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Talking To The Most Boring Guy In The World

November 29, 2013

It’s easy to do this. Simply, get a chair, preferably a comfortable one, and a mirror and you are all set.

(Photo credit: Fem Central)

Rodney, that’s rude! I’m not the most boring guy in the world. . .In fact some of us aren’t even guys.

No. But, you could be. (The boring person. If you aren’t a guy, it’s hard to. . .never mind.) See, if you are in a room all by yourself, the conversation will be pretty predictable. You will do all the talking. You might ask questions, but, you’ll quickly answer them yourself. You might tell a joke and then laugh at it yourself. You will do a lot of talking and zero listening.

Now, put another person in your room and force THEM to listen to that? Chances are, they are going to think you are one of the most boring people in the world. Here’s one of those counterintuitive statements, that turn out to be true.

If you want people to think you are smart, ask them questions and then listen to the answers.

Do you have passions? Do you have a favorite movie? A favorite book? A memorable vacation? So do I. Which one do you think is most interesting? No, don’t try to imagine what exotic location I’ve been to and how your trip to the lake with your kids doesn’t compare. Your best vacation is much more interesting to you than hearing about my vacation would be. So, if you and I were to sit down and talk and I forced you to listen to me talk about how the heather in Scotland was glistening in the sunlight as somewhere down the glen someone was playing the bagpipes and I could smell the coming rain, you wouldn’t find it as interesting as your own vacation.

If we shared a train ride and it was clear that you were interested in talking, I might ask you about your vacation. You would relive the day in your mind. You would think of the little things that stuck with your years later. You would reminisce about family, gone now, and how much you enjoyed hearing the sound of their voices. At the end of our conversation, as we went our separate ways, someone might ask you, “How was your conversation with Rodney Bliss?” What will you remember about that conversation? You’ll remember the feelings and how much you enjoyed the vacation. And that enjoyment will be mixed up with your memory of our visit. You will think that I was one of the most intelligent people you’d ever met.

The key to being considered a good conversationalist is learning to listen. EVERYONE has a story. EVERYONE has hopes, dreams and passions. One day, we were taking a shuttle from Kennedy airport in New York City to our hotel. Our ten-year old daughter was with my lovely wife and me. We were returning from a trip to Haiti where we were completing paperwork to adopt four children. My daughter was very excited about the trip, and monopolized nearly the entire conversation between the airport and the hotel. An older couple mentioned the purpose of their trip and then was silent and patient as my daughter told them all about Haiti. She was not to be denied.

As we were arriving, I asked her

Do you know where these people are returning from?


They are returning from the Olympics where their daughter was the winning pitcher on the gold medal girls softball team.

My daughter was a HUGE baseball fan. She had a million questions to ask them, but she had told her own stories through the entire trip and the opportunity was lost.

Yesterday was Thanksgiving. We had a house full of people, about 20 relatives from Washington, California, Minnesota and Utah. It was fun to ask lots of questions and get people to talk about themselves. The next time you come away from a conversation thinking someone is boring, try to remember how many questions you asked them, and decide if you really listened to their answers. Do that one thing: listen, and you will be amazed how it influences people’s feelings about you.

Happy Thanksgiving and Happy Hanukkah.

Rodney M Bliss is an author, columnist and IT Consultant. He lives in Pleasant Grove, UT with his lovely wife and thirteen children.

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