Different Forms of Chat
My Little Premise
The other day, a friend told me about how terrible I used to be at “shooting the breeze”. How over University I’d improved my ability to talk more about nothing, and less about something. Although this felt like a backhanded compliment, they were actually quite pleased about my improved nothingness spewing. To rattle off seventeen different reasons to buy a bidet (information I may provide in a separate article someday). But it got me thinking about the different forms of chat. I always assumed that as you go up the rung of society you hit different levels of conversation. From the aforementioned “shooting the breeze” to more high brow discussion topics such as the origins of the word “aforementioned”. So these are my five levels of conversation to help you analyse your own conversation techniques, and potentially become even more poncy or a bit more normal.
Shooting the Breeze
The proverbial blind man’s painting. Weed chat. Some aspects of shooting the breeze are so mentally defective that it actually may sound a bit high brow. The dumbest things you can say actually may link to some of the most interesting conversations you may ever have. I wonder if in a different reality, I didn’t get in a massive tire and my friends didn’t roll me down a mile long hill (an actual example I have experienced, no judgements please). When you have nothing to say but you are in someone’s company, and you aren’t in that level of comfort with them yet where silence is an option, that’s when shooting the breeze topics come into play.
A classic with distant relatives and plumber’s wives everywhere. A “girlfriend’s parents” conversation. These may include (again another personal example here) talking to your girlfriends mother about her sister’s daughters University choices. Bioengineering at Glasgow… very nice… very interesting. I suppose in reality any chat like this can technically lead you on to higher brow ideals if you are a particularly good conversationalist. The chat about the weather could lead you on to explaining how hurricanes come about or why England’s weather is so bad in comparison to everywhere else in Europe. But most of the time if you try to do that, the other member of the conversation will just look at you like you just escaped from a mental institution.
Classic, meat and gravy, bread and butter, sausage and…mash type of talk. Inquisitive questions leading to the gradual expansion of words. How have you been? What do you think about the government? Did you see that thing in the news? Remember when we did that. Good talking points that fill up around 5-10 minutes of time per point, what you are hoping for is that they have been doing, that they have been thinking, and that they do remember what they did. This is what separates the wheat from the chaff. Those who are actually interesting and can hold a conversation. Anyone can shoot the breeze and talk about absolutely nothing, but conversation involves a certain je ne sais quoi.
This section is for those with opinions. You ofcourse require a certain level of opinion for conversation however conversation takes up the ‘what have and are you doing’ element whilst discussion actually involved the ‘what do you think’ about so and so. Religion, Politics, Culture, and the great unknown are all good points for a room with people who have opinions on these sorts of things. Personally, for me, this is when the most enjoyable conversations appear. Discussion is intertwined with argument quite regularly, and argument leads to people learning new things the majority of the time, either negatively about the person they once liked, or positively about the things they used to consider correct. Talking about religion between an atheist and a christian, politics between labour and conservative, or culture with the poor and the rich are all key ways of growing through chatting, and can be lathered up further with alcohol.
High Brow Discussion
Existentialism, Space, Science, Psychology, and Philosophy. The kind of questions you would ponder when sipping expensive wine at a professor’s house in Paris, or when you are tripping your soul out of your body in a Tesco car park in Leeds. High brow discussion is less about the “what do you think” and more about the “what can you reflect on”. The complexities of the human brain, the moral pondery in Sophie’s Choice, or the great expanse of space. Usually what distinguishes high brow discussion from any other talking stage is the state of the people, incredibly drunk and high people may feel like they are entering this level of discussion but really they are stating what many incredibly drunk and high people has said before them, not to diminish the great works that incredibly drunk and high people have done the world over, but high brow discussion is rare, and usually only exhibited in lectures, books, or academic journals.
So these were my five stages of conversation. You could potentially think of it as a sort of loop of convo as the most high brow discussion topics can be exhibited in the most dumbest of shooting the breeze moments. Now hopefully you can identify whether you are a particularly adept conversationalist and maybe begin testing your friends to see who’s the dreg of the group.