In this article, let’s explore how to make interesting conversations, and what makes a conversation boring and how to avoid it.
Small talk is unavoidable. It is the gateway to more detailed and meaningful conversation. However, if you are not aware of the situation and the people within it, you can easily get stuck at this stage.
There is the potential for you boring yourself and others, never getting to the point where you enjoy the exchange. There are some essential steps you can take to move beyond the boring conversation and start to enjoy yourself.
Boring Conversations – What They Are And How To Avoid Them
1. Has no consequence in your lives
Any chat about something that is completely useless, and doesn’t apply to real life, is going to end up boring you. Granted some conversation topics have no use in real life, but they’re fun and interesting to those listening. But some topics are just useless and inconsequential.
Think about talking about football to someone who’s not into it. Sure it can be fun and interesting to one person – but the other can have no interest at all, and absolutely no use for it. They just want the other person to stop talking or change the subject. They might even be polite enough to show interest in it for a few minutes, but after that, it’s just time to move on.
2. One person is making all the conversation heavy lifting
If you are asking questions and get short and conclusive answers; coming up with topics to talk about and the other person barely engages back with those topics; you are making all the effort and showing that your listening while the other person barely reacts to anything they hear; you give the conversation your full attention, while the other person is laid back or distracted by what’s going on around them.
All these scenarios will end in an uninspiring conversation.
You might think you have to be talking to a rude person for that to happen, right? Well, many people are just not aware of themselves socially. They don’t necessarily have bad intentions, they just don’t know how to hold interesting conversations. All you can do is practice so you are not one of these people.
3. Ignore the lack of closeness
We’re not getting any friendlier but we’re still talking for some reason – why? If you’ve been talking for half an hour and you still feel like strangers instead of potential friends, then that’s a problem – any conversation topic could be determined as boring.
4. They are centered around only one or two topics
If they only have one or two ideas for conversations, and drag those topics up until there is nothing left to say about them, it might signal that you don’t have much in common. You may need to stick to that one thing you can actually talk about… or you’re going to have to accept that you are talking to someone with inferior conversation skills.
For example, you can meet someone at a business networking event, as a group you all go to dinner, an hour of group conversation later, they’re still only talking about work, while everyone else is transitioning to personal topics to get to know others on a more personal level.
You can either leave the conversation or take responsibility for leading it in a new direction.
5. They’re emotionless and impersonal
If you never share any opinions, don’t talk about your feelings ever, don’t mention anything from your life that is out of the ordinary, boom! You have a boring conversation. To get interesting – do the opposite.
6. I’m perfect
Are you perfect? Yes? Good! Now let’s have a boring conversation. Yes, if you display and/or they display no vulnerability at all and just sit there and pretend that you have perfect lives and that you have everything under control, then yes, you’ll have a very stale and dull conversation.
Both of you secretly know that it’s not true, so you’re not really connecting – you think, well this is a fake social interaction, which is very hard to enjoy at all.
7. One person is holding the floor for too long
In groups the chance for a boring conversation should decrease, right? Or maybe not.
What if one person holds the floor for too long or every time a new subject is brought up, that person is the loudest, has the strongest opinions, the most amount of stories, and they WANT YOU TO KNOW NOW, CAN YOU HEAR THEM? OR SHOULD THEY SPEAK EVEN LOUDER?
Well, yeah, when one person dominates the conversation, even as new topics come up, then you just want them to shut up or leave so you can finally have a friendly convo.
8. Ignore a person or a couple of people in the group conversation (they stay silent)
Worse still is that group conversation where some people are always ignored or never encouraged to get involved. This becomes a boring interaction even if those who are talking are enjoying it. There is a creepy feeling about the whole thing.
Those who talk start to feel the guilt of leaving the others behind. Those who aren’t speaking develop this sense of being left out of the group.
9. Having a narcissist in the group
You know those people who will take any conversation topic and turn it into something about them, something that is related to their life, or reminds them about something amazing they did or some amazing quality they have and can’t wait to tell you about?
You know, those people who think that a group conversation is a performance, they’re the star, and everyone else is just there to witness their greatness? Yeah, those people.
They make the conversation boring. Don’t be like them. Ever. Please and thank you.
How To Have Interesting Conversations
1. Choose topics that apply to others
When just getting to know people, there are some topics that apply to anyone’s life, and you can safely talk about them with pretty much any adult: career and business, health and fitness, relationships, real estate and housing, vacations and travel, holidays, etc.
Because these topics apply to everyone, it’s easy for them to be engaged, interested, and participate in it.
2. Do your part of the work in conversation
Listen, show you’re listening, open conversation topics, engage with topics others bring up, and give the interaction your full attention. If you’re engaged with the conversation, it’s like you’re putting faith into the convo.
You’re saying “I believe this is an interesting conversation.” and by giving that impression, it’s easy for others to follow along and be engaged in it too. Enthusiasm is contagious; boredom is also contagious… so choose well which kind of emotions you want to have when talking to you. Choose which emotions you want them to associate with you.
3. Be aware of the connection you’re having with the other person
There are precise processes to getting to know people and making friends. If you’re in a conversation and ignore those processes, then the conversation won’t be interesting.
Here is the thing, you start with talking about what’s surrounding you, you then exchange basic information and facts about your lives and then transition to opinions, stories, and how you feel about things.
That’s how a typical interesting conversation that leads to friendship develops.
As you are aware of how close you’re getting with the other person or group of people, your conversations take that into account, and will definitely be more interesting.
The main reason for this is that: people want conversations where they’ll connect with others on a somewhat personal level; they want conversations that create connection and friendship. People find that very valuable and will always be interested in conversations that could lead to new friendships.
4. Expand the range of topics – do it early in the conversation
If you expand the range of topics in a conversation, you instantly make it more interesting and engaging.
You get extra points if you do it early on. This makes everyone unconsciously realize that “We can talk about anything here, ok, that’s cool!”
When talking to successful, and socially active people, you realize that there is more to who they are than their job and the basic facts of their life. They will want to draw in ideas from all areas of their life and encourage you to do the same.
They are interesting because they understand what is engaging about the life they lead and share this.
5. Get personal when appropriate
Moving the conversation along to more personal topics requires some skill. You don’t want to become personal too soon, nor do you want to keep your distance for too long. Gradually introduce stories from your experience and listen carefully to how responsive the other person is to sharing too.
If you are able to offer personal details and opinions with another person, you are likely going to become friends along the way.
6. Show vulnerability – gradually
We all want validation that what we’re doing makes sense. If our decisions are right. If what we feel and think actually makes sense to others – at least at a minimum. And the more we respect someone, the more we want their validation. It’s natural and human.
So, people will never open up to you and show interest in the conversation if you don’t remember to show that you’re only human, just like everybody else.
Show some of your vulnerabilities. Show the ones that almost embarrass you. Don’t share things that are too weird, too soon. Just sharing any small quirk you have or embarrassing little mistake you made recently.
Once you do that, you make the conversation very “real” and interesting.
7. Find balance in holding the conversation floor
Make sure you talk the right amount. It’s not a precise science, but there should be a balance between how long each person speaks in a conversation.
This is more important when talking to new people. Once you get to know people, the balance between how long each person speaks becomes less important, and people start to default to their natural speaking rhythm and preference.
For example, in one-on-one conversations, it should be close to 50-50 (50% you, 50% the other person). As you get to know them and become more comfortable it can go all the way to 80-20. With the “good listener” can speak just 20% and the “talker” 80%. This is normally appropriate.
But at first, it should be more balanced so both of you can figure out what kind of person they’re talking to.
A strong conversationalist will have got that way by chatting lots. They will have gone through those conversations where it never moves beyond small talk. They will also have been in an exchange where they missed the moments to become more personal and more vulnerable to the other.
What distinguishes those with the ability to engage in conversations from those who try is the resilience to keep going back and trying again.