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How to Avoid Being a Bore

if can add points be hard to tell
whether what we’re saying is really of
any interest to those we’re addressing
few people other than our partner in a
bad mood or our adolescent child will
ever directly cut us short and announce
that they find us dull it is as a result
all too easy to develop an impression of
our own compelling nature if we were to
ask our interlocutor am i boring you we
can be certain that the one answer we
will never receive is well since you
asked yes you are rather if we choose to
wait until people fall asleep while we
were counting an anecdote or check their
phone as we get to the punchline of our
joke it will be too late our reputation
as a windbag will long ago have been
sealed fortunately most of what people
need to tell us does not have to be
directly stated the evolution of a
civilization can be measured by the
scope of its dictionary of unsaid
signals the clue to another’s interest
lies not in their overt declarations but
in their degree of responsiveness to our
words we can gauge interest by studying
how closely and logically another’s
questions follow from our statements how
fast their replies come how invested
they seem in their emphases whether
their eyes meet ours when we stress a
point and the degree of elasticity and
benevolence in their smile to a trained
observer an urgent cry I need to go to
bed now can be communicated by nothing
more brutal or direct than a gaze at the
overhead smoke alarm that’s held a
fraction too long or a that’s wonderful
that lacks a minut but critical dose of
wonder it’s mostly easy enough to note
the cues when we ignore them it isn’t
that we aren’t receiving them but that
we are somehow opting not to register
them and we are not doing so for a
poignant reason because we cannot bear
to imagine that we might be boring
because the idea of not belonging
sufficiently deeply
in another person’s life is untenable
because we are unreconciled to the
fundamental loneliness of existence and
the tragic disjuncture between what we
want from other people and what they may
be prepared to provide we have grown
deaf from the rigidity of our need not
any failure of sensitivity somewhere the
idea of not pleasing someone
conversationally has turned from a risk
into a catastrophe that must be
manically warded off we become insistent
and willfully oblivious we give up
seeking to delight and settle instead on
a more modest hope of not being actively
thrown out the insult to our self-love
that we read into another’s board
reaction feels too great and our
resources to deal with it too slim for
us to take in the meaning of the long
pauses and wandering eyes we overlook
the cues because what they indicate to
our unconscious Minds isn’t the
relatively innocuous thought that the
other person wants to go to bed they
become embroiled in a deeper story about
our self-worth they become indicators
that we are fundamentally displeasing
that we deserve our isolation that we
are hateful wretches the best guarantee
of not boring others is there for the
development of an internal robustness
that can allow us to withstand the
thought that we do have tedious aspects
the interesting person can acknowledge
that losing someone’s attention is a
setback but not a sign of damnation to
develop a more benevolent picture of
what it means occasionally to bore it
can help to study the responses of
parents to their small children for
there are no better examples of the easy
coexistence of boredom with love to a
parent their 4 year old child will be at
once the most lovable creature they’ve
ever met and by a long way especially in
their conversation the most tedious even
outside of parenthood we are all endowed
with surprisingly rich capacities to
love someone and at the same time to
find them extremely where
it does not as the borma stakin Li ends
up thinking needs to be a choice between
love or boredom to skirt the danger of
growing into a full-blown boar we should
foster the inner courage to imagine that
we might sometimes without anything too
awful being meant by this be just such a
thing at the school of life we are
constantly developing new products to
help us develop emotional intelligence
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