How Not To Be Boring

There are few things worse than being stuck in a conversation with a boring person. I’m not talking about quiet people. A person who keeps his own confidence is often thought of as mysterious or complex. Their silence makes people curious about what they may be hiding. No, a boring person is almost always someone who talks a lot, revealing that they are not very interesting. Boring people are such a menace, that there is a whole area of etiquette about politely getting away from the boring guy at a social event.

So, what makes a person boring?

More important, how can you avoid being seen as a boring person?

The first thing you notice about boring people is they never seem to have a point to their stories and anecdotes. When telling a story in a social setting, you should always have a point. No one cares about what you had for lunch, unless it was something bizarre or unusual. If you had a delicious turkey club for lunch, that’s not something anyone wants to know. Now, if the waiter stripped naked and ran screaming into the street after serving you that delicious turkey club, then you have a story with a point. That’s an amusing tale.

Your stories and anecdotes don’t have to be amusing. Not everyone is a comedian. What’s important is you have some reason for telling the story. This is a courtesy to the listener. By having a point, you are showing respect to the listener, whether it it by sharing information with them or making them laugh with an amusing story. When your stories are pointless recitations of mundane events, you are, whether you realize it or not, insulting the audience. At the minimum, you are wasting their time, which is just as bad.

You should also avoid unnecessary details. That story about the waiter stripping down and running into the street is a good example. If you spend five minutes describing the menu and the turkey sandwich, then thirty seconds on the naked man, you made an amusing tale into misery for your listeners. Sure, a little setup to the big reveal is a good way to create tension, but a little goes a long way. In a social setting, a good story is one that avoids extraneous details and never lasts more that three or four minutes.

The easiest way to avoid loading up your sixty second story with ten minutes of tedium is to never explain the obvious. This is the most common error boring people make when telling a story. For some reason, they think they need to explain what everyone on earth has known since childhood. In the case of our turkey club, the boring person will actually explain what he means by turkey club or maybe even talk about the history of the turkey club. When in doubt, skip it. If people need more detail, they will ask.

Another way to avoid being the boring guy everyone avoids is to never tell a story that requires a back story. Boring people often start a story that should last three minutes, then veer into a long back story that they think is necessary to appreciate the tale. For example, the they will veer into a story about how they met their lunch companion in the turkey club story. The result is a dull story about the lunch companion, plus a dull description of lunch and the details of a turkey club. This is misery for listeners.

The boring also have a funny habit of talking over people. They ignore the little things others do to signal to the the boring that they need to stop talking. The boring are strangely competitive in their dullness. If you notice people starting to speak as soon as you take a breath, that they start looking at their phones or start looking around the room for familiar faces, you are the boring guy. You are not going to improve this situation by talking louder or talking over any interruptions. Take the hint and wrap up your story.

A good way to stop yourself from being that guy is to always invite others to tell their story or comment on the topic of conversation. People will find your turkey club story more interesting if you showed interest in their lunch story. A little active listening goes a long way. It not only keeps you from droning on about the delicious turkey club you had the other day, it makes you seem more interesting to others. Boring people are selfish people, in that they are only interested in their point of view, in far too much detail.

Finally, if it is a story you tell often and the listener is someone you know well, assume you told them the story, because you almost certainly did. Start with “If I told this before, stop me” or maybe, “I probably told this story before…” This gives them the right to stop you from boring them with the 80th retelling. This is not just a courtesy to the listener. It actually makes you seem more interesting, because you are not focused on yourself, but on the listener. This is flattering to the listener and and they will think better of you for it.

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E. Lee Ghoulmehii
Guest
E. Lee Ghoulmehii

Yes – the worst are the people who tell the same stores over and over again genuinely thinking you’ve never heard them… Anyone paying attention is like, “Here comes that one again”. But – most people aren’t paying attention so… oh well.

Sidvic
Guest
Sidvic

Getting older, i worry about doing this alot. I see a expression flicker across their face: Ohh i already told you this one. “Yup several times.”

rudy brix
Guest
rudy brix

And the thing about your peers getting older – sometimes you take a chance because you figure they probably can’t remember the other telling anyway. Seriously, it’s a kind of modesty – why the hell would they remember it?

Sidvic
Guest
Sidvic

well, you obviously got it worse than me! You nut.:)

Lorenzo
Guest
Lorenzo

On the other hand, I have half a dozen stories which people have been asking me to re-tell for years. Some of it is in the telling, but it requires good stories to begin with.

I do always wait to be asked and hang back a bit to be sure.

Pimpkin's Nephew
Guest
Pimpkin's Nephew

If a story is good, and you’ve heard it before, when the details are blurry, and you like the company of the storyteller, you say stuff like “Yeah, I kind of remember that one, but tell me again”. It’s one of those ineffable elements of true friendship. You overlook the changes in detail because you like the person, and know that he or she – like you – works a limited repertoire. An able raconteur can turn any common experience into a story: Taking out the trash, walking the dog, brushing one’s teeth, enrolling a child in summer camp, cashing… Read more »

Member

Z just did this so he could avoid naming the Jew. Coward!

Member

Heh!

I spent all day yesterday at work, toiling on this or that task for a salary…just so I could avoid naming the Jew.

Random Dude on the Internet
Guest
Random Dude on the Internet

Another way to not be boring in 2018: stop talking about craft beer. Craft beer is no longer interesting and hasn’t been interesting for some time now.

Member

I’m reading Witness by Whittaker Chambers and when he describes his shabby genteel upbringing he says the three rules that his mother taught him growing up is gentlemen never discuss religion, money and food. Food? That’s a new one to me. I was taught about religion and money in my shabby genteel upbringing but it was almost 70 years later. I guess the food one dropped off

Point being, I agree. Let’s stop talking about food and craft beer so much. It’s really tedious

Drake
Guest
Drake

Well, if you hand me a cold craft beer, you’ll immediately have my full attention. I’ll even listen to you talk about for a few minutes.

E. Lee Ghoulmehii
Guest
E. Lee Ghoulmehii

Years ago I coined, “talk victim”… its easy to identify the person scanning for potential talk victims. And when the “talker” successfully attaches to their talk victim, difficult to get them off. Particularly annoying is when a “talker” is a Leftist. “Well! Let me tell you what I heard on NPR!!!…” I think, STOP right there – you must pay me a $5 stupid tax if you’re going to blab about commie droolings you “heard on NPR.”

Dusty Bottoms
Guest
Dusty Bottoms

In the Army we perfected what we called a “hand off”. If you were stuck as a “talk victim” from the “talker” you would find someone near by and bring them in with a point of interest “Phil, you used to eat turkey sandwiches right?” then back away and watch as the new “talk victim” realized his fate. It became a great game to play.

Blondi
Guest
Blondi

I call it conversation rape.

Tamaqua
Guest
Tamaqua

The way things are going, we might have a whole new topic to bore each other with- after we win.
“This one time, during the second Civil War…”

Alzaebo
Guest
Alzaebo

Ha ha! “Oh gawd, the old man’s telling war stories agin…” as they hunted the ruins for their next victim and meal

Tamaqua
Guest
Tamaqua

“So there I was, at the Battle of San Francisco, when we were attacked by the notorious 25th Genderqueer Battalion! I’m telling you, they charged straight at us, rainbow flags flying, waving great purple dildos, crying and screaming at the sight of white men!

That’s when the artillery FO called out “immediate suppression” and 30 seconds later, the shells started impacting…”

Dutch
Guest
Dutch

Gives a whole new meaning to “turning tail”.

RedoubtRenee
Guest
RedoubtRenee

I don’t think they charged “straight”…just sayin

Alzaebo
Guest
Alzaebo

As my great gay friends said in 1988- “Never straight ahead, always gayly forward”

dave
Guest
dave

We have a couple at our parish who talk about themselves incessantly; you ain’t seen boring until you’ve met Bill and Dorothy.

Dr, Dre
Guest
Dr, Dre

I think I have. I’m laughing just thinking about Bill and Dorothy!

JEB
Guest
JEB

There are some people who are more than just normally boring, they seem to have some sort of mental condition. I had a co-worker once that everyone did their best to avoid talking to. We worked with mainframe computers, and he was perfectly competent at his job. But he would explain an issue, then he would explain his explanation, then he would go back back and explain the problem again, and at some point you literally had to order him to stop talking, because there was no other way. One evening, just for kicks, I let him go on about… Read more »

DLS
Guest
DLS

I had a similar co-worker from the tax department. His last name was McNabb, so we used to refer to the experience of getting cornered by him as being “McNabbed”. Even if you turned and walked away, he would follow you down the hall and keep talking. If you were the one being McNabbed, other co-workers would walk by and smile at you.

Shrugger
Guest
Shrugger

A new form of boring person, thanks to the smartphone, is the person who has to go through all the pictures they took since the last time they saw you, and “share” all the wonderful experiences they had, none of which are interesting in the slightest.

Thanks, Steve Jobs!

Member

There’s got to be a story behind how “How Not to be Boring” became today’s blog post.

Monty James
Guest

I so very badly want a turkey club sandwich now.

Member

Mitch Hedberg had a good routine on club sandwiches.

Alzaebo
Guest
Alzaebo

Ha ha ha! You devil!

Member

Tell me more.

Saml Adams
Guest
Saml Adams

Watch a guy like Ron White for a few of his routines. Simple story teller, but with impeccable set up and timing. Anyone can learn something there.

L. Beau Macaroni
Guest
L. Beau Macaroni

Maybe anybody could learn something there, but if anybody could do it, then Ron White wouldn’t have a career as an entertainer.

Saml Adams
Guest
Saml Adams

Had a conversation with him once where he made sleeping in his car outside a comedy club (couldn’t afford a hotel) in weather so cold his toothpaste froze in the tube, sidesplittingly funny. You are right. That is a God given talent.

Shane
Guest
Shane

One of the few who could go off on a tangent was Billy Connolly. His take was that it was like having a lovely conversation but the audience weren’t entitled to a word in

Tax Slave
Guest
Tax Slave

Zman, did you hapoen to run into George Will?

Issac
Guest
Issac

A never-ending kvetch is the foremost judeo-christian value.

Anonymous White Male
Guest
Anonymous White Male

“The first thing you notice about boring people is they never seem to have a point to their stories and anecdotes. When telling a story in a social setting, you should always have a point. No one cares about what you had for lunch, unless it was something bizarre or unusual. If you had a delicious turkey club for lunch, that’s not something anyone wants to know.” When we can point out how “boring” Facedouche and other social media sites are, we might be able to get some people to abandon them. “You’re boring. You posted on Assbook the other… Read more »

Wolf Barney
Guest
Wolf Barney

Just about every story I tell my kids results in, “you already told us that one, Dad.” I really need to get some new stories.

Member

Or new kids

Wolf Barney
Guest
Wolf Barney

The most annoying person is the one who happens to sit next to you when you’re both with a larger group and corners you, talking quietly about something boring while you’re trying to listen and participate with the more entertaining larger group. I think everyone knows someone like that.

Member

I probably spend too much time in bars, but you do meet a variety of people. You learn to appreciate those who can maintain self/social awareness even after far too many drinks. The flipside of this is a type I refer to as an Ei-sig. He’s had too many and now thinks “Everything I say is golden.” He starts to dominate the group conversation. It’s tolerable if he knows what he’s talking about. But painful when he’s just a shallow BS’r who simply loves the sound of his own opinion. If you’re going to try and take the floor or… Read more »

Spud Boy
Guest
Spud Boy

That post was boring.

Alzaebo
Guest
Alzaebo

Somebody wake me when this is over

E. Lee Ghoulmehii
Guest
E. Lee Ghoulmehii

Tisk, tisk – hatin on The Frip

Alzaebo
Guest
Alzaebo

No, no! Thought Spud was spoofing the Z

Allen
Guest
Allen

Even worse is the bore with no restraint. I knew a guy like this, he would regale anyone about everything including his medical conditions. You haven’t lived until you’ve had someone describe in excruciating detail their latest colonoscopy.

Member

BTDT, With a diagram on a white board showing where the obstruction/polyp was found in his system..

Tank
Guest
Tank

Just had one this AM. Would you like to hear about it?

Shrugger
Guest
Shrugger

Yes, endlessly talking about medical problems is something I’ve noticed about many of the people in our area–they’re significantly older and retired. It seems to be a game–the winner has the most pain or worst malady. My wife and I call it “You Think That’s Bad?”

Member

“Sun City Syndrome”

Trimegistus
Guest
Trimegistus

My late father used to call the conversations he had in assisted living “Organ Recitals.”

Dutch
Guest
Dutch

I once heard that older people only talk about what they recently had to eat and the latest medical procedures that have been done to them. Damn, that really seems to be true!

BTW, you can now poop into a little box instead of getting poked and prodded. That’s going to take a lot of the drama out of the stories.

Harmonium
Guest
Harmonium

Ch yeah, something about women over 50 want to recount all their medical history to you. THAT is boring.

Member

Yeah, you just described both of my parents perfectly. My mom’s primary conversational sins are 1) pointless stories and 2) excessive detail and backstory. For example, she’s getting rid of an old car that no longer runs by donating it to one of those Kars 4 Kids-style charities. She asked me to meet the person who’s coming to tow it away and take care of signing over the title, which is fine. But of course, she can’t just ask me; instead, I have to hear the entire story of every interaction she’s had with them up to this point, including… Read more »

Drake
Guest
Drake

To be a true bore, I think you have to be unable or unwilling to read the expressions and body language of your victims.

At work or in social situations, I always try to read my audience. If I see them losing interest, I get to the point fast then shut up.

FellowDissident
Guest
FellowDissident

I can’t be the only one here. Tell us more about the delicious turkey sandwich. Cheese?

Bunny
Guest
Bunny

I think what women call mansplaining may be just boring conversation. They will gladly listen if the explanation moves along or is entertaining. Also, please have mercy on elderspeaking. Half of these people have mental issues.

Drake
Guest
Drake

She will gladly listen if you describe how you feel about her and her issues. If you suggest actions to correct those issues, she’ll immediately lose interest.

Bunny
Guest
Bunny

Only if all she wanted in the first place was sympathy. Mansplaining is perhaps more like pontificating, which women can certainly do, too, right? My sons accuse me of constantly restating the obvious. Mansplaining is passe anyway, the new thing is hepeating.

Dutch
Guest
Dutch

Half of all people have mental issues. It explains a lot of things.

DLS
Guest
DLS

This post should be the first page in every HR communications training manual. And then you could throw away the rest of the manual.

Member

Ah. I see you’ve met my friend Peter, who never misses a chance to mention all the people I don’t know and haven’t met, and the circumstances of which I couldn’t care less.

He does get around!

BestGuest
Guest
BestGuest

Have I never told you about the time . . . ? (LOL)

Phil Ossify
Guest
Phil Ossify

Now you’ve done it. I’m having “Welcome Back, Kotter” flashbacks.

Mike_C
Guest
Mike_C

This is tangential to the “boring” issue as such, but relevant to the “repeats the same stories” comments. Ever since I can remember, certain triggers (such as the sight of a particular building) would result in my father repeating some associated story or anecdote, pretty much without any point or relevance to whatever else was going on at the time. As an example, on driving past the house at 52 Linden Street, “You know, your ‘uncle’ David lived there on the second floor when we were graduate students together.” Sounds innocuous, but after the 200th or so repetition it gets… Read more »

Juss Saeyn
Guest
Juss Saeyn

Hey Z Man, why don’t you throw a big party at your house and invite everyone over to continue the discussion? And I swear I’m not with the federal government’s new Task Force to Eliminate Non-Immigrant Love Inciting Hate Speech on the Internet.

Rabbi High Comma
Guest
Rabbi High Comma

I had a workout partner who concluded a rambling, five minute story with, “And so I had mayonnaise on my sandwich.”

Member

Z: “For some reason, they think they need to explain what everyone on earth has known since childhood.” Similar to this is when someone eagerly touts conventional wisdom, or a passe idea, as if it’s still fresh and impactful. See: younger Leftist women who never seem to get the memo from the edgier Leftists that the talking points have morphed. “You ever notice that old men are considered “DIGNIFIED”, while women are just OLD? No one ever talks about how George Clooney looks now.” –“Well, first of all hon, tough shit. Secondly, everyone, and especially women, talk about how old… Read more »

Really Boring
Guest
Really Boring

Have a bit of sympathy for those of us who are objectively boring and can’t seem to improve ourselves. What hope do we have?

Juss Saeyn
Guest
Juss Saeyn

Really Boring – just go deeper… you’ll get there

Member

Start hanging around dumber people than you so you’ll sound interesting. Or at least people on your level. Are you associating with really smart people or something? They’ve no use for average guys like me, or perhaps you. Picture meeting Zman or some of these top guys. Unless you’re on his level, what could you possibly say to him that he’d find interesting, or that he hasn’t thought about 50 times already.

Alzaebo
Guest
Alzaebo

Just when some of us were starting to feel safe

Amerikaner
Guest
Amerikaner

This perfectly describes my in laws. Both of them talk non-stop about mundane nonsense and will never listen to anything you say; they also regurgitate the same things over and over. They subconsciously know they are insufferable so they resort to bribery and guilt trips to get others to spend time with them. It is so bad that their own children have all moved far away from them and refuse to see them except once or twice a year on holidays, if then. I thought that blabbermouths like this must have a kind of known mental disorder but I cannot… Read more »

Ben
Guest
Ben

Great advice. A nice departure from your awesome political and social commentary musings. I enjoy all of it.

Da Lurker
Guest
Da Lurker

One of the worst things ever is recipes. Once worked in an office with a lot of women, who would recite recipes to each other. “Last night, I made the most fantastic meat loaf! I got the recipe from my neighbor, and you start out with just a little ground beef, oh maybe a pound, and then you add…”

Bizarre. Truly.