I feel a bit strange when I go out these days. A social anxiety that manifests with extreme awkwardness. So I’ve just taken the Conversation Skills Ratings Scale test. Actually this is a lie. I tried to take the test but it made me so stressed that I may never leave the house again.
This ‘How Awkward Are You?’ test was first developed in 1987 by Brian Spitzberg before Twitter, Tinder, Facebook and counter-intuitively smartphones, killed our ability to have a conversation, decimated our concentration, made parties incredibly hard, and dating near impossible.
How fluent are you? How confident are you? How fast do you talk? These are just the first three questions. Already feeling a little bit uncertain. The scale for your responses goes from inadequate to excellent. Via adequate. Are you adequate? I ask myself that every day.
Anyway the test doesn’t care, blithely breezes on, unconcerned with sweating palms, pounding hearts; oblivious to the stress it’s causing. What’s your vocal variety? Dunno, really. Volume? Oh. Posture? Ah. Are you leaning in? Not Sheryl-Sandberg style but rather invading someone’s personal space. No one likes a space invader. Any nervous twitches? Only my eye. Oh my God. We are nowhere near halfway through. Are you asking enough/too many questions? Are you smiling? Is this is a happy conversation? No? Then why are you smiling?
At this point I gave up because I am reliving/regretting every conversation I have ever had when I’ve not been listening properly and responded inappropriately. Sample:
Person: “My dog died yesterday”
Me: “That’s so cool, we are desperate to get a pet.”