How to Stop Feeling “Boring” In Conversations
Do you believe you’re a fundamentally boring person? If you have social anxiety it might seem logical to assume this. Everyone else seems to find talking easy, while you struggle to think of anything to say (let alone something interesting).
But where does this feeling of being really “boring” come from? And is it true?
This feeling is actually a more specific version of toxic shame
Or, in other words, equating failure with being a failure.
When a conversation goes badly, your mind doesn’t say “hmm that didn’t go well, I’ll do better next time.” No, instead it says “the conversation went wrong and it’s all my fault. I’m a fundamentally boring person – this will never change.”
It doesn’t make sense to think like this. But if you have social anxiety, knowing this doesn’t make it any easier. In fact, your anxiety is what’s making you feel boring in the first place:
- It prevents you saying anything that might risk embarrassment (which is almost everything).
- It stops you giving opinions, so you don’t offend anyone.
- It forces you to constantly look for “mini-rejections” – or people who don’t actually reject you, but look bored or just don’t seem to want to talk.
Of course, every time you find a “mini-rejection” – even if it’s not really there – your brain uses this to backup the idea that you’re boring. This happens even if the other person is just tired or quiet. It becomes a never-ending negative loop.
And it’s a cycle that needs to be broken
Because if you don’t find a way to break it, your conversation skills won’t improve – and it’ll ruin your chance of an enjoyable social life.
The idea that you’re “boring” makes it difficult to get over the “tipping” point between an acquaintance and a real friend. It can also cause awkward silences because you don’t have the belief that anyone is interested in your thoughts.
And in the end, people will start to only talk to you when they need something. They might even think you’re arrogant or aloof – because you never want to talk.
This only confirms to your brain that you are boring. That’s another negative feedback loop.
But your brain is wrong
OK, so right now there might be times when you’re boring to talk to. It’s important not to hide this, because it’s the first step to more interesting conversations.
But the key points are “right now” and “times.”
You are not boring. But your social anxiety is making you act in a way that can be boring – because it’s holding you back. Your anxiety doesn’t let you relax. It stops you giving opinions or elaborating.
But imagine a time when you did feel completely relaxed. I mean totally, 100% yourself – probably with a close friend or family member. Would you say you were boring then?
I’m guessing that if you’re truly honest with yourself, you weren’t boring then. Because you weren’t moderating yourself or trying hard to fit in. Your conscious mind stepped back and let your natural personality shine through.
I’m a believer that no-one is fundamentally boring
Everyone has interests. Everyone can show interest in another person. Everyone can hold flowing conversations.
Don’t believe me? Think about someone who you think is a great conversationalist. I’m talking about someone you know – someone who probably doesn’t lead an extravagant, action-packed life.
What does this person talk about? Most people talk about superficial things. TV shows, films, news, their work, relationships…maybe a hobby or two.
There’s nothing fascinating about these topics – you might even think they are “boring.”
The point is that conversation topics don’t have to be crazy or unique. In many cases, it’s not the topic that decides whether a conversation is interesting – it’s whether both parties are actively engaged.
This is great news, because it means that you can be more interesting too – even if your social anxiety holds you back. And it all starts with your mindset.
How to eliminate a “boring” mindset
In my Conversation Continuation Roadmap program, I spend an entire module talking about mindset. It’s extremely important.
So if you’re serious about improving your conversation skills I recommend checking out the program. But here are a few simple things you can do today:
- Take some of the burden of conversation off your shoulders. It takes two (or more) people to hold a conversation. Awkward silences are NOT always your fault and they don’t mean you’re boring. If the other person doesn’t seem to want to talk, that’s their problem.
- Giving your opinion is not a bad thing. If you have social anxiety, you probably cringe at saying anything that could change how people think of you. But giving your opinion doesn’t have to be disrespectful or unkind. And if someone disagrees with you, it’s not the end of the world.
- Watch the news, TV shows or films. I’m not suggesting you spend hours each day “researching” conversation topics. But keeping up-to-date with what’s going on in the world or watching a few popular shows can provide easy conversation topics.
- Be interested in the other person. I don’t believe “just listening” is enough to make friends. That’s why my conversation program focuses on contributing your own thoughts and comments. But actively listening to what the other person says – and asking the occasional follow-up question – makes them feel important and keeps the conversation flowing.
- Practice elaborating. Instead of one word answers, start with one sentence. The answer to “how was your weekend?” goes from “fine thanks” to “fine thanks, I spent most of it binge watching Netflix” (even this small amount of information makes the answer more interesting ).
These mindset shifts can make a big difference to how you view conversations. And as you start to have more interesting conversations, your brain will realise you are capable of either being fun OR boring – but you are not fundamentally one or the other.