The world is full of all kinds of people. As a freelance writer, I get to observe them too. Since I also teach at an institute, there I get to hear and ‘overhear’ conversations that often lead me to label people as interesting or boring. Not to forget that I may also be labeled as boring or interesting by a lot of people. And so there is one constant nightmare that never escapes me. That is, “Am I a bore?”
I often get my best answers from the facial expression on a person’s face or body language. That helps me get my clues.
Like once I saw two students conversing in the campus about a section test. One of them was constantly checking his mobile, as if, waiting for it to ring. While I passed, he had just scored a zero on his mobile football game! A glance at his expression told me that he was practically bored with his friend who still hadn’t a clue.
Hence, I got my Alarm No 1: Distraction. If the person touches his/her mobile phone or book etc during the conversation, it is not too late, I still have to time to realize I am boring him/her and hence can take corrective measures.
A few of my fellow faculty members often share their classroom experiences with me. They complain, “I hate it when students yawn even at 8 am in the morning.” Well most probably they had slept late in the night or had trouble sleeping as I totally trust my colleagues’ teaching abilities.
However, if I leave aside these two possibilities and think of a third one in a conversation, I get my Alarm No 2: Yawning. If he/she yawns in the middle of conversation, I am certainly boring him/her. It may not always be due to lack of sleep.
There’s another interesting thing that I have often seen during one-to-one talks. Some people test the listening ability of others to the utmost. And so here’s Alarm No 3: Disinterest. While talking if the person suddenly looks very interested in the ceiling or the floor, I ought to push my brakes harder and shift gears.
But the worst of my nightmares came true during one of my casual talks with a person. Once I kept talking about my journalistic achievements with a friend who listened intently. After 10 minutes, he suddenly bent to pick up a tiny piece of paper. That sensitized me to Alarm No 4: The End. If we loose eye contact while talking and the other person’s eyes happen to notice even a pin/paper lying on the floor, I have bored the person to death.
During my voyage of learning the art of ‘not boring people’, I also realized that most interesting people in my life have been ardent listeners. They are the people who are genuinely interested in the well-being of others. They not only show interest but also go to any extent of getting deeply involved in the likes and dislikes of others.
This precisely means that their conversation does not begin with “I did….” But “Did You?”. And so I have come up with a simple definition of an interesting person. “He is interesting because he is interested in the interests of others.”
Back to my quest, I have often recognized that whenever I tend to over-impose my achievements on others, or talk a lot about my own self and expect others to just keep listening to me for eternity, I tend to bore people. A few clues, if you don’t want to be a bore:
- Do not drag a person into a conversation that chiefly talks about your successes or achievements, however big they are.
- Do not brag or forcefully keep the conversation going despite knowing that the person has lost all interest in it.
- Show interest in other’s achievements and interests too.
- Show how much you learnt from a certain incident rather than glorifying yourself.
- Stop, Stop, and Stop when you feel that you have failed to evoke any sympathy from your sad story. Look for clues.
- Try to evoke a mutual sharing experience in the conversation. Talk and let others talk too.
- Empathize. Do not ‘talk on’ people but ‘talk with’ them.
- Don’t flaunt knowledge but use it as an ‘add on’ in your conversation.
- Last and most important, be a good human being. That shows in conversation too.
While learning all these lessons at CH campus, I realized the world outside is no different. And if you want to learn, you have to start right here and right now. And so before this article gets boring, I better stop. Hope you got some clues. I did!