In the interest of nothing in particular, I’ve been considering for a while a scale for the rating of small talk ability. For your reading pleasure, and future use: It is here presented.
Note: If you happen to be 1-4 on the scale below, it’s probably best not to mention this scale to others. If you’re 8-10, go ahead.
Note 2: If you’re wondering ‘why’ or ‘WTF’? It’s because I was reminded of a conversation at uni, many years ago, where someone (a 2) asked me “how do you small talk?” I don’t have THAT answer yet.
- out of 10. Useless: The most basic of conversations confuse and dismay. An example might be a chronic inability to respond to a shop keepers pleasantries when purchasing one or two items. Prompting may be ignored.
- out of 10. Mostly Useless: The need for a superficial interchange communication is recognised, but usually an inappropriate response is given, for example over zealous laughing or a ‘yeah’ when a ‘no’ is required.
- out of 10. Basic grasp of weather: An ability to talk about the weather we’re having, but only a one or two clausal interchange is possible. “ooh, horridly wet at the moment” (says the other person). “Indeed it is drenched. Good-day to you sir”.
- out of 10. Normalish. An interchange with a shop keeper lasting a few minutes is possible. Basic consideration may be given to state of weather. Extrapolation of trends and reference to previous similar spells may be possible.
- out of 10. Normal. This person will be able to sit comfortably with someone such as a Neighbour (where normal relations are required), and converse about typical subjects. Will gain a sense of unease after a certain point, but will conduct a conversation with required politeness and etiquette. Recognising the unease, a 5 out of 10 may seek to avoid small talk interchange, by avoiding neighbours or other acquaintances.
- out of 10. Comfortable. Small talk can be maintained for a prolonged period of time. May be able to cope with 2 or several individuals, covering typical subjects. Brief silences may ensue between sporadic showers of conversation.
- out of 10. Traverser: At this point, the person may be able to move the conversation to new topics. They may segway between nuggets of small talk gold and set up other more experienced small talkers for moments of comedy. In groups, the traverser may appear superficial and interested only in portraying their own opinion. A dangerous small talker and may be portrayed negatively. They are only learning and on the path to greatness.
- out of 10. Highly competent: A responsive small talker, capable of several topics over the duration of a conversation. Capable of small group small talk but will stall awkwardly faced with a difficult group dynamic. Is likely to intuitively understand when to bring the conversation around though, but may lack experience to do so.
- out of 10. Expertly Competent. Able to talk indefinitely about most typical small talk subject. May be able to bring latest news into the discussion which may stray into controversial topics. Will often inject humorous asides whilst keeping the conversation light and brisk. Able to cope with group small talks an act as ‘chair’ of such conversations. Will recover from having any 1-5s in the group, but may still suffer a few difficult moments.
- out of 10. Expertly Expert. Able to accomplish all of (9), whilst covering more ‘in depth’ subjects but still with a breezy indifference. Is able to talk about genocide, religion, politics or mention the Nazis or Adolf Hitler and still remain affable. Able to steer other lesser able small-talkers to new topics and keep the group happy with light and easy conversation.
So there you have it. I expect to be a guest on BBC Breakfast as an ‘expert’ to help rate people in no time at all. Hey, I’m not saying I’m good at it, I just developed the scale. Like Beaufort for wind (weather)….Which has been terrible in Wales recently.
See what I did there?