome mumbling, word swallowing, and other poor speech habits. The book abounds in celebrity anecdotes, either for emulation (in interviews, behave as Sandra Day O'Connor did before the Senate confirmation committee) or as assurance that you are not alone. (Offstage, Johnny Carson is so ill at ease that he rarely goes to parties; when he does go he comes late, leaves early, and says little. This should reassure the ordinary wallflower?) There is a sensible quote from Erich Fromm to the effect that our psychic task is not to feel secure but to tolerate insecurity--and a corny one from the musical Annie: ""You're Never Fully Dressed Without a Smile."" Very possibly some ill-at-ease party-goer or public speaker might latch on to a particular tip or two in sheer desperation; but for the most part this is a mixture of the obvious but easier-said-than-done (don't be afraid to say ""count me out"" when the gang goes dragracing or shoplifting) and the hopelessly square. (In most teen groups, a pathetic conversation opener such as ""I see you're wearing running shoes. Do you run?"" just opens the asker to a response like ""Only away from creeps like you."")

Pub Date: Sept. 8th, 1982
Publisher: Scribners