Sunday, January 10, 2010

7 Levels of Conversation.

There are seven levels of conversation that take place in any serious relationship: Chat, Talk, Discussion, Debate, Argument, Fight and Break-Up.

Small talk and minor conversations always start out as Chats, and often don’t go very far above that. More serious subjects however start out as Talks. More serious Chats turn into Talks.

“We need to have a talk.”
“Can we talk?”
“I have to talk to you about something.”

Ok, let’s talk. Depending on the nature of the Talk, it could potentially turn into a Discussion, or it could just as easily fizzle down into a Chat. Once you’ve started a Discussion, however, you need to be careful. If either party shows too strong an opinion, or both parties have opinions that oppose one another, this could spiral upwards into a Debate. Once you’ve reached a Debate, it’s often hard to turn it back down into a Discussion or Talk and nearly impossible to bring it directly back down to a Chat.

Debates often resolve themselves when someone gets too sleepy to debate anymore, or ends up changing their opinion altogether (sometimes just to end the Debate). But if either party has the nerve to press at the issue for too long, you’re looking at an Argument. The important thing to remember during an Argument is that one wrong move and you will escalate it into a full-blown Fight. So try and play your cards right. Then again, if you are willing to not be so stubborn, and compromise your opinion for the good of the community, you can easily lower it to a Debate, or even a Discussion. I once knew someone who claimed to have gone straight from Argument down to Chat in three words. I think they work for NASA now, but I never did find out what those words were. Try not to yo-yo between levels too much, as most times, this type of mental anguish and strain often results in a Fight.

It’s also important to note that it is not healthy for the relationship to end an Argument or a Fight without first returning the conversation back down to a lower level, such as Debate or Discussion, if you wish to avoid a Fight maturing into a Break-Up. The only good thing about a Fight is that if you are lucky enough and you both get worked up and sweaty enough, Fights can often lead to Make-Up Fun-Time Activities, an absolutely terrific way to end a conversation.

Make-Up Fun-Time Activities , or MUFTA, pronounced MOOF-TUH, often involves very little talking, or none at all, which is why, unlike the Break-Up, MUFTA is not considered to be one of the levels of conversation. Also, once it begins, the conversation is definitely over. No one goes from MUFTA back to conversation, that’s just crazy talk. Great MUFTA leads to more MUFTA. Bad MUFTA, however, can lead to a Break-Up. Post Break-Up MUFTA is probably pretty solid, but generally frowned upon, since I guarantee it won’t be long before the next Fight and subsequent Break-Up. Sadly, the only way to achieve MUFTA is through a Fight. Never initiate a Fight hoping for MUFTA, it won’t happen, it must occur naturally in the wild.

The step from Fight to Break-Up is definitely more infrequent and rare. However, I would assume that every Break-Up happened at the end of a long Fight, or a very long series of Fights. A Break-Up is also likely the beginning in a series of Talks, Discussions, Debates, Arguments and Fights, which is why it is the seventh level of conversation, and is also known as level infinity.

To avoid Fights and Break-Ups, understand that one of the pillars of a good relationship is communication. So, you had better start learning what makes your partner travel from level to level, and what behaviour is still acceptable within each.

First, find out during which levels it is still safe to take bathroom breaks. Obviously during an Argument or Fight, no one wants to hear the bathroom echo of:

“Keep going honey, I’m listening”

coming from down the hall, with the faint sound of number one or number two. Perhaps for your partner, this activity is acceptable from Chat all the way up to a Debate. The importance of knowing this is mainly for your own comfort, so that you can take the opportunity to go while you still have a chance. A badly placed bathroom break can lead to a Fight. On a side note, I always find it rather amazing, and frustrating, that most women can’t make a two hour drive with out two or three bathroom breaks, but can often have a Talk, Discussion, Debate, Argument or Fight for twelve hours without a drop of pee coming out. Doctors do recommend that you pee before and after MUFTA.

You must also figure out when it is still considered acceptable to fart. I know you’re thinking that it could help lighten the mood in any level, maybe even take a Debate back down to a Chat, or a Fight back down to a Discussion. After all, it’s just like fun and silly punctuation! It’s a way to sound out an exclamation point and emphasize a statement made. You may think this, but the other person perceives it as the following:

“I haven’t even bothered to listen to what you have to say, but here’s what I think of you and your opinions”.

And then the inevitable (I don’t know how to spell out a fart noise, but here it goes):

Braaaap” or
Pooo-wooooot” or
Skreedleweeeeeeee” or
Fwatatatatatatatata!!TAT!!” or

Again, some people have a wide range of levels during which farting will be accepted, or even welcomed. If you need to, first test the waters with a silent smelly one. If it goes over badly, you can try and blame the smell on the pet, or if no pet is around to blame, blame it on the garbage can or the neighbour’s nasty fish supper. If your partner does figure out what the smell is, and somehow still does not seem too bothered by it, then maybe its time to try a full bodied noisy one next time around. Always try this first during a Chat or a Talk, and slowly move your way up the levels, to find out where the cut-off is. Never try your first conversation fart during anything above a Talk, or you may instantly enter a Fight. I knew someone once that said that they went straight from a Fight to MUFTA, in three farts. I think that they work for the Government now, making seven figures.

Other examples that may require such investigation and testing are:
- Making and eating a sandwich
- Playing a musical instrument
- Reading or surfing the net
- Playing video games or watching television
- Taking a phone call
- Burping
- Sneezing or coughing
- Sleeping
- Playfully telling the other person to “Shut Up”
- Emitting loud stomach noises
- Grabbing the other party’s butt
- Scratching body parts
- Leaving the Room
- Listening to your ipod and/or dancing
- Playing Peek-a-Boo
- Performing a cartwheel
- Making balloon animals
- Showering
- Repeating everything the other party says
- Getting drunk
- Nose picking
- Using foul language
- High fiving
- Blank staring
- Head nodding
- Laughing
- Practicing jump kicks

Once you start figuring out the acceptability of the above list of activities, write them down, and make yourself a chart. If you have trouble remembering the different levels, what could trigger them in your partner, and what is acceptable during each level, carry the chart with you, and refer to it when needed. Checking this chart during a conversation is probably also something that should be added to the above list. You may come across other activities that need to be added for your own relationship. That’s the beauty of keeping your own personal chart; you can add as many activities as necessary.

Finally, I would like to add that if your conversation is taking place while eating a snack, or even worse during a whole meal of food, and it its starting to climb up the levels, it’s sometimes best to just relax and keep quiet. No sense in risking an Argument or Fight breaking out when each party has knives, forks and hot food at their disposal. A spicy hot meatball thrown into the eye at short range can cause permanent damage, studies have shown. Also no one wants post-hospital MUFTA with someone wearing an eye-patch.

That’s it. Conversation finished.

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