Summary of Captivate

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  • Applicable
  • Well Structured
  • Engaging


Behavioral researcher Vanessa Van Edwards believes that if you understand people better, you can more easily overcome your social anxieties. Her manual is organized in three parts. Part I discusses how to act when you meet someone so you can make a great first impression, as well as how to work a room and “spark” positive conversations. Part II explains how to read and understand other people’s “microexpressions,” personality traits and hidden values. Part III explores how to lead, build stronger connections and deal with difficult people. Van Edwards has great tips for nervous networkers and for those who want to nail the first five minutes of social interaction. Her hacks for starting and maintaining good relationships are useful, but they somewhat – at least, temporarily – elide the need for authenticity in building strong, long-term relationships. The book’s facial expression photos, flash cards, charts and lists enhance her lessons. getAbstract recommends this manual to anyone who occasionally feels awkward, to introverts who need a boost and to extroverts who want to strengthen their relationships.

About the Author

Vanessa Van Edwards is a researcher, speaker and writer specializing in people skills and interpersonal intelligence.  She runs Science of People, a behavior research lab where she studies charisma, influence and power body language.



“Win the Social Game”

Take control of social situations by playing to your strengths. Identify the locations – bars, restaurants, gyms, boardrooms, coffee shops, hiking trails, concerts, conference rooms – where you “thrive, survive” or feel “neutral.” Your thrive locations are anywhere you’re happy and comfortable. Survive locations make you unhappy, uncomfortable or bored. And you can either survive or thrive in neutral locations, depending on your mood and companions. Go to thrive locations, and avoid places where you merely survive.

Learn to work a room. Most gatherings share the same layout: a coat check and registration table at the front, a bar in the middle, food on the side and restrooms in the far corner. The host or boss is circulating, while groups of friends cluster. When you enter a room, mentally divide it into three zones: the “Start Zone,” the “Social Zone” and the “Side Zone.” The start zone is where people check their coats and register. Don’t approach people here, because they’re not ready to mingle. Avoid the side zone with its traps like restrooms, food and narrow passages between clusters of friends. People get warmed up and ready to talk in ...

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