How To Survive A Boring Conversation
Have you ever been in a conversation and found yourself distracted by your environment?
Have you ever found your eyes starting to glaze over and feel like you are being hypnotised?
Do you ever find that inner voice screaming ‘just get to the point’?
I was running a communication workshop recently and was asked the question “how can I still look present and engaged, when the person I am talking to is really boring?”
In a social situation it’s easier to make a getaway, there are lots of techniques at our disposal, my favourite being the ‘hey, meet my friend Dan’ followed by ‘anyway gotta dash’ 😁
In all seriousness there will be times when we have to sit through the monotone, verbal waterfall of words that are slowly depleting our very existence, but we have to remain present, interested and in the moment.
It might be a situation where we can’t allow ourselves to zone out or let the head to do the sudden narcoleptic drop we often see on aeroplanes, we have to stay alert and in the moment.
If you show disinterest there is the risk of offending a colleague or valuable client. Cutting them short or rushing them to the point will create the impression that you are not really looking out for their best interests or don’t care what they have to say.
Before I share a few ideas that will save you from conversational hypnosis it’s worth pointing out that being present and engaged is a key component of charisma, making another person feel like they are the only person in the world at that moment is a powerful tool in creating a trusting and meaningful connection.
We all want more charisma, so even if you only use these ideas to stroke your own ego it will be worth it..... but I know your better than that 😉
“how can I still look present and engaged, when the person I am talking to is really boring?”
Idea #1 - Become Curious
This is probably the most effective tool you can use and is very natural. By asking questions you go on a conversational adventure where you might just uncover a talking point treasure chest.
Asking questions also allows you to steer the conversation in a more interesting direction, the side effect of being curious is you are viewed as being more interesting. As Dale Carnegie once stated ‘to be interesting, be interested’
Idea #2 - Set A Conversational Goal
This is a great tool, one I have used extensively in the past, especially when faced with an alcohol lubricated audience member wanting a chin-wag.
Decide on one or two things you are going to find out about that person during the conversation,
more obscure = more fun.
Just be careful that you don’t go too personal (although if you want to end a boring conversation quickly now’s your chance).
A few examples could be, what got them in to their line of work? What their dream job would be? Where they are going on holiday this year
When I was asked this question during the workshop, one of the delegates said they try and find out the person hobbies.
Having a conversation goal turns the interaction in to a mini game for you and keeps you engaged.
Idea #3 - RE engage
When we are in a conversation that is boring the first place this shows up (often unknown to us) is in our body. We will start to angle our body away, fold the arms, fidget or look around. When you notice your body language starting to shut down consciously adjust and re-engage.
Next time you find yourself in a boring conversation pay attention to what your feet are doing, it is one of the first places to disengage. When your feet start pointing away from ‘captain captivating’ make a deliberate action to re engage.
As mentioned, body language happens out of awareness most of the time, being an effective communicator and influencer requires you to be conscious of the different levels in which you communicate and be deliberate in how you use them.
This idea comes from Olivia Fox’s book ‘The Charisma Myth’. I will be honest and say I have not used this technique, I have had great success with the above tools.
Olivia highlights the importance of presence and its vital role in building charisma, when you feel yourself start to wander, focus on the sensation in either your tongue or your toes. According to Olivia this will bring you back in the moment and create that feeling of being present.
Do you have a go to tool for staying engaged during a boring conversation? I would love to hear it.
If you have found this article helpful please share it around.
Thanks for dropping by,
Anthony Laye - Behaviour Expert / Mentalist / Speaker
P.S A free copy of ‘5 Ways To Win People Over’ is waiting for you click here to get your copy NOW.
P.P.S Keen to discover some more powerful tools?
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