There is an epidemic of boring in our society. And this plagues all of us.

Boring kills dates, networking events, sales and deals.

But, when we fight dullness we are more attractive, more memorable and more likable. That’s what I want to talk about today.

Here’s how to not be boring:

Engage the Brain:

Our brains are like really hungry toddlers–they are easily bored and demand to be fed with entertaining nuggets.

“New York Times” best-selling author and developmental molecular biologist John Medina discovered that the brain has a very short attention span. Our brains are attracted to intriguing, interesting, engaging people and things. Luckily, you are an intriguing, interesting, engaging person! Here’s how you can showcase it…

Turn People On:

Now get your mind out of the gutter! I’m talking about what turns on people emotionally. Most interactions look like a flat-line graph. You talk to people and it’s a dull conversation. “What do you do?” “What brings you here?” There is no emotional jump or brain jump. So, to stop being boring you have to cause more emotional excitement for the person. And by the way, this also is more emotionally exciting for you and will help keep you more engaged.

Here are some ideas for how to get that emotional excitement going…

Stop Using Social Scripts:

When you meet someone or are on a date you ask the same questions over and over and give the same answers. So, if you want to be engaging you have to get out of your comfort zone and start asking questions that matter. Here are three ideas for you:

  • What has been the best part of your week?
  • Besides work, what gets you up in the morning?
  • Working on any passion projects at the moment?

Be Interested to Be Interesting

The late American psychologist and educator John Dewey discovered one of the most fundamental aspects of people. He found there is one thing that every person on this Earth wants:

To feel important.

Once someone has the basics of food and shelter all they want is to feel cherished, valued and worthy. When we are interested, we are more interesting! Here’s the psychology behind it: If you can make someone feel important by valuing their opinions, time or feelings, then YOU will be attractive and interesting to them.

Here’s your challenge: Next time you are at an event or out with a friend, approach all conversations with one goal: Make whoever you are speaking with feel valued. Try this…

How to be Attractive Verbally:

  • Ask questions about what they find important.
  • Push their ideas a step further. Ask why and how more than what and when.
  • Commit to total engagement. I’m totally calling you out on your fake trip to the bathroom, pretending to check your very important email or looking over their head as you talk to them to see who might be more interesting. Stop it! I promise, engaging will make you both interested and interesting.

You also can be attractive nonverbally. You know how much we love our body language research. And studies show that the majority of our communication is actually nonverbal. 

How to Be Attractive Nonverbally:

  • Keep your toes pointed toward the person speaking. I know this seems silly, but our brains pick up on people’s foot direction and use it to gauge interest. As you are listening to someone, you can make them feel valued by keeping your toes and torso pointed at them as they speak. It’s kind of like nonverbally telling them, “I’m with you! I hear you! Keep going!” And that is the best compliment you can give someone.
  • Use a triple nod. Studies have shown (see our list of citations) that people will speak three to four times longer if you do three slow nods in a row when they have finished speaking. It’s like a nonverbal … So, when someone finishes their statement, look them in the eyes and nod three times, as if to say, “keep going.” They often will continue and you end up having a much deeper conversation. (And if they don’t, it’s no big deal. Just take a sip of your drink and ask your next question.)

If you try even one of these techniques, all with the goal of making others feel important and fighting boredom, you will be amazed at how much more interesting your conversations will be.

About Vanessa Van Edwards

Vanessa Van Edwards is a national best selling author & founder at Science of People. Her groundbreaking book, Captivate: The Science of Succeeding with People has been translated into more than 16 languages. As a recovering awkward person, Vanessa helps millions find their inner charisma. She regularly leads innovative corporate workshops and helps thousands of individual professionals in her online program People School. Vanessa works with entrepreneurs, growing businesses, and trillion dollar companies; and has been featured on CNN, BBC, CBS, Fast Company, Inc., Entrepreneur Magazine, USA Today, the Today Show and many more.

22 replies on “How Not To Be Boring Any Longer: 6 Principles You Can Use Today”

  1. Nique Jeffries

    I’m one that has a major weakness and communication is one of them. I try my hardest at it everyday and no matter how hard I try, it never works. Growing up, I was never taught how to effectively communicate and this could be a reason as to why any relationship that I have, always fails. It bothers me in a way and I hate that it does yet I am me and if people don’t like the way that I am, then so be it. Life itself teaches you alot of things and the number one thing that has failed me is communication. I put a lot of blame on my mom because she was the main person that raised me and my siblings. I’m in my mid thirties and it sucks ass to not be able to communicate in a more effective way. This is one reason why I will not get married. Everyone is always asking me, “Are you married yet” and I reply with a no and an explanation as to why. I know that a marriage to me would end up divorced because of my communication skills. Yes some will say , well how do you know that…. I just know and I’d hate for me and an S/O to spend a whole lot of money on a beautiful wedding and end up divorced a few years later. Im good on that and that is why I will never get married. I’m writing this because it is a way for me to vent as I have no one that I can confide in. So posting it in another realm is better because I wont get any hate or bashing for the way that I’m feeling and thinking.

    1. Zilmil Zilmil Launda

      For some reason, I can connect with you. It is difficult to live with people who have certain type of image of us. Of course, communication plays a part in any relationship but it is not everything. It is just a skill like playing a harmonica. We play with rules and can become better. And every new connection would be better than before. And when hearts communicates we don’t really have to worry about communication skills.

  2. Anon

    I have been trying several techniques to become more sociable and lively in conversations yet I rarely click with most people, especially the extrovert ones. This is despite me trying my best to contribute to conversations; I often have very little to say or nothing exciting to share. Also, if you put me in a room of people, you would expect not to remember me at the end of the meeting since I am often overlooked even if I had conversation with you. I have graduated from one of the leading institutions of the country and when people realize that, they are more like that I do not seem to be a graduate of the university as my conversational and social skills are pretty poor. Any guidance will be greatly appreciated!

  3. Tasmere

    I am trying to implement these tips and I am listening and allowing people to talk, being engaged, using follow up questions and all that good stuff. People have always felt very comfortable opening up to me my whole life. My issue is when will people care about what I have to say. I feel like im constantly getting cut off and at this point I just feel used as a venting outlet! What should I do?

    1. I’d say the point of being engaging and inviting with your body language is to control the flow of conversation, not to be submissive. Yes, people are usually their own favourite subject, but that includes you and you deserve to share what’s going on in your life and your points of view – even if your conversation partner isn’t as considerate in setting up the opportunities for you as you are for them!

      Often the best way to do this without seeming to monopolise the conversation is by connecting what you want to say, however loosely, to what they say. As long as it’s not boastful one-upping – taking the story they just shared and telling your own, more impressive story – people will usually listen and take more of an interest because it has seemingly come from something they brought up. “It’s funny you should say that, actually, because at the moment I…” can be a good intro to your own input.

      Another way is to outright state beforehand that what you are about to say will probably interest them. “You might be interested in the project I’m doing at the moment, actually…”. Whether the topic or anecdote you go on to share genuinely piques their interest or not (though ideally it will, if you’re being related), you have already got their attention and relayed to them that you have been listening intently to what they say and know them well enough to understand their interests. The one thing that everyone on the planet wants is to be really ‘seen’ and understood, so it’s a very validating way of swinging the conversation your way; stroking their ego and giving you the floor at the same time.

  4. Alan

    Beauty is in the eye of the beholder…

    Don’t get bored by anything, just laugh and be glad you are still breathing, be happy with the absurdity of repetition …or do something different if you are not.

    That’s why different questions work. But so does meditation, nothing really matters. Ultimately nothing is important. Wander aimlessly or have a target, it really doesn’t matter. Just smile and enjoy life for what it is.

    Mmmmm.

  5. Dan

    I used “Working on any passion projects at the moment?” at my last networking event and it was amazing to see people’s reactions, loved it!

  6. Zuri

    I am 13 years old and moved to a different state about 7 months ago . i still don’t really have any friends in my new school. i have two pple that i talk too, those two pple r like best friends . When ever we are all together i feel like the third wheel because they like make jokes and giggle but me on the other hand sit there and just stare and laugh awkwardly, while they like look at me like im slow or something. I am a very quiet person, IN PUBLIC, but at home u can compare me to an animal . I think i have a good personality like im very kind. When ever i say something that i think is funny they would look at each other then laugh. i feel like they laugh at me and not with me because when i am the only one laughing all u hear is crickets. Sometimes when i speak they dont seem to hear me not any of the other kids in my school hear me..i feel like they hear me but they just choose to ignore.

    1. Felize

      You’re not alone. It’s the same with me since I’m very shy and I wasn’t used to adapting at a different environment quickly. This was 4-5 years ago when I moved to a different country. I’m doing fine now though. Still introverted and I only have two close friends but the difference is that I’m happy. Just accept yourself for who you are, which would boost your confidence and comfort both in being alone and/or approaching strangers and speaking your mind without getting anxious or feeling terrible before and after the interaction.

  7. Lauren Freeman

    I think the fake trips to the bathroom are the go-to move for people my age to get out of a conversation, I see it happen (and, I admit, I do it too) ALL the time – always because we were “bored” of the conversation. If we get more engaged in the people around us, we’ll have better conversations and we’ll never be bored again. Everyone I know needs to read this article, it can really change our daily interactions for the better 🙂 One thing I have been trying lately is pointing my toes toward the person I’m talking to – I’ve noticed that both that and the triple head nod work! It’s so much fun to make a little body language game of everything I’ve been learning here and apply it to my interactions with people.

    1. Danielle McRae

      Yes! I like thinking about it as little games or ‘experiments’ too– makes it super fun to interact! I know for me since I’m more introverted, observing and practicing small body language cues has made me more excited to socialize!

      Danielle | Science of People

    2. i feel the same way too i feel like i can win anything like iam manipulating them its amusingly fun and sometime i try not to giggle.either way its also fun to see thier situtions and help them out but sometimes its really hard becuase i have to take my time and advise wisely.

  8. Liam Hayes

    How to not be boring is probably tied for first place along with influence as my favorite Science of People topic. Good stuff 🙂

  9. Bella Perennis

    I love this article. I agree, it’s so difficult to be interested in people when they stick to social scripts. It’s something incredibly common at student parties

  10. Bored of being bored

    I have always naturally used the techniques you describe on how to be attractive verbally and non verbally. Yes, they work wonders for the for the person being engaged. However, in nearly every circumstance, the person ends up being totally engaged in themselves and shows very little interest in me. They often tell me how much they have enjoyed my company without realising I was just a sounding board to them.
    If there’s one thing I’ve learnt, most people would drop everything to be heard and have their egos stroked.
    There’s got to be a balance with how much interest one should show. I would rather learn how to have a mutually satisfying two way conversation.

    1. Cusetown Pioneer

      In your case (since you have the listening thing mastered) maybe you could have more interesting conversations by asking questions with a more “selfish motive.” Ask questions to see if the person has qualities that you like, or that gives them an opportunity to display their sense of humor, empathy or compassion. If you feel comfortable with what you find, share a bit. Test them out by sharing a short experience from your day or something that happened that intrigues you. Some people are better at drawing you out when you give them a subject to ask about.

  11. raniya mansour

    hello Vanessa,
    I am fourteen years old and i changed school, i have met some new classmates. They are really very different from my old friends they communicate with each other so friendly because they are common things with each other also there are new students like me though but the new students the get with each other so fastly. I feel myself so different from them and the most problem is that i am introverted person and whenever i talk to them or try to talk with them from their expression i can see that they are bored though i try my best to bring up a lot of topics while they keep quite

    1. Danielle McRae

      Hi Raniya, thank you for sharing your story. As an introvert myself, I know it can be challenging to make new friends in a new environment. I recommend speaking one-on-one with someone (or a few people) to get to know them. This allows you to open up in a non-group setting. Hope this helps! -Danielle and the Science of People Team

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