In his book, How to Fail at Almost Everything and Still Win Big, Scott Adams, the creator of the character ‘Dilbert,’ discusses how to avoid being boring (among other topics). Some of his suggestions include the following:
- Unless you’re talking to foodies or someone who will soon be going to the same restaurant, don’t spend a lot of time telling people about what you’ve eaten.
- Don’t go on about movie or television plots if other people haven’t seen them and can’t discuss them with you.
- And keep any discussion about your illnesses or injuries short.
I know I’ve been guilty of the second and third. And I have to admit to some others as well:
- Whenever I have a mouse in my house, I go on about it as if I am the community’s bard recounting an epic tale.
- Sometimes in meetings, I realize (too late) that a good chunk of the agenda could have been covered in an email.
Still, most of the time, I hope I’m mildly interesting. (And let me persist in ignorance if I’m not.)
I used to tell my students that there are no boring subjects. They might not find Emily Dickinson fascinating, but some people not only find her interesting but dedicate their careers to studying her poetry. Boredom says more about us than the topic. I will always find calculus boring, but I know that it’s because I’m not willing to put in the work to understand the subject.
The same is true about people. None of us is inherently boring. If we have become so, it’s often because we’ve become complacent and that can be fixed:
- We can pay attention to others’ body language and modify our behavior when we sense we’re boring them.
- We can start listening instead of talking (finding out what others are interested in).
- We can try new things.
- We can stop complaining about the things that we haven’t changed in the past five years and don’t intend to change in the next five.
Basically, if we have become a little boring, we just need to wake up and pay attention to the world around us.