We've all attended events, parties, conferences or get-togethers and gotten stuck conversing with a stick-in-the-mud. It's one of those things that once you experience it, you pray and hope to avoid it in the future, at all costs.
Being labeled as someone who is boring is one of the worst things that can happen to your social life.
There are key differences between a boring person and an interesting person and the biggest difference is in how people view you.
The invites to social gatherings decrease and the actual interactions you have at events are limited as people start avoiding you like the plague.
So, how can you ensure you're not the boring person at an event or gathering? Embrace the science behind what makes or breaks an interaction.
For those of you who need to touch up on your ability to carry a conversation, I've gathered some key insights from research-backed psychology studies that you can use in your day-to-day interactions.
In the first study, the researchers asked people to describe "things other people do that make them seem boring." From there, they made lists of their responses and asked a hundred more people to rate how boring those habits were.
Ultimately, they came up with nine categories of boring habits and behaviors that you can use to ensure you're not someone people avoid like the plague.
These are conversation habits we've all encountered and, perhaps, mistakenly developed ourselves. If you remember these ideas, you'll be equipped to start owning every room you enter.
Let's get to it:
1. Negative Egocentrism
Sorry, negative Nancy’s — the fastest way down a road of boring is what researchers describe as "being negative and complaining, talking about one's problems, displaying disinterest in others."
We’ve all been at parties or events where someone just won't stop talking about how horrible things are.
Whether it’s a significant other, job, homework or fantasy football team, studies show people aren’t interested in hearing about your woes and complaints. Talk about things you enjoy, are excited about and interested in.
2. Banal Conversations
The second most boring topic researchers found is "talking about trivial or superficial things, being interested in only one topic and repeating the same stories and jokes again and again."
In these situations, the conversation constantly circles around trivial things like the weather, what you do for work and whether or not you're enjoying the evening.
These banal conversations happen when one or both parties are simply unwilling to open up to the other person. So, take the first step and start a conversation centered on something deeper than the weather.
3. Not Showing Interest In The Convo
The third habit that drives boring conversations is not showing any interest.
Have you ever talked with someone who always gives you one-word answers or consistently speaks in the same tone? It's not easy to have conversations with these people, and it can often feel like pulling teeth.
The studies found that people who show little enthusiasm, speak in monotone voices, avoid eye contact and behave in a very unexpressive ways are considered boring, too.
This is a habit you can break. You just need to be aware of how you're interacting with people and show interest in every conversation.
4. Tediousness With Key Points
The studies also found that people who take a while to get to a point or talk slowly are also very boring.
The specific description was that people who "talk slowly, pause a long time before responding, take a long time to make one's points and drag conversations on" are considered boring.
Think about that professor or teacher who would constantly talk about the same point over and over, even though the entire class already got it.
Instead of falling into this trap, get to your points quickly and establish a few go-to stories you can pull out of your hat when a conversation starts to slow down.
5. No Opinion On Anything
We all know someone who doesn't have an opinion on anything. At the same time, we also know people who have opinions about everything. Both are issues, but not having an opinion on anything at all is a one-way street to snore-ville.
The study found that having little to say, having few opinions, being predictable in your thoughts or trying to be liked by agreeing with everyone is another habit of boring people.
Everyone enjoys an informed and quality debate or discussion.
This is the me, me, me syndrome. If you’re only going to talk about how great you are, people will find someone else to talk to. It's as simple as that!
Confidence is great, but having a huge ego is boring.
Studies show that people want to talk about themselves. So, instead of being the person doing all the talking, give the floor to others by asking questions.
7. Constant Seriousness
No one feels exhilarated or inspired talking to someone who's always serious. Even Bill Gates understands the importance of not taking yourself too seriously.
Laugh at people's jokes. Smile when they use sarcasm. Make light of awkward situations.
Don't be a bump on a log and act like a robot. Show some emotion!
8. Boring Ingratiation
On the flip side to the last point, it's also important not to be a try-hard. Studies found that one of the other top boring habits was when people were "trying to be funny or nice in order to impress other people."
Instead of always thinking about ways you can impress someone, you should be thinking about how you can connect or add value to his or her life.
As soon as you start acting this way, people will be impressed by you as a person, not as someone who is trying hard to impress.
9. Being Distracted By Other Things
Do you pull out your phone and text someone else mid-conversation? Do you spend time scrolling through your Instagram or Twitter feeds? Do you get lost easily and start thinking about other things?
The study also found that doing things that interfere with the conversation, getting sidetracked and engaging in too much small talk were also active habits of boring conversations.
Focus on the person you're speaking with; be present in the moment and the conversation you're having.
Now that you know what habits are at the core of boring conversations, you can avoid them like the plague. This will allow you to flow through conversations with ease and ensure that the person on the other side isn't snoring through your dialogue.
Ross Simmonds writes at RossSimmonds.com, where he shares a research-backed studies and his personal perspective on entrepreneurship, life, communications and technology.
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