What do we do when it feels like we aren’t interesting or that people get bored talking to us?
Look at these comments from two members of the SocialSelf community:
“I am doing an exchange semester abroad. Recently, I have been feeling very insecure and like I was the most boring person in the world to talk to, mainly because of lack of genuine interest and affection from the people I talk to.
I did not know what to talk about and people did not seem interested in me. Also, someone I got to know a bit better, mentioned that I ask a lot of questions (that’s how I get when I am trying to be extroverted), without providing anything about myself (again, because I feel like I have nothing to add and that I am boring).”
“My biggest social life challenge currently is talking to my peers without being boring. The conversation starts off with a lot of energy but begins to fizzle out after 5-10 minutes. After the conversation hits the 10-minute mark, I find it hard to find what topics or things to discuss. I want the conversation (especially with girls) to continue on and be fun for a very long time.
Things are made worse by the advice you find online on how to be more interesting.
Here’s some actual advice from the top results on Google…
Terrible advice 1: Memorizing questions to make the conversation interesting
“Working on any passion projects at the moment?”
“Besides work, what gets you up in the morning?”
You can’t just fire off canned questions. If someone out of the blue asked me what “passion projects” I work on, it would probably just feel weird.
Terrible advice 2: Crack jokes
“For example, when someone asks how he’s doing, he responds, ‘My lawyer says I don’t have to answer that question.’
It’s always fun to see a new person’s reaction. It just sets up the rest of the time together, true human connection and a good time, and isn’t that what it’s all about?”
Obviously, cracking jokes like this gets old fast. Plus, it misses the core of the problem. We don’t feel uninteresting because we crack too few jokes.
We need to go deeper.
What actually DOES work to have interesting conversations?
The advice above is trivializing the issue. Often, when it feels like someone loses interest in what we’re saying, our self-esteem takes a punch.
One time, I had a conversation with a girl I liked at a meetup. Then, she got eye contact with a guy behind me that she knew. It was like she forgot that we were talking, and she walked right over to him. I was gutted.
As you can guess, I was pretty quiet the rest of that night. Naturally, that also made me more boring to talk to. My fear of being boring became a self-fulfilling prophecy.
It takes more than cracking a few jokes to get past that.
Examining WHY we feel boring
Sometimes, we end up just listening to others. Then, when it’s our turn to speak, we just don’t know what could possibly be interesting enough to say.
Or, we get stuck in small talk. After 5-10 minutes of small talk, the conversation fizzles out.
Here’s a third cause: Our mind goes blank, and we can’t come up with anything to say.
Luckily, there’s a single solution to all of these problems. The trick I use is to ask about people’s relationship to the current subject.
So for example, if we make boring small talk about work, I ask about the person’s RELATIONSHIP to their work. So maybe I say:
“Do you like your job or do you dream of working with something else?”
As opposed to the bad advice above, this isn’t a canned line or a cheap joke.
Asking about someone’s relationship with the subject turns boring small talk into a deep conversation about dreams and thoughts.
The reason we think small talk is boring is that it’s often about facts and not what people think and feel. Since we can google facts anyway, they aren’t that interesting to talk about. (Unless both of you happen to be highly interested in the topic. I talk about that in this article on making interesting conversations.
But this method still won’t help us out of the “listeners trap” of feeling uncomfortable talking about ourselves.
This is where the thoughts and feelings method come in…
Whenever you’re making small talk and want to connect, share personal thoughts or feelings about the subject.
“But David, are you telling me that I have to share my thoughts on child labor and feelings about my grandmother’s death!?”
No! This isn’t about becoming an open book. It’s about opening up enough to not be a walking black box. What you actually do open up about can be very mundane. We can learn to do this, even if we feel uncomfortable talking about ourselves. Let me show you how.
You see, conversations get boring when they are only factual and shallow; we break out of that by sharing feelings and opinions.
Here are the steps:
- Share a personal thought or feeling about the topic you’re on.
- Ask about their thoughts and feelings on the subject.
- If they give you a long response, share more of your original thoughts and feelings to match the other person’s reply in length.
This helps you out of the listener’s trap and creates a balanced conversation.
Here’s an example:
Say that you have a boring and factual small talk about how apartments are expensive.
“Apparently there’s been a 15% rent increase the last year, so it’s not like it’s going to be cheaper any time soon.”
Instead of talking more about rent increases, you share a personal thought or feeling. In other words, something that shows a little bit of who you are:
I get stressed living in the city.
I would love to buy my own place one day.
And then, you ask them about their thoughts or feelings.
Do you get stressed living here?
Where would you like to live if you could choose any place?
If they give you a long response, you can now talk more about where you would rather live or in what way the city stresses you.
As you see, you don’t have to open up in a way that’s uncomfortable. You just need to share a little bit of yourself, without having to be vulnerable.
Another example, say that you have boring and factual small talk about the weather.
“They say it will get cooler soon.”
Here, you can say something like:
“Warm weather makes me drowsy so I’m actually looking forward to that.”
“I was thinking last year of moving somewhere with more sun.”
You don’t have to travel the world or have an amazing life to be able to have these kinds of conversations.
You don’t have to share anything provocative and it’s not about finding differences between you. Notice in the examples how the conversation is simple, easy-going, and still interesting.
“But David, my head goes blank. How can I come up with all these thoughts and feelings?”
Your head is already full of thoughts and feelings. As proof of that statement, just think about how many thoughts and feelings come up when you talk with someone you’re truly comfortable with.
If you can’t access your thoughts and feelings, it’s because you are in your own head, chasing things to say, rather than being focused on the conversation, letting your thoughts and feelings come to you.
Did you know that you can learn to better at focusing on a conversation? The trick is to continuously re-focus on it when you blank out. After a while, your brain becomes really good at staying focused on the topic.
You can practice this in conversations with anyone, preferably around people you already feel at ease with.
After some weeks of practice, you will notice how it’s easier to stay present in the conversation. As a result, your thoughts and feelings naturally pop up.
I talk more about this in this article about how to focus and be more present in a conversation.
So, whenever you make small talk, share your personal thoughts and feelings about the subject. Ask about theirs. Let your conversation move to thoughts and feelings, rather than grinding facts.
This is the recipe for an interesting conversation.
You also might like this article on how to not be boring.
What do you think? Leave a comment below!
38 CommentsAdd a Comment
These r really helpful. I actually look forward to reading these. Thanks ????
A great advice…thanks a lot!!!
Thanks, David. You are on point.
It seems you know what’s always on my mind, thanks for the advice you give always, they’ve helped me a lot
Hey David, what you’re going through is exactly what’s happening to me. I appreciate your help and hope things are looking better now.
Thanks.I would like to try it.
Thank you David
It’s helpful for me..i feel like you are talking about me.
Thanks so much
Everything you said was about me..that’s how i am too
Your article was helpful????
Thanks a lot for your valuable advice. It means a lot to me.
I find this article very helpful I really appreciate
So lovely to put some one on are big difference.
Initially I thought this might be one of the usual useless “how to be a social butterfly” blog. But it is not at all like that. David’s advices for approaching social situations is really amazing and it actually helps! Like David said in one of his emails, you cannot become a social butterfly from being an introvert overnight. The gradual steps that David wants us to take to make us more comfortable in conversations are very effective and feasible!
I found this article really helpful and simple. It just takes a bit, just a biiit of your own thoughts and feelings to create the conversation. And if you think that you don’t have what to add, if you are like me and usually don’t talk that much, well, we have the minds with the most unexpressed feelings and thoughts.. we just have to express a little our opinion about the subject. I hope it helped you too, thanks to socialpro!????
I agree that facts are boring to talk about because they’re completely one dimensional. Thoughts and feelings are layered and interesting because they are unique to each person.
That’s one of the greatest article, I find it interesting. I now know where to start from, I’ll practice on how to come up with interesting jokes when having a conversation. Thanks David.
Jokes should be spontaneous in my opinion. Just have fun with the convo. At least you get something out of it if nothing else.
My life has been turned upside down these last 7 years especially the last 2 . I once was certifying but with my life upturned I put up walls and forgot how to do conversation . David has brought out more convo in me in 2 weeks. Thanks David for your info . It really does work both on self esteem and convo with people
You know what Dav, this piece just cut it for me. I now know where my challenges are, looking forward to more of these teachings to revamp my social life.
Thanks very much David,I need your help for my upcoming interview next month.I get overconfident and use jerky movements.I get so nervous that I missed the words of the interviewer and sometimes I totally forget the answer though I knew it.
Wow this is good .is so motivating.this is what is happening time .all the time . thanks guys you are the best
This is very true thanks David
Woow, this is what I have been trying to do but not bold enough, thanks David for sharing this article.
I love it
This is good. I usually ask a lot of questions, one lady even told me so. She was offended. So the missing part is that I didn’t open up and share thoughts opinions and feelings. I need to be willing to share first. That is a good insight.
Wow. Awesome piece of advice. I can only state that adding facial reactions make the conversation even more engaging and interesting.
This article insanely helpful! Thanks for sharing ✌?
The fact that this website and the emails are free is amazing, it’s all simple stuff I already knew but reading it once a week in an email seems to revamp my social situations, and I’m finding it much easier to have relaxed conversations with anybody I’m close to, or even just met.I’ve definitely noticed a confidence boost as well. Thanks and looking forward to more great content
Awesome article! Things finally started to click when I realized: Yes, I had the potential to have great conversations! For some reason, I was unable to bring that skill into interaction with other adults. Like I wasn’t good enough to be worth listening too or I really didn’t know how to be interesting.
Granted, I was a teacher. But I was one that successfully taught social skills. How to talk to kids so they will listen (which is also a great book) is also how to talk to adults so they will listen too. It is to be relatable. Not too relatable or you’ll be too revealing. Not so secretive you come off as unreachable. Kids favorite adults or teachers were the ones that could take a joke even at thier own expense. That’s a great way to break the ice or get up after slipping on it. That method has never changed even as people grow up. Thank goodness.
does that mean that it’s okay to make self-deprecating jokes?
I think self-deprecating jokes work best in a position of power (like teacher vs students). But it can be more tricky if you do it too much when you’re equal to the lister(s).
Many times I have more personal conversations in bars etc. but people dont want to talk about more personal things. I asked someone what they did, whether they loved their job and then what they would do if they could do anything? They just said I dont know, still think about it. People don’t want to have deep and meaningful personal conversations in bars and parties, they just want to keep it light and have a laugh. That’s what I struggle with. Any tips?
Make the conversation appropriate with the setting. Deep and meaningful conversation is best suited in private settings rather than loud and public ones. Also, make sure that the person you’re having a deep conversation with feels close enough to you for them to open up more.
Thanks for the help! What other personal questions can I ask, especially when talking to other teenagers?
Amazing and really great insights to being really authentic. Love your great sincerity and tips!
Whenever I get your mail, they bless me in ways you can’t imagine.my social life has been impacted by your words. Thanks for the acuraccy and consistency in delivery. All this post are really revolutionary for me. Always looking forward to the next post. Thank you.
So glad to hear that Wole. It means a lot to me to know that others are helped by what I write. Thank you!